How the M&E industry is likely to shape up post-Covid

Published: June 5, 2020 7:16 AM

The national channel DD is ruling the TRP chart by airing erstwhile classics like Ramayan and Mahabharat

As we get into post-lockdown mode, there is a possibility of subscribers requesting for e-papers, instead of the printed versionAs we get into post-lockdown mode, there is a possibility of subscribers requesting for e-papers, instead of the printed version

By Anjan Ghosh

Maybe what we have been accepting as normal is just a result of circumstances that have shaped our lives in modern times. Is it all a compromise? What do we really prefer? A crowded food court or quiet family time? Being shielded by multiple screens or the warmth of human company? Taking time off to chase our passion or fulfilling continuous obligations? Is this the ‘new normal’ or are we becoming normal again?

Media consumption, in that context, may also trace back to our primal gratification needs for information, entertainment and identity.

Content conundrum

Let’s start with entertainment. Movies like Laxmmi Bomb, Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi will be released on OTT platforms straightaway. Big multiplex chains, the likes of Inox and PVR, have already shown their displeasure for the same. But consumers will embrace any medium that delivers ad-free movies; greater propensity to stay at home might trigger more family viewing. Theatres and multiplexes will, indeed, take their own sweet time to re-open. The release dates of big-budget movies like Sooryavanshi, 83 and Coolie No. 1 are uncertain; perhaps the makers have chosen to wait for the pandemic to settle.

There’s revenue loss due to non-availability of content, as advertising is being withheld. The television industry faces a unique conundrum with a captive audience but nothing new to air. But there can be a way to break-even this year for the television industry, as consumption will go multi-gadget. The national channel DD is ruling the TRP chart by airing erstwhile classics like Ramayan and Mahabharat. Consumers who don’t have access to OTT platforms will keep enjoying these classics with the family till fresh content comes in.

Radio and print

Loss of revenue for radio is happening mostly in the urban areas, where listenership was predominantly out of home. But it could witness a revival as the house-caged audience looks for other avenues for some passive entertainment. Fresh content can still be created as the production can be done remotely, without travel.

The print industry can actually call the lockdown a blessing in disguise. The cost of printing paper was going up, and the more they published, the more losses they incurred. So a digital newspaper or e-paper was the way for them. As we get into post-lockdown mode, there is a possibility of subscribers requesting for e-papers, instead of the printed version. This will help the publisher in a big way.

Global and local events, big and small, have been postponed. Smaller events could get rescheduled, but event management companies have already incurred a lot of expenses in paying hotels, banquets and making other arrangements for the events. Cash flow will be a big issue for this industry, but their calendar may get cramped up with clients vying for exposure, post-Covid.

There is a lot of money riding on the Indian Premier League (IPL). Being the biggest sporting event in the country, this cash-rich league is under threat of being either postponed to July-September, or getting cancelled altogether. If it gets cancelled, both the BCCI and Star network, apart from the franchise owners, will incur huge losses — estimated to be upwards of Rs 15,000 crore.

Brands will lose out on the biggest reach and penetration-driving opportunity. However, this may have a positive impact on the brands’ savings. A large advertiser usually would be spending close to Rs 80 crore on IPL; this money will now either be saved or used on some other medium. Experiments galore could be the mantra this year for brands.

The author is senior VP & lead – quantitative practice, Hansa Research

Read Also: Perfetti Van Melle India’s Rajesh Ramakrishnan on life beyond work

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