TRAI’s Cable Tariff Hike Pushes Indians Towards Hotstar & Netflix

The report highlights the impact of increased TV channel prices on viewers after TRAI changed the tariff structure.

Tech News
3 min read
More Indians preferring OTT apps to stream content over the internet.

Last year’s changes in cable TV tariff for channels by the Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) pushed many TV viewers to ditch their cable networks and rely on digital platforms for consuming content.

This has been mentioned in a survey by YouGov where over 1,000 people participated and the data was collected online. The survey says the data represents the adult population in the country.

From the results that are available publicly, it is evident that hiking TV channel prices, confusing the consumer by offering channels in packs or asking them to select individually hasn’t got the desired response from the people.

These points have been repeatedly pointed out by Direct to home (DTH) users across the internet since February last year, but TRAI felt the changes have helped users reduce their monthly TV bills. However, in reality, the process has worked the other way around.

It is clear through this survey that TV viewers in the country have been forced to look for alternatives, especially when they were paying more for watching the same or lesser number of TV channels.

Online Content Over TV DTH Channels

TRAI’s Cable Tariff Hike Pushes Indians Towards Hotstar & Netflix
(Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)

This trend has meant that out of the 1,000 people who were a part of the survey, 48 percent of DTH subscribers now prefer watching content available through online streaming platforms like Hotstar, Netflix and others.

The increase in time spent on watching OTT content has significantly reduced the time spent on watching TV and 43 percent of the respondents agreed to the changing pattern.

From all the respondents who participated in the survey, one-in-six claimed they have disconnected their DTH connection and one in five now solely relies on online streaming platforms to watch content.

Buying TV Channel Packs Isn’t Easy

One of the biggest gripes that consumers had was the complex pricing structure of the TV channel packs. You could either get them individually (which was tedious and cumbersome), get bundled TV packs (from Star, Zee or Sony) or stick with channels that are available free-to-air and won’t cost you a penny.

Interestingly, the survey says a majority of the respondents preferred the first option, with 40 percent of them selecting channels for which they wanted to pay.

TRAI’s Cable Tariff Hike Pushes Indians Towards Hotstar & Netflix
(Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)

The next set of people (37 percent of those) were comfortable choosing packs for different channels. And finally the remaining 23 percent would mostly rely on free channels and add a few paid ones, keeping their monthly bills to a minimum.

Changes Were Inevitable

TRAI from the outset had good intentions while revising the tariffs, wanting people to pay less for viewing channels on TV. But clearly, their structure has been tweaked by the service providers, which has lead to an increase of over Rs 100 on the current TV subscription costs for the consumer.

No wonder TRAI made revisions to its existing tariff slab earlier this year, reducing costs of bundled channel packs, as well as the amount to be paid for all free-to-air channels. After examining various provisions, TRAI reduced the maximum NCF charge to Rs 130 (excluding taxes) for 200 channels.

TRAI also decided that only those channels costing Rs 12 or less will be permitted to be part of the bouquet offered by broadcasters. The new rules are part of the changes the regulator has made to its 2017 tariff order for broadcasting and cable TV services which came into effect from 1 March.

Hopefully these changes will ensure the attrition rates from cable TV to OTT platforms in the country slows down.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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