Charted: Newspapers and TV are holding up amidst India’s digital explosion

Tuned in.
Tuned in.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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In the Indian media market, there’s room for everyone to grow.

New-age digital platforms are witnessing rapid expansion, without cannibalising on the traditional television set or the newspaper. These findings are part of a report released on Dec. 06 by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), looking at India’s evolving media landscape.

The proliferation of smartphones—Indians are set to own 829 million of them by 2022—has pushed more Indians to start adopting online video content, like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, at a scorching pace. Cheap data rates, too, are helping them stay online longer.

Yet, Indians are also spending more hours huddled before the TV and on newspapers. Content consumption continues to grow in these segments, albeit in low single-digits. This is quite unlike the scenario in developed markets like the US or even China, where TV and print consumption are declining steadily.

“India is one of the few countries in the world where we are witnessing most mediums growing hand-in-hand and we see this continuing in the foreseeable future,” said Kanchan Samtani, partner and director of BCG India.

BCG sees this trend continuing for the next several years. “We expect India to remain a multi-modal market where all forms of media, including traditional media like TV and digital, co-exist,” the report said.

India’s overall media consumption, across platforms, has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% over the past six years, almost twice that of China’s and nine times that of US growth rates.

To be sure, this frantic pace is on account of the existing low base of per capita media consumption in India. In 2018, Indians consumed just 4.6 hours of media content a day, far lower than China’s 6.4 hours, and the US’s 11.8 hours.

That apart, certain other features of the Indian market have also helped.

Indian families (95% of them) have relied on a single television set as their primary mode of entertainment and media. That means TV viewing is a family occasion. “Literacy levels constrain print penetration and screen density is much lower than China and the US,” the report said.

But smartphones are set to change that with more internet companies pushing vernacular content to reach the masses here. Hence, going forward, digital is a clear winner.

Internet growth in India has been exploding. This has pushed the entry of large video-content companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even local platforms such as Hotstar and Voot. Indians are now spending an average of 190 minutes per day across various video platforms.