The country has seen an unprecedented lockdown since the outbreak of this pandemic. The recent outbreak of the COVID – 19 has caused a tectonic shift in most people’s lives. But, at the same time, this lockdown has also seen the viewership for television surge.
The English genre which had seen a lull in viewership in recent years is now seeing an upward spike, especially the Movie genre. English Movies have shown 91% growth in the Lockdown period, higher than some big genres like Hindi GECs, Regional GECs, Kids, and Infotainment. There has been a resurgence in the viewership compared to the post NTO span as well.
Source: BARC| 15-50 AB| India 10L+| Pre Lockdown: Wk 51’19 – 10’20; Post Lockdown: Wk 12-14’20| All Days; 24 Hrs| Growth % on Impressions| Screen: TV| SD+HD Channels
Source: BARC| 15-50 AB| India 10L+| Pre Lockdown: Wk 51’19 – 10’20; Post Lockdown: Wk 12-14’20| All Days;24 Hrs| Growth % on Impressions| Screen: TV| SD+HD Channels
Our channels like Movies Now & MNX have held their position within the genre, pre & post NTO. In the post NTO period, Movies Now has been a steady #1 in the genre with 28% share and MNX, #2 in the genre with 17% share. In the latest 3 weeks of Lockdown, Movies Now has continued to grow and lead the genre with 21% share
Medianews4U spoke to Vivek Srivastava. – President: Strategy & Business Head English Cluster at Times Network on their strategies and plans.
Post lockdown the English genre has shown maximum growth, what do you attribute this to?
At an overall level, the propensity to consume this content obviously has been higher during this period. If you look at the last three years, the reach for the category has actually gone up. The only time a slight drop was seen was during NTO. If you look at it intuitively as well, English as a language is growing in the environment in India and that is not only on TV. These are premium audiences which are more discerning, therefore, time spent on television obviously is slightly lesser. During the lockdown period, audiences are consuming every opportunity of content given to them. We are the high end of the spectrum and therefore there is a little bit of selectiveness, which obviously comes through.
The English genre across networks was not robust when it came to viewership, post lockdown we are seeing a huge spike in growth?
Post NTO the viewership had come down, but it was actually not at a category level. The numbers looked slightly down because of a few players due to which it had dropped significantly. Currently, we are at the pre-NTO level of viewership. It could, in fact, be slightly higher than the pre-NTO level of viewership as well for the English genre.
There were some players who lost 60-70% viewership post NTO. Our channels continued to have similar viewership even after NTO was implemented.
Our channel relatively took to the NTO challenge far more aggressively, they witnessed a drop but, very minimally from pre NTO to post NTO.
That had an impact, where the category showed a decline. The hearty thing that has happened in this lockdown period is that the entire genre including the players who had lost a significant amount of viewership is experiencing a spike in their viewership.
What has been the programming strategy to keep viewers hooked on to MNX & Movies Now?
Currently, the programming strategy during lockdown is to focus on the non-primetime hours as well. We are pushing a lot of our best content of promotion and the FPC is planned for the entire day. We are running the best movies and ensuring that the movie festivals are running along with campaigns and contests to entice our viewers and keep the hook longer during primetime. But, the current focus is on all-day programming, with a special incentive given to continue with their habit in the prime time as well.
Should TRAI now postpone the implementation of NTO 2.0?
I’m assuming that is inevitable and they will have to postpone its implementation. In this situation expecting the broadcast fraternity to implement across India, NTO 2.0 will be harsh.
The Finance Ministry has announced a slew of packages, as a broadcaster what are your expectations?
This period of lockdown will have an impact on the economy per se. We are expecting the government to take measures to handle the situation. The idea would be to increase spending and give as much money possible in the consumer’s hands so that the spending can come back. I think once that happens, the resurgence in business will be faster, what we obviously understand is that in this lockdown period people are not able to go ahead and buy many products.
There are certain categories which are completed by virtue of the fact that they are not available on the shelf and there’s no point for them to advertise. But we expect that the recovery should be much faster. For this to happen, the government should take these steps and gives a thumbs-up to businesses to ensure the livelihoods are retained. Also, to make sure that the lockdown has a minimal effect on the economy.
Post lockdown, what is the scenario you are looking at?
According to me there are two phases of it, one obviously on April 20. Here, we will be looking at sanctions that will be reduced. This effectively means things like a business on e-commerce and other businesses will resume and movement of goods will happen which I think is a step in the right direction.
My sense is that the social distancing norms will go on for a slightly longer period even when the lockdown ends, there will be a period of partial lockdown and partial movement of people, which will be a slower recovery. From a business standpoint, I think there will be categories that will start showing faster responses. A few categories which will take a little more time depending upon where they fall in this entire chase. For example, there are industries that cannot function right now purely because of the fact that the workers cannot go to the manufacturing unit. The government has done a fantastic job in the implementation of the lockdown, considering that it has a sizable impact on the slowdown of the spread of the virus and we are able to get back to normality faster, that recovery would obviously be faster. We expect a partial lockdown and therefore a partial opening by categories.
Are you seeing a spike in FMCG advertising post lockdown not only in the Movie genre but also in the News genre?
I would not single out only FMCG, I would say that a lot of the categories will get into the picture. In fact, some of the FMCG categories which are listed in the essential goods are available right now and a lot of the other goods are not available.
Despite all this, not just FMCG but I think a lot of the categories will slowly start opening up, slowly and gradually depending upon which way the lockdown is eased out and how they spread is contained.
On the appeal by NDF to the Minister, I&B minister what would be the ramifications if BARC does not put out its weekly numbers, putting aside advertising revenues?
I don’t really see any reason why BARC should not give out numbers, people are at home and they are watching television, and television viewing has increased. I know there must have been some factions spoken about it, but the fact of the matter is that in this period, we would have never known the numbers and we would have never known the amount of growth that we are witnessing. The mandate for BARC is to give out what India watches and if India is watching they should report it.