According to BARC data, viewership on GEC during non-prime time rose 59% during the lockdown period
Traditionally advertisers pay more for ad slots during prime-time that is between 8 pm to 11 pm, however post the implementation of nationwide lockdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus — the rules of the game have changed. Afternoon band interestingly, not only has posted an increase in eyeballs – it has even managed to get advertisers’ money. According to Divya Karani, CEO, dentsuX, in these unprecedented times, the definition of prime-time itself has changed. “The rise in non-prime time viewership is due to multiple factors, people staying at home, lack of original content during prime time, inter-media factors such as an increase in OTT subscriptions, as well as the fact that people have already spent considerable time on TV during the day,” she added. As per the latest Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) report, general entertainment channels (GEC) have posted a 9% jump in viewership, despite the lack of new content. Interestingly, the viewership growth in GEC has been led by non-prime time band (afternoon time) as it witnessed a 59% rise while prime time posted a 7% drop.
The return of old shows on television is one of the reasons behind the surge in viewership. Led by public broadcaster Prasar Bharti’s Doordarshan, from ZEE to Star India – all GECs are currently broadcasting the old shows. “The social confinement in India is leading to higher watch time on television throughout the day, many of the classics are performing equally well as the original shows did in the pre lockdown stage,” Prathyusha Agarwal, chief consumer officer, ZEE, said. Zee TV is currently airing shows such as Kasamh Se and Pavitra Rishta in the afternoon band. The broadcaster claims to have witnessed a 20% growth in viewership. Meanwhile, Star is airing its mythological show Siya Ke Ram and Mahabharat.
As per TAM Media Research, the surge in eyeballs led to a 58% growth in advertising volume on GECs during the afternoon band, recording a percentage increase over prime time band which posted 57% growth. However, industry analysts believe that this will not last for long. “This is because of the steep rise in viewership. Advertisers will chase eyeballs and when viewers switch time bands advertisers will follow,” Lloyd Mathias, angel investor and business strategist, opined.
The TV industry reported a 6.4% growth in advertising revenue in 2019 to reach Rs 32,000 crore, Ficci-EY report, revealed. Of this, GEC accounts for 51% that is Rs 16,320 crore of the ad volume. According to industry estimates, the cost of a ten-second ad spot during the non-prime time – that is between 2 pm to 6 pm on popular GECs such as Star, Colors, among others ranges between Rs 10,000 – Rs 20,000. According to Navin Khemka, CEO South Asia, Mediacom, this is a temporary phenomenon. “Ad volumes will go back to pre-covid levels as people resume work and lockdown eases out,” he said. Before the spread of the novel coronavirus, broadcasters would bundle and sell non-prime-time and primetime band together as the former had few takers. However, post lockdown non-primetime time band is being sold separately.