Viacom18 is buoyed by the response from advertisers to Bigg Boss in multiple languages. Head of Network Sales Mahesh Shetty says there are multiple macro factors driving advertiser spends this year and is bullish on the prospects for the festive season, with high participation from auto, consumer durables and e-commerce segments, among others. Excerpts from an e-mailed interaction:
How have revenues been in 2023 to date, compared to 2022?
In 2022, especially in the second half, we had seen traditional advertisers tighten their ad budgets due to increase in input costs. In addition, the startup ecosystem witnessed a funding winter with cost management and profitability becoming centrestage which led to the big squeeze on ad budgets amongst the startup brands both large and small.
In 2023, with input costs coming down coupled with the market showing a healthy recovery, most brands are back to investing in advertising to drive growth. Last year, the auto category was struggling with semiconductor chips’ availability. This year that is relatively under control and most auto majors are launching newer brands and variants and investing heavily on advertising.
Growth is also being driven by big ticket properties like Bigg Boss and other major entertainment and sporting properties. We expect double-digit growth in advertising spending compared to the previous year.
What is the vibe you are getting for the current festive season (Oct-Dec?) from advertisers?
This year’s outlook is notably more optimistic in contrast to the previous years when advertising revenues had remained impacted. The continued trend toward digitisation, coupled with decreasing inflation rates and positive consumer sentiment, is anticipated to be the driving force behind growth during the upcoming festive season. Across various sectors, both local and national brands are gearing up to unveil new products and boost their advertising budgets, setting the stage for a promising festive season. We are witnessing increased spending from the FMCG sector buoyed by encouraging monsoon recovery in September and green shoots in rural demand, along with the high participation from auto, consumer durables and e-commerce.
In anticipation of this upswing, broadcasters are introducing new shows and bracing themselves for a substantial increase in advertising volume. As demand surges along with the rising advertising volume, it becomes imperative for advertising rates to experience an upward adjustment. Our flagship properties like Bigg Boss are getting strong traction from sponsors across categories. The prospects for the festive season are indeed promising, with the potential to increase our pricing over what we had achieved last year, and an optimistic outlook for further upward momentum during this festive season.
What are your projections for the 2023 festive season compared to 2022?
This year’s festive season is expected to witness an advertising splurge, and we are expecting strong double digit growth over last year. Unlike last year when the consumers and the brands were re-adjusting their spends basis inflationary pressures, this year we are seeing a much more buoyant outlook, both from consumption and advertising spends point of view. The advertisers are also seeing consumer spends returning to its usual level in the short term and hence they are also aggressively spending to garner high share of voice in the advertising mediums. We are already seeing healthy growth in consumer spends in premium FMCG categories. Rural demand is picking up, auto sales are at an all time high, e-commerce players are going aggressive to capture the consumer share of wallet… All in all, this festive season is looking much more positive than last year and hence our projections of strong double digit growth over last year.
Which are the television genres that usually do well during the Indian festive season? What is the expectation for 2023?
During the Indian festive season, several television genres tend to perform exceptionally well due to increased viewership and advertisers’ interest in reaching a larger audience. Some of the television genres that traditionally do well during this period include family dramas and soaps, big ticket reality shows, films aligned with the festivities, culinary shows and sporting events.
For 2023, the expectations for television genres during the Indian festive season are generally optimistic. The presence of big-ticket entertainment tentpoles like popular reality shows and sports events is likely to fuel viewer engagement and advertising interest. Additionally, as consumer sentiment is expected to be positive, advertisers may invest more in these genres to reach a festive and enthusiastic audience, further boosting the performance of these television genres. However, the exact performance will depend on various factors, including the competitive landscape and the quality of content offered by broadcasters.
Reality shows are big during the festive season. Our tentpole properties like Bigg Boss Hindi and Kannada, along with iconic MTV shows like Roadies and Hustle are lined up during this time.
Will the ICC Men’s World Cup affect other genres in your view – on viewership and spends?
We have seen that major sporting events have had minimal viewership impact on other TV genres. We saw it during the last ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup and even during the last few IPL seasons. We believe that the other TV genres will continue to hold strong and viewership will not be impacted by the upcoming ICC Men’s World Cup.
We strongly believe our tentpole properties like Bigg Boss will continue to do well and attract record audiences. These marquee programmes have not only become an integral part of our programming schedule but have also evolved into a cultural phenomenon that captivate the nation’s collective imagination. Our commitment to delivering high-quality, engaging content during these events has consistently paid dividends in terms of viewership, and this year, we are more confident than ever.
In terms of advertiser interest, we are not anticipating any impact on entertainment genre spends. Both our Bigg Boss franchises (Hindi and Kannada) are witnessing significant advertiser traction across various brands. We already have brands onboard from different sectors – auto, FMCG, beverages, paints, e-commerce, startups, real estate, etc.
We are confident that the deep consumer engagement opportunity that we provide for the brands through Bigg Boss is truly appreciated by our advertising partners and we are on course to do record breaking numbers on both Bigg Boss Hindi and Bigg Boss Kannada.
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