Data from TAM Media Research shows overall volume of advertising has dropped 12% between January to April 2020 when compared to the same period last year
With the lockdown 2.0 in effect, children are cooped in the house all day for the past month. This has resulted in a viewership spike for kids channels on television. As per the latest Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) report, kids channels have posted a 39% jump in viewership. To meet this ever-growing demand for kids content, broadcasters are adopting new techniques from launching new shows, moving their content to the digital platform to forming strategic partnerships. “Under normal circumstances, this would anyway be the time when kids would start with their vacations as exams across the country would be over. With lockdown in effect, it becomes a great situation for companies to come up with offerings that are tailor-made for kids,” Aparna Acharekar, programming head, ZEE5 India, said.
Further, in an effort to leverage the spike in viewership on Doordarshan due to the telecast of Ramayan and Mahabharat, WarnerMedia owned Cartoon Network recently entered into a strategic partnership with Prasar Bharati. As per the arrangement, Doordarshan will simulcast Chota Bheem. “These are challenging times and we believe that POGO’s fun-filled, relatable content will keep kids engaged and entertained. The agreement ensures that an even larger number of young viewers across the country will be able to enjoy ‘Chhota Bheem’, one of our most prominent shows,” Siddharth Jain, MD, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in South Asia said. Additionally, the broadcaster has rolled out a series of new shows such as Chhota Bheem Kungfu Dhamaka and Bandbudh aur Budbak ahead of schedule. These shows were meant to be launched in May. Similarly, Disney Channel has rolled out new series such as Guddu, Bapu and Gadget Guru Ganesha as summer releases.
However, the surge in viewership is yet to translate into advertising revenue. In fact, data from TAM Media Research shows overall volume of advertising has dropped 12% between January to April 2020 when compared to the same period last year. “It is an unprecedented situation and in this market, it is not easy for any media platform to monetise their platform,” Anand Chakravarthy, managing director, Essence, said.
The TV industry reported a 6.4% growth in advertising revenue in 2019 to reach Rs 32,000, Ficci-EY report, revealed. Of this, kids channels account for 5% that is Rs 1,600 crore of the ad volume. According to industry estimates, the cost of a ten-second ad spot on kids channels such as Nick, Disney, among others ranges between Rs 3,000 – Rs 3,500 during prime time that is between 8 pm – 10 pm. Interestingly, there has been no change in ad rates for kids channels for the most part. However, some channels are offering a discount of 10%. This is primarily due to the fact that FMCG players are the main advertisers on kids channels. Yet, as per the TAM data, only 136 brands advertised on kids channels in April 2020 as opposed to January 2020 (pre-covid period) where 251 brands were advertising.
Taking the note of the viewership surge on television, over-the-top streaming platforms have also upped their game when it comes to kids content. From ZEE5 launching a dedicated kids segment, ZEE5 Kids for free, to Disney+Hotstar offering Disney+ content in addition to commissioning new episodes of existing content. Subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) platform VOOT Kids claims to have seen a six times rise in daily subscription addition in the month of March over the pre-lockdown period. “Lockdown has provided us with an additional boost in viewership. The number of viewers registering on our platform daily, without any marketing, has gone up by 50% as opposed to pre-lockdown period,” Saugato Bhowmik, business head, VOOT Kids, said.
However, Chakravarthy believes that OTT platforms and television cannot be compared when it comes to viewership predominantly because on TV, not just the kids but also the parents are watching the content, thereby resulting in co-viewing the content. Additionally, subscriber addition on streaming platforms is expected to normalise post the lockdown ends and things start to get normal again, however at a reduced customer acquisition expense. As per the industry estimates, at present, most of the OTT platforms are operationally viable due to a tremendous reduction in customer acquisition cost and other marketing expenses.