The Case of Dangal Channel & the future of TV ads in HSM

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  • With top GEC FTA channels like Zee Anmol, Star Bharat, Star Utsav, Sony Pal, Rishtey moving to Non-FTA mode, viewership for the FTA channels, mostly driven by DD Freedish subscribers have been redistributed among remaining channels, resulting in Dangal channel becoming the most watched channel.
  • This brings a golden opportunity for TV advertisers who can go for less popular FTA channels to capture the target market in HSM at relatively lower costs.


Last week, a piece of interesting news made rounds in the media circle: Dangal channel tops the overall viewership race for week 13 and maintains the 2nd position in week 14. After unavailability of weekly BARC data to the public due to volatility in TV viewership following the implementation of new TRAI regulations, this was the first time BARC has shared the viewership data with the public and everyone is surprised. Is there a method to this madness? Let’s explore.

Before delving deeper into the case, let’s revisit our last article on the significance of FTA channels in Rural HSM:

DD Freedish: What changed after TRAI new regulations?

DD Freedish is a DTH service provided by Prasar Bharti which broadcasts the FTA channels and hence charges no monthly payments.

DD Freedish holds about 15% of the total TV HH with around 30 million subscriptions, which is estimated to grow to 40 million in 2020. This majorly covers the HSM areas of India, 34% in Rural HSM and 10% in Urban HSM.

Some of the popular TV channels under DD Freedish were Star Utsav, Star Bharat, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, Colors Rishtey. All these except Star Bharat were catch up TV channels offered by the big 4 GEC network. For years, these channels ruled over the rural HSM region.


With the new regulations under implementation, there is major turbulence in the TV viewership of the pay channels. Another big news is the withdrawal of the FTA channels by Star, Colors, Zee and Sony from the DD Freedish bouquet. This has resulted in the following:

  • While the pay-TV subscribers are still grappling with selecting their channel packages, it has adversely affected the overall TV viewership. The biggest losers so far have been the big 4 GECs due to loss of the DD Freedish viewership as well.
  • There has been no major change for DD Freedish subscribers except the loss of few channels. The GEC viewership which was earlier divided among Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, Star Utsav, Rishtey and Star Bharat is realigning to the available channels like Dangal, Big Magic, B4U, etc which resulted in Dangal attracting the maximum impressions.


Future of DD Freedish

It is important to know what is the main driving factor behind the popularity of DD Freedish.

  • Most of the subscribers come from Hindi Heartland i.e. UP and Bihar, where TV penetration has been the lowest for years.
  • These are also areas that are witnessing the fastest growth in TV penetration.
  • Not only is this audience price-sensitive but also at a nascent stage of TV viewership. They don’t mind watching old content if they don’t have to pay for it.
  • Also, with the new TRAI regulations, it has been reported that TV subscription fee has increased by as high as 70-80%. This would be again a major deterrent for this market and they would like to continue with their DD Freedish.
  • Prasar Bharti is going to introduce new channels to DD Freedish across genres and languages.

What it means for TV advertisers in HSM?

Last year, ad revenue for DD Freedish was around INR 20 million, hardly 7% of total ad revenue from TV advertising of INR 305 million. This can be attributed to low ad volume and low advertising rates for FTA channels. Now with the exit of big GEC channels and entry of new channels, the advertising rates for FTA channels would be much lower. This would benefit the advertisers as well as the remaining channels under DD Freedish.

Want to know more about advertising on FTA channels? Write to us at Help@TheMediaAnt.Com or visit www.TheMediaAnt.Com/Television.


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