India has come a long way since 1959 when we first witnessed Doordarshan. Moreover, television viewing in traditional days gave us limited options. Then with time came the next wave of television viewing with cable TV which gave the choice of 24 hour broadcast to the viewers. As Direct to Home (DTH) service made its way into Indian homes in 2006, the viewers made it clear that they do not mind paying for good content of their choice. However, cable TV and DTH only allowed them to manage their experience to the extent of flipping channels. With the advent of smartphones and internet in the country, and the recent India launch of popular internet streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hooq, Spuul, Voot, and Hotstar etc., smart TV apps are all set to redefine the television viewing experience in the country once again.
Apart from offering the traditional television features, a smart television set can also be connected to the internet or other digital devices for video streaming. Therefore, it is called a Connected or Hybrid TV. Therefore, the user can play videos from his phone, listen to music stored on his flash drive, live stream a cricket match over internet, conduct a video call, or subscribe to various internet-based services such as on-demand videos etc. Therefore, users are no more dependent on the content offered to them by television broadcasters but may choose themselves from a vast array of content available on internet. If the recent trend of launching popular entertainment series exclusively over internet further picks up, there are chances that the viewers may completely do away with their traditional set-top boxes and switch to smart televisions.
As of now, the smart TV market in India is just beginning to grow. Tier 1 and 2 cities are leading the pack in this direction. According to 6Wresearch, a global market research and consulting firm, smart TV unit shipments in India will touch 9.86 million units in 2017. This is a 109.93% CAGR growth over the number of units shipped in 2011. In terms of value, the firm projects smart TV market in India to touch Rs 540 billion by the end of 2017.
The numbers suggest that smart TV adoption in the country is slow but surely rising. With the rise of Smart TVs, comes the rise of SMART product development that helps brands to connect with millions of viewers and offer them a vivid 10-foot experience.
Industries such as e-commerce, M&E, e-learning, and OTT platforms are investing a lot of effort in developing applications for Smart TV to enter into the TV space with live Streaming, e-commerce and VOD applications.
Despite all these rich prospects of smart TV, people in the tier 2 and 3 town lack awareness about the enhanced viewing experience that it can offer. Therefore, the manufacturers and streaming service providers need to take up the task of educating this segment. For a country with 130 Crore population and over 650 million television sets, the opportunity is humongous.
Just like telecom revolution, India has the opportunity to leapfrog in smart TV adoption and in many aspects, set precedent even for the West. All of this is just a matter of time. Let’s wait and WATCH.