64% of the entire TV owning population still uses cable: Sharad Alwe

Authored by Sharad Alwe, Co-Founder & MD, Update Geotarget.

Regional Cable – the platform that introduced “entertainment” quotient into people’s lives back in the 1990s is now three decades younger and still going stronger, all thanks to ‘content’, the heart of any entertainment.

As we enter a new decade, the importance of “Content”, engaging and relatable content has grown, owing to the dreaded word “pandemic”.

From bonding families over 9pm prime time movies in early 1990s, to full-fledged network with Movies, News, Music, Devotional channel offerings in 2020s, Cable platform has grown in leaps and bounds. It has decided to compete with its big brothers banking on its USP ‘the Content’.

From inception, where it was restricted to movie channels, tapping the preferences of the population which varies every five kms, this narrowcast platform has expanded to other genres understanding the need of the consumers.

Now it has over 1000 MSOs and more than 50,000 Local Cable Operators, supporting over 750+ satellite channels, and over 5000 hyper locally curated cable TV channels, reaching 120 million households covering the length, breadth and depth of India. 

It is also a fact that while metros have alternatives in terms of OTT, it is only Cable TV that has more than 60% penetration beyond metros. Customised, personalised content served in regional language and dialect makes it an appealing proposition.

In a country where more than 90% population lives beyond metros and where digital is primarily restricted to metros; Cable platform along with its fresh, regional and relevant content offerings still is marketeer’s choice.

We are at the end of 2020, still 64% of the entire TV owing population gets the access to sat channels via Cable.

Now coming to the business aspect of things, industry first timers like FMCG giants in India benefitted in early 1990s with their first mover advantage by reaching the last mile audience through Cables platform. Slowly and gradually others followed.

So, from being only used by select FMCG players and political advertising in early 1990-2000; now we see all the new age advertisers from E-commerce, Edu-tech etc. all jumping on this bandwagon.

The reason being, Cable having a DNA of digital platform – Geo Targeted marketing, Customised, Personalised, Better ROI & less Spillage.

In current times a lot of new advertisers have realised the potential of the platform and are approaching markets where the business is actually drawn from the beyond metros. Here the consumers have the pent-up need and funds to buy the products. Cable has been an inseparable part of media plans when it comes to reaching these markets.

Digital trend of geotargeting is adapted on Cable as well, now slicing and dicing of the markets is possible. Advertisers can now pick and choose the P1 markets and advertise exclusive in the regional language dialect. Like most of the major FMCG brands have cable as an inevitable part of their plan to reach out audiences in NESA in languages like Kukaborook, Manipuri, Mizo, etc. where the satellite only provides channels in Assamese language. For other markets as well like UP, Maharashtra, where the dialect changes every 10 kms, cable provides channels and content.

NTO in 2019 further boosted the platform, as 25 cable channels were mandatory in the base pack of 100 channels. Making cable highly visible as every 5th channel while surfing was cable.

And the platform led solutions are not only restricted to Cable channels but they have set top box software-based properties. These are unskippable, channel agnostic solutions delivering the advertisers message to 60 mn HHs, and have been in demand during the big-ticket launches, events like IPL and festive season.

So here we see how cable has in time moulded and brought to the table solutions which deliver as per the requirement. Terms like ROI, minimum spillage and geotargeting play a significant role.

Lockdown had frozen the markets leading to a sluggish trend. 

IPL triggered the positivity in the market, unlocking the pent-up demand. We got clients on STB solutions targeting the IPL Launch weekend whereas other big sponsors on IPL supplemented their presence on our platform with high frequency FCT & NFCT solutions. In September, we saw addition of over 10 new advertisers to our clientele list which primarily comprises Edu tech, online retail, FMCG and retail clients.

Cable business the surge began from mid-August 2020, where the focus was on reaching to specific markets and reaching out to the local consumers or last mile consumers by many advertisers through our medium. The surge started in August 2020 but reached a peak in September 2020, where it surpassed the total business earned in April-August by 15%.

IPL positivity was duly supplemented or backed by KBC, Big Boss and some interesting OTT originals which diverted the whole attention back to normalcy. 

And we hope the positivity in advertising continues post the festive season as well, as marketers get into the 2021 planning stage. 




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