A Study on the Television Industry in India


Lenin Karthikeyan
Assistant Professor - Senior scale
School of Business
Manipal University - Dubai campus


Television (TV) industry has an inspiring past and was considered as the greatest and most significant inventions of the 20th century.  It began with humble beginnings and was met with skepticism and awe. The most striking thing was this Television has become the integral part of our existence and it has already modified our social behavior. It was popularized in a completely enhanced form shortly after World War II and during the 1950s, it became the primary medium for molding our public opinion. Over the last few decades it has become incredibly persuasive, powerful, and demanded media of marketing and serving as a hottest platform to sell the products globally as well as locally.

It also plays an imperative
role in disseminating cultures, information's and values due to its easily accessibility and availability and brought the world closer together. Television has experienced innovation in technology, consumption, regulatory frameworks and industry structure, both historically and globally. As an industry it has experienced convergence with other media platforms as a media product, television programs have developed from passive viewing to a more interactive experience. From its inception Television has been used as a powerful medium for varied purposes including but not limited to broadcasting information and entertainment, imparting knowledge, educating, shaping public relations. It also played a part for larger efforts (advocating social issues) to promote actions having social cause. Television always has a mass appeal to audiences since—it reaches people regardless of age, sex, income, or educational level. In addition, television offers sight and sound, and it makes dramatic and lifelike representations of people and products and currently the news coverage's apply visual framing to contribute to our understanding of the world we see in the news. TV has been called the king of advertising media. According to Kelley, Jugenheimer, and Sheehan (2011), TV is the largest medium in terms of dollar expenditure. Though the advertising share of TV has declined since the entry of new media, it remains the number one medium in advertising sales (p. 127).

The significance of the study is to understand the television industry in India, and every factor that involves in, the making and breaking of the modern industry, and how technology and so many other factors have played a major role in siding away televisions to a great extent.

History of Television

* The word television comes from ancient Greek; Tel meaning "far" and Latin; Visio meaning "sight".
* In the 1800's Paul Nipkow developed the first mechanical module of a television.
* In 1927 Philo Farnsworth invented the first working electronic television.
* The first electronic color television was created in 1953.
* The first broadcast of television pictures began in Germany in 1935.
* The longest running television show was "Gunsmoke" which aired from1955 to 1975.
* John Logie Baird also created the first working television set in the year   1925.

The major objective of television industry are as follows

* Profit making
* Customer satisfaction
* Innovation
* Maximum sales and
* Corporate Image

In India today's television world has been divided into three domains:

1. Television Broadcasting
2. Cable Services
3. Satellite Services


* 1980's was the decade dedicated to Doordarshan when serials like Buniyaad, mythological drams like Ramayana and Mahabharata, Kramchand, Chitrahaar glued millions to their TV sets.

In 1987-1988 Doordarshan's revenue shot up to Rs. 136.3 million and further rose to a whopping Rs. 490 crores. At the close of the 1990's there were 58 million television sets in the country, with around 15 million connected to neighborhood cable networks.

* Television was separated from Radio in 1976 and Doordarshan came into existence, National programme was introduced in 1982 and from then onwards, there has been steady progress in Doordarshan.

* The Asian Games which were held on New Delhi in 1982 proved to give further impacts to the rapid expansion of the national television network.

* 1948-1958 was a time of unusually good dramatic programming.

* Quality dramas were needed to attract wealthy, educated viewers who could afford television sets.

* Most television dramas were performed live because videotape recording had not been invented yet, and filming was too expensive.

* Television continued the social trends that radio had started bringing the family indoors to experience programming together, but actually interacting less in the time they spent together.

* The experimental Telecast started in Delhi in September 1959 with small transmitter and a makeshift s studio and the regular daily transmission started in 1965.

* The TV service was extended to a second city – Bombay only in 1972 till 1975, only seven cities were covered by Television.

Fig. 1 Role of Television industry in India compared to other media

Television Industry in India

The Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report for 2014, jointly published by the federation of Indian chambers of commerce and industry (FICCI) and KPMG, indicates the estimated Indian television industry, worth 370 billion rupee (Dh21.79bn) in 2013 year, is expected to grow at 18 per cent over the five years through 2017, to reach 848 billion rupees.

India has the third largest TV households globally, second to only China and the US. However, the digital TV penetration in India is very low at 36% as compared to more than 90% in countries such as Finland, Spain, UK, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia.

Regional GECs (General Entertainment Channels) have emerged as key focus areas for most of the players due to its connect with Non-Hindi Speaking Market audiences. The number of operational regional GECs is four times of national GECs. Regional channels are attractive for advertisers due to lower cost of connect with the right audience.

Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi are the key languages in the regional GEC space. Sun TV Networks has been a leading TV broadcaster in the South Indian television market. Infotainment channels like National Geographic and discovery launched Telugu and Tamil feeds National broadcasters are increasing their presence in the regional market while the regional players are increasing their penetration through niche channels.

Major Challenges

The appetite of the viewers is increasing and nowadays people are not satisfied with the conventional broadcasting only. Broadcasters need to provide their content on all possible carriage ways. New media including IPTV, mobile TV, YouTube, and the like, would complement traditional broadcasting.

The foremost challenges on the technology front are digitization of infrastructure and migration to HDTV. Broadcasters need to define how they traverse on the digitization path and put in serious efforts to decide what services they have to deliver to viewers. Systematic phasing out of analog system in broadcasting is a prominent task to meet the analog switch-off deadlines. Digital TV is not restricted to traditional home devices alone but is also available on personal devices.

Plans for Industry Growth

* Need to be more quality conscious.
* Need to improve after sales service.
* Need to build economies of scale.
* Explore exports as a viable option.
* More emphasis to develop rural market

Fig 2 Evolution of TV Channels in India

SWOT ANALYSIS for the TV Industry in India


* Media and Entertainment is one of the most booming sectors in India due to its vast viewership reach.

* The industry like television has a large customer base.

* Change in the lifestyle and spending patterns of the Indian masses on entertainment.

* Technological innovations like online distribution channels, web-stores, and multi and mega plexes are complementing the ongoing revolution and the growth of the sector.

* The low cost of production and high revenues ensure a good return on investment for Indian Television Industry.

* The growing middle class with higher disposable income has become the strength of the Media and Entertainment Industry.


* Among the weakness in the industry, a current weakness maybe the inability to adhere to ethical standards in the industry which has lead to the lawsuits filed against some media industries.

* The industry also has been slow in its growth only picking up in the recent past, thus its innovation and marketing strategies maybe not competitive on the global arena.

* The lack of efforts for media penetration in lower socio-economic classes where the media penetration is low.

* Highly fragmented.

* Lack of cohesive production and distribution infrastructure.


* The industry still has room to expand within India as the market is wide and can increase its market share.

* The high technological innovation which is happening everyday also presents a good opportunity for the television industry to utilize the latest technology in expanding its production mix or improving the existing ones hence increasing the market.

* The increasing interest of the global investors in the sector.

* Rapid de-regulation in the industry.

* Rise in the viewership and the advertising expenditure.

* Creating new distribution channels.


* Though India can be said to be stable politically, the country is known for frequent changes in government administration and instability in some regions or states, this issue negatively affects the television industry and the threat to media.

* Piracy, violation of intellectual property rights poses a major threat to the media and the television industry or any other media industries for that matter.

* Lack of quality content has emerged as a major concern because of the 'quick-buck' route being followed in the industry.

* With technological innovations taking place so rapidly, the television industry is facing considerably uncertainty about success in the market place.


Television industry in India is on a transformation path. Multiple channels in each genre competing with each other for TRP, increasing pay TV penetration, expanding yet fragmented local as well as overseas viewership of Indian channels, demand for more specific content – clearly set the stage for the next level of growth and transition for players across the television value chain. Content creators and broadcasters need to be cognizant of the ever increasing demand for differentiated content. While on one hand, new digital content distribution platforms are emerging; on the other hand, new formats of entertainment - computers, mobiles and other handheld devices are gaining importance. Monetization of content through these new opportunities in existing platforms and new media platforms are going to be key focus areas for the content owners.

Some key trends and challenges that lie ahead are:

* Digitalization of the TV distribution: DTH is leading the race for digitalization of the distribution system. Digitalization is not only expected to help the players in the value chain to realize the true potential of their content, but also to cater to the unique and diverse needs of the viewer when it comes to entertainment.

* HD and 3D TV: LED and LCD Televisions are outselling the conventional televisions.

* Technology led new opportunities: New platforms for reaching consumers and new technologies in content management are providing unique opportunities to increase the shelf life of the content

* Consolidation in TV distribution

* Need for improved measurement tools: An effective measurement system is the backbone of advertising dependent industry

* Evolving viewer interests: The viewer today is not only looking for new-fangled content but is also very quality conscious. From new movie broadcasts to reality shows with more and more celebrity appearances, from IPL to EPL – the need for differentiated and fresh content is on an all time high.


Sen Khushi (2015) , Television Industry in India, http://www.KhushiSen/television-industry-in-india, retrieved on 23rd December, 2014.

Kelley, L., Jugenheimer, D., & Sheehan, K. (2011). Advertising Media Planning: A Brand Management Approach (3rd ed.). Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe and A. Kolhi, Eds. (2007, July 17). State, Business, and Economic Growth in India. Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID)

Koshy, Shalu (2015), Study of the Television Industry Report, MA Media and Economics, Manipal University, Dubai.

No author (2011), Media and Entertainment in India, Digital Road Ahead, http://www.deloitte.com/assets/dcom-india/local%20assets/documents/me%20-%20whitepaper%20for%2 0assocham.pdf, retrieved on 8th November, 2014.

Bhatnagar A.K (no date),
Opportunities and Challenges in Indian Broadcasting Industry, http://www.broadcastandcablesat.co.in/opportunities-and-challenges-in-indian-broadcasting-industry.html , retrieved on 15th November, 2014

Lenin Karthikeyan
Assistant Professor - Senior scale
School of Business
Manipal University - Dubai campus

Source: E-mail January 29, 2015


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