Indian Pay TV Services Market Surges with Expanding Rural Base

Star India’s record bid—nearly US $2.6 billion—to secure global television rights of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament for coming five years is one of the instances portraying the ballooning market of Pay TV Services in India. As usual, it will start disseminating the tournament from the first week of April this year.

With over 170 million Pay TV households at present, India is second largest Pay TV market in the world.

It is expected to exceed 200 million by the end of 2020 which is predicted to be almost five-fold more than country’s Free TV market by then.

Besides ad revenue, the rising rate of Pay TV penetration and global based IPL viewers of over a billion are probably major factors to inspire Rupert Murdoch’s Star India to bag the bid at exorbitant price. The pay TV penetration rate stands at around 70% at present in the country and IPL itself is one of the key contributors to drive the penetration rate particularly in rural areas.

With a total of 59 matches, this two months event—IPL—recorded 1.25 billion impressions globally in 2017, up at around 25% in comparison to previous year. Of a total viewership, rural areas accounted for over 570 million viewers whereas urban areas witnessed over 600 million, according to television viewership monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India.

Moreover, government of India’s rural focused budget of 2018 is also expected to convert freedish homes to Pay TV homes. It is because the budget has different programs to enhance the income and living standard of rural people. This ultimately aims to leverage the Pay TV market resulting benefit to broadcasters with subscription revenues.

On the other hand, the digitization mandate of broadcasting sector has also protected the interests of industry, Pay TV service providers. The mandate has streamlined, regulated and optimized the industry by offering high quality services to customers in exchange of regulated tariff orders. Furthermore, the Analog Switch Over (ASO) mandate has pushed consumers to opt for a digital paid service as a result the number of Pay TV subscribers are on rise.

The accomplishment of final phase—phase IV—of ASO coupled with emerging trend of HD viewing will further drive Pay TV Service market. The move is predicted to improve Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). It is estimated to grow at around 8% for next four years.

Despite all this, the emergence of Over-The-Top (OTT) content platform, connected TV, DVR, etc. are identified as strong challenge to Pay TV.

OTT is predicted to disrupt the market of Pay TV Services.

However, this is likely to happen in long-term but not till mid-term. It is because the market of Pay TV services has strong hold in the families of urban population and is creating robust base in rural areas where its penetration rate is significant. Although OTT witnessed exponential surge in past three years especially during IPL, but it could not restrain the remarkable growth of TV viewership. During last year’s IPL, it (TV viewership) grew at around 25% in 2017 reaching 1.25 billion mark from slightly over 1 billion in 2016.

In addition, the digitization mandate has consolidated the landscape of MSOs’ to less than 1385 from 6000. They (MSOs’) either exited the market or are bought by large players due to which the Pay TV Services market is being more streamlined. As a result, new growth avenue is opened up for large players to retain the market share by penetrating newer markets of Pay TV Services.

For more information on “Pay TV Services in India, 2017” please visit

Subarna Poudel is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at

Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at | +603 6204 5830

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