Television Biz in India Booming with Over 68 million Cable TV Connections

India's television business is getting ready to boom, writes WSJ. Revenue from India's broadband and pay-TV industries could more than double over the next five years to $9.5 billion by the end of 2011 from an estimated $4.4 billion this year, according to Media Partners Asia.
The BIG three cable TV operators include the domestic Zee Telefilms and the two global content providers -- News Corp.'s Star TV unit and Sony Entertainment Television, a division of Japan's Sony -- in terms of ratings. The only other major domestic player is Sun TV with a geographically narrower market.

Spending on advertising in India was up 14% last year to almost $3 billion, according to TAM Media Research. About 40% of that total was spent on TV ads. By comparison, advertisers in China last year spent $30 billion, based on rate-card figures, to reach that country's 1.3 billion consumers. 

There were 347 million worldwide cable TV subscriber households in 2005 and China, India, and the United States, account for 60% of worldwide cable TV households, according to In-Stat. Cable modem services are becoming a “cash cow” for cable TV operators.  Worldwide revenues grew to $19 billion in revenues in 2004, and are projected to reach $22 billion this year.

The biggest challenge is Indian cable's so-called gray market. About 68 million of India's 112 million households with TV sets have cable, but broadcasters and cable companies don't get paid for all of those connections as the connections to homes ( "last mile" ) is left to thousands of cable operators. The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia estimates this system will cost its members $668 million this year because local operators don't report all the revenue they collect.

Zee expects its declared subscriber base to grow to 8.5 million in calendar year 2008 from 6.7 million currently. That figure includes the company's cable and direct-to-home satellite businesses. 

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