DD National, with its reruns of Ramayan, leading the growth of Hindi GEC category
Reruns have become the norm on general entertainment channels (GECs) during the lockdown owing to lack of fresh content. DD National has brought back iconic shows such as Ramayan, Buniyaad, Circus, Shaktimaan and Byomkesh Bakshi. Colors is broadcasting reruns of shows Balika Vadhu, Jai Shri Krishna, Mahakali, Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush, Dance Deewane and Comedy Nights With Kapil. Meanwhile, Zee TV is playing reruns of Jamai Raja, Pavitra Rishta, Jodha Akbar, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs 2017 and Hum Paanch. Office Office is being broadcast on Sony SAB and Star Plus’ Mahabharat and Siya Ke Ram are back on TV too.
A number of these reruns are being broadcast during the non-primetime slots on TV. Non-primetime viewing has increased by 79% in India since the lockdown as per a study by Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC) and Nielsen.
The GEC genre has grown by 17% during the week of April 11-17 over the sample pre-covid period in January. “The reruns of classics seem to be reaping benefits for channels like DD National and other GECs too in terms of viewership,” says Sunil Lulla, CEO, BARC India. At the beginning of the lockdown, in the week of March 28-April 3, GEC viewership grew only by 9%. The Hindi GEC genre, which has grown by 43%, clocked an all-time high viewership with 850 crore impressions in week 15 (April 11-17) in the Hindi speaking markets since 2015. A large part of the Hindi GEC growth can be attributed to the tremendous surge in the viewership of DD National due to the return of marquee shows on the channel. DD National, which does not typically find itself in the top 10 channels list, has become the reigning GEC during the lockdown in India and has left leading entertainment channels like Zee TV, Colors, Star Plus and Sony Entertainment Television far behind.
The channel’s leadership position has made it a favourite among advertisers, media planners say. The number of advertisers on Ramayan has increased from three at the beginning of the lockdown to 42 in week 15. A 10-second ad spot on Ramayan is in the range of Rs 65,000 to Rs 75,000.
“It is unfortunate that despite high GEC viewership, revenue is not following the eyeballs,” says Sudhir Kumar, director, offline media, DCMN. Indian Broadcasting Foundation has noted that the coronavirus lockdown has resulted in nearly a 50% drop in advertising bookings for TV channels.
According to Vishal Shah, managing partner, MediaCom India, “Advertisers are not very keen on buying ad spots on these reruns; what they are interested in is brand integrations and branded content to stay visible and relevant.”
In week 14 (April 4-April 10) GECs saw a 34% drop in free commercial time (FCT) and the genre has maintained this trend in week 15 as per BARC and Nielsen. Kumar adds that “since most reruns are not receiving high ratings, channels are under pressure to give extra ad slots for the same deal amount under the CPRP (cost per rating point) model which is a function of a show’s ratings.”
Yet, broadcasters say that the advertiser response has been encouraging towards the classics. “Amul has picked up sponsorship on an older season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs, and many others are expressing interest in associating with other classics like Hum Paanch as well,” informs Ashish Sehgal, chief growth officer – advertisement revenue, Zee Entertainment Enterprises.
Experts believe that once the supply chains come back online, advertisers will be more willing to spend on television advertising. “The lockdown has hit the manufacturing, supply chain and consumption of all brands and that is invariably having an effect on advertising spends,” says Manisha Sharma, chief content officer, Hindi mass entertainment, Viacom18.