Barely three weeks into the new pricing regime, TV18 has become the second group — after Star — to tweak its pricing and bouquet structure to make them more attractive to customers.
Most of the changes are on package structuring and composition, rather than on individual channel prices. Only two channels — Comedy Central and Colors Infinity — saw price changes, with both witnessing prices cuts of around 30%.
Channel packs, meanwhile, saw more widespread changes.
The broadcaster has decided to add 1-3 extra channels to almost all its existing packages across languages such as Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, North East, Marathi and Odia, without increasing the price.
In at least three markets, it has actually reduced the prices.
In the core Hindi market, it will offer Family Plus pack at the same price as the Family pack. Similarly, it will also offer a Hindi ‘Value Plus’ pack at the same price as the current Value pack and a Budget Plus pack for the same price as the Budget pack.
It should also be kept in mind that the new packs and prices will be applicable from the middle of next month only, when customers are due to renew their current packs.
Also to be noted is that the new package compositions are not radically different from the existing bouquets. In most cases, the company has added its two news channels — CNBC TV18 and CNN News18, to its existing packs to create the new ‘Plus’ version.
In some cases, the difference between the regular version and the Plus version is just one channel. There are, however, a couple of markets where it has added 2-3 extra channels to its existing packs, as can be seen from its listing of upcoming packs.
The Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka markets have also seen the company slash its pack prices.
For example, the price of the Karnataka Family Pack, which comes with 32 channels, has been cut to Rs 35 per month from Rs 45, while that of the Karnataka Value pack has been cut to Rs 30 from Rs 35 as part of the upgrade to a ‘Plus’ version.
Similarly, the price of the Gujarat Family pack has been cut to Rs 30 per month from Rs 35.
So too, the price of the Maharashtra Family bouquet will be brought down to Rs 30 from Rs 35 at present, while the value pack gets a Rs 3 discount, even as it has been upgraded to ‘Value Plus’ with the addition of two channels.
The price cuts, however, are largely confined to non-HD packs. HD packs get one or two extra channels.
For example, the Hindi Family HD pack will continue to be priced at Rs 50 per month, even as the company added children’s channel Nick to the bouquet.
The net impact of these price and composition changes is likely to be negligible.
Despite these changes, TV18 is likely to find it more difficult compared to peers like Star and Zee to persuade customers outside of its core Hindi market to subscribe to its packs.
This is because it is mostly a news and infotainment focused group rather than a group led by strong regional entertainment channels, like Sun, Star or Zee.
Instead of local channels, TV18’s core strength lies in pan-India genres like news, infotainment, comedy and children’s content.
The group distributes lifestyle, infotainment and news channels that have pan-India appeal, such as The History Channel, FYI TV18, CNBC TV18 and CNN News18. It also has a relatively strong line-up of children’s channels, including Nick, Nick HD+, Nick Jr and Sonic.
However, the company has surprisingly chosen to copy the packaging strategy of entertainment focused groups like Star and Zee. As such, its packages are all named after regions and languages, even though most of its channels are pan-Indian.
Surprisingly, it offers no custom packs for those who are interested in the group’s news, or infotainment or kids channels only. For example, it could offer a pan-India News and Infotainment package with its three English news channels and offerings like The History Channel and FYI TV18.
On a positive note, TV18 does offer one of the most affordable a-la carte price lists among all the big broadcasters, which should help it overcome its relatively weak footprint in regional entertainment markets.
Besides suffering from not having strong entertainment offering in many of the regional languages, it is also absent from the English movie channel and sports genres.
Meanwhile, Star India, the country’s largest broadcasting group, has also tweaked its packages to carve out two new channel bouquets dedicated to those interested primarily in its English language offerings and sports channels.