At the function to launch the distribution of free set-top boxes in Jammu and Kashmir last month, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that every household in India would soon have a television. “There are 25 crore households in India and 18 crore have a TV set. There are still seven crore households without a TV,” he said.
A look at India’s television story:
Tucked away at the bottom of the third page of The Indian Express on January 6, 1950, was a small news item from Madras. T N Seshadri, who worked as Physics and Soil Mechanics Officer with the Public Works Department, had written about a cathode-ray television set on display at the polytechnic wing of the Industries Department in Teynampet. The TV set only displayed an image of a scanned letter, and Seshadri wrote that to his knowledge “this is the very first time that such a demonstration is shown in Madras, if not in India”.
To now: India is one of the world’s largest TV markets. According to data collected by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) of India in 2018, of 298 million households in the country, 197 million households — or 66 per cent of the households — own a TV set.
Census 2001: 32% households had TV
(60.6 million of 191.9 million households)
Census 2011: 47%
BARC 2018: 66%
Between 2016 and 2018, as per BARC data, 14 million households got a TV set. Even at that rate, it can take nearly 15 years for television to penetrate100 million households that don’t have a TV at present.
Industry insiders say TV is one of the first things a household buys, after a fan, once the home is electrified. So while the country is approaching nearly 100% electrification, a third of the country doesn’t own a TV.
What lies ahead
Industry sources say the definition of what is considered television is rapidly changing. Unlike earlier, when a cathode-ray tube screen, flat-screen LED or plasma screen was considered a television, now any screen has the potential to function as one. With mobile phones growing at a much faster rate than the number of traditional TV screens, there is a possibility that TV penetration in the country in future could outstrip the actual number of TV sets that households own.