It has been a year since TRAI rolled out its revised plan for DTH and cable TV users. While TRAI's well-meaning plan intended to provide more power to customers, one in every two TV watchers has since moved online to content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, among others. "Not only have people increased their digital content viewing time in the past year, but some have also unsubscribed their DTH connections and moved completely online for content," UK-based market research company YouGov said this week. Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed service providers to allow users to choose channels they liked and pay standardised rates for only those.
But, is TRAI squarely to be blamed?
The migration to online had kick-started even before TRAI rulings, thanks to easier availability of smartphones and reduced data costs. Further, the emergence of quality content on video streaming platforms has also levered consumption. According to an EY-FICCI report released in March 2019, "In 2018, over 2.3 billion people watched streaming or downloaded digital video content via any device at least once per month." Also, OTT platforms spent a huge amount of money to create original content to lure users away, the report on India's Media and Entertainment industry added.
While TRAI had expected to enhance the TV viewing experience of the people and reduce costs for users, one in every two DTH, cable TV users said that they would like to increase their online consumption because of TRAI's ruling. "When the order was first passed, half of the 1020 surveyed respondents (49%) indicated their likeliness to spend more time online watching original content as a result of this amendment," Yougov said. The same materialised by 2020 and people have migrated online for content. In fact, there is a considerable large number of people who watch TV channels via online platforms.
TRAI's ruling had an adverse impact on the business of television and over 40% of those surveyed said their TV-viewing time has decreased in the last year. Over 20% of people have discontinued their DTH services and have moved entirely online for content.