How Doordarshan Lost its Audience to Private channels? | Doordarshan Downfall Explained

How Doordarshan Lost its Audience to Private channels? | Doordarshan Downfall Explained

With the increase of technology and advancement in the broadcast industry, government funding channel such as  Doordarshan needs to be more outspoken. The Indian TV industry has grown massively, as of today, there are around 700 channels.

Like every other household has a television in their houses, the demands for more variety in channels increased which resulted in India being the third-largest market all across the world, right after China and US. However, Doordarshan did not incline with this race. The channel lost a large proportion of viewers, mainly because of satellite TV.      

There was a time when Doordarshan reached over 90 per cent of households in the country, but with such huge channels options, it is not preferred by most of the households.

The triggering fact is, this isn't limited to Doordarshan only, almost every government-based organisation such as BSNL and AIR, lost audiences and customers in a very large number.

As private organisations are facing extreme difficulty in surviving in the market, competition has risen massively. Because of this, government establish a committee under Sam Pitroda for improving the marketing strategies and revenue styles in Prasar Bharati, under which Doordarshan is controlled. However, there is still a long run for Doordarshan to boost up its revenue source and face the growing competition in the market.

Now, this brings us to the main content of this article, that is, how Doordarshan was the biggest marketing channel and what went wrong? So, let’s get started!

History of Doordarshan
What Led to the Downfall of Doordarshan

History of Doordarshan

Doordarshan started out as an experimental broadcaster in the year 1959, with a small transmitter along with a makeshift studio. It is the first-ever TV channel of India, also called the Free Dish as being a free entertainment platform.

Within a few years, Doordarshan became a huge success in the broadcast industry and reached over 25 million households. It covered all fields such as information & news, education, entertainment and others.

The reason why Doordarshan was praised so much by the Indian audience was that it carried the interests of all the geographical, linguistic and cultural groups. With time, Doordarshan grew into a large network of 36 satellite channels, which provided a free DTH service of 110 in its Bouquet.

What Led to the Downfall of Doordarshan

The massive decline in Doordarshan's ratings

With the growing demand for commercialisation, Doordarshan began auctioning slots to private broadcasters. This resulted in 80 channels, 24 DD and around 25 private with auctioning every month. However, this didn't turn out as expected as a large portion of the Doordarshan's audience base shifted massively towards the private broadcasters. This led to a massive decline in the ratings and revenue of DD.

Disastrous Advertising model

The advertising model of Doordarshan was a bit of a disaster for it as it stipulated that the private channels would not share their revenue with the DD platform. So, earlier, the private channels paid Rs. 8 crores per anum to DD Free Dish for transmission, annually which generated Rs. 2,500 crore in its total revenue, became zero after its new advertising model.

This resulted in the fall of Doordarshan's advertising revenue from Rs. 1,301 crore to Rs. 475.7 crore. And among this, around Rs. 318.06 crore entirely came from government ads so the final revenue that DD generated was Rs. 157.59 crores.

Absence of proper marketing division

Another biggest flaw in the marketing strategy of Doordarshan is the lack of a proper and independent marketing division. And because of this, when the private channel charged Rs. 90,000 to Rs. 1.2 lakh for a 10 seconds slot, Doordarshan charged merely Rs. 65,000 for the same slot.

They didn't have any team for strategic planning, research, advertising, internet handling, product management, branding or any other. This played a major role in the downfall of Doordarshan and gave major advantages to private channels.

How do TV channels make Money?
Have you ever wondered how do tv channels makes money and how TRP plays a big role in deciding the rate of advertisements. Lets understand.


In conclusion, we can say that there was a time when Doordarshan used to rule the broadcast industry in India. But in order to stand still in the market, one needs to adapt to the advancement in technology and marketing. And Doordarshan failed in both of these. Plus, as being funded by the Government it did not make enough profit and in fact, runs in a loss.

The former Prasar Bharti chief Jawhar Sircar blamed the incompetence, poorly backed policies and lack of ambition, for the failure of Doordarshan rather than the competition. The irony here is, most of the famous shows preset on Doordarshan were created by private producers.

When they found better opportunities, they grasped onto them. For now, the best strategic planning of Doordarshan is to take the BBC model to enhance its marketing planings and strategies. Stay tuned for more such content!


What caused the steep decline in Doordarshan viewership?

As the private channels entered the market Doordarshan experienced a steep decline.

How many viewers does Doordarshan have?

In 2021, TV viewership was more than 6 Billion and the channels reached more than 680 million viewers in 2021.

Is Doordarshan still active?

Yes, Doordarshan is still active and has a network operating 34 satellite channels.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky

Read more