Adgully, August 3, 2022
Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS International) and Broadband India Forum (BIF) commissioned a pan-India TV consumer survey in the months of April and May 2022, as a part of the initiative ‘TV Consumer Market Study’.
A total of 11,117 consumers were surveyed in-person. However, data has been analysed of 10,053 consumers, given that other consumers had incomplete responses. The survey was conducted across several states of the country.
The study reveals that TV offers value for money to consumers, but there is room to enhance consumer welfare. Consumers prefer TV across various relevant parameters, including content availability.
Close to three-fourth of the consumers pay around Rs 200-400 as average monthly subscription bill per TV. Most have subscribed to up to 200 channels, which is the same number as offered in the basic service package. Therefore, it is important to understand how and if consumers exercise effective choice and its concomitant impact on consumer welfare. For instance, 67 per cent consumers said that their average monthly bill for TV channels increased in the past 1-2 years, during which a new regulatory framework was put in place.
Around 40 per cent of the consumers said that they are satisfied with their subscriptions, and that leaves significant room for consumer satisfaction to grow, which validates the regulatory reform process currently underway at the TRAI. This is particularly since as per the TRAI’s Consultation Paper, on “discussions with stakeholders, it emerged that consumers’ benefits are of prime importance”. Moreover, consumer welfare is an important objective of TRAI’s overall regulatory remit.
The study reveals that consumers avail of TV channels primarily through bouquets, combined with individual channels. Moreover, consumers expect more from their subscriptions. Some of the key properties of consumers’ preferences include completeness, transitivity, more is better, continuity and strict convexity. Notably, the ‘more is better’ property stems from a basic assumption that more of a good or service is better than less of it. This also corresponds with the fact that consumers prefer bundles or bouquets. The study found that specifically, many consumers are subscribed to channels they do not watch, and simultaneously want to watch more channels that they think they may like.
As far as channel selection is concerned, a majority of consumers (60 per cent) rely on manual process of adding or removing channels and require direct intervention from DPOs in this regard. This is much more prevalent with cable TV consumers (80 per cent) than DTH consumers (39 per cent).
The study further found that many consumers (31 per cent) are unaware of the possibility of adding or removing TV channels altogether. Also, many consumers (51 per cent) are not inclined towards adding/ removing channels themselves.
TV offers value for money, but there is room to enhance consumer welfare:
- Most consumers see TV as a value for money proposition relative to other modes of video consumption such as Over The Top (OTT) services. Other prominent determinants include availability and quality of content as well as viewing experience and quality of service.
- Price is the most important factor for choosing TV package subscription for many consumers. Most consumers are subscribed to between 100 to 200 channels, and pay between Rs 200 and Rs 400 for their subscriptions, on a monthly basis.
- A round 40 per cent of consumers are satisfied with their subscriptions, and there seems to be a lot of room for consumer satisfaction to grow.
Consumers prefer bouquets, and expect a lot from them:
- Most consumers avail of TV channels through bouquet subscriptions. Many consumers select a combination of bouquet and individual channels. TV tends to be viewed by different members of households who would have heterogenous tastes. Combined with the value for money that TV offers consumers, there is an unsurprising and clear preference for bouquets in India.
- Many consumers are subscribed to channels they don’t watch, and similarly would like to watch more channels (which they are not subscribed to). It is therefore important to analyse why consumers prefer bundles/bouquets, even though they want more from their subscriptions.
Consumer welfare can be increased by empowering them:
- Many consumers require manual intervention of last-mile service providers that distribute content (distributors or DPOs)1 for adding and removing channels. This is a fact that is also acknowledged in the TRAI consultation paper on ‘Issues related to New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services’, issued in May 2022. The proportion of consumers who require such intervention is substantially higher in the case of cable TV consumers, when compared with DTH consumers.
- Some consumers are also influenced by last-mile service providers in choosing their subscription. As mentioned previously, consumers like bundles, and most opt for 200 channels, a number which is provided under the basic service package. Therefore, the design of basic service pack and subsequent channel or bouquet selection is an important determinant of consumer satisfaction.
- Some consumers are also unaware about the possibility of adding/ removing TV channels from their subscription altogether. And most are unaware of the Channel Selector Application, promoted by the TRAI to enhance consumer choice.
Consumers want better Quality of Service (QoS), including grievance redressal:
- During the last few years, some consumers saw a decline in levels of grievance redressal and assistance with customer premise equipment (set-top boxes), and three out of ten consumers do not even receive itemised billing. These are mandatory services under relevant QoS Regulations of the TRAI.
- In case of a hypothetical increase in subscription price by 10 percent, consumers do expect sharp improvements on parameters such as grievance redress, assistance with customer premises equipment/ set-top boxes and itemised billing, among other basic services.
These trends demonstrate the importance of continuous upgrades to and seamless provision of high standards of quality of service, in order to reconcile with consumer preferences.
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