GECs survive cricket storm to post healthy growth

MUMBAI: Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) have weathered the recessionary storm and will be posting an ad revenue growth of 24 per cent this fiscal, according to a senior executive of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel).

Sports broadcasters failed to crack into the Hindi GEC space despite being blessed with a heavy load of cricket content. "Hindi GECs will end up with an ad revenue of Rs 24 billion in FY‘10, up from Rs 19.34 billion a year ago. Cricket under-delivered this year and failed to eat into the GEC market," says Zeel chief revenue officer Joy Chakraborthy.
The downturn in the market also led advertisers to turn to GECs as they provided safer options of deliveries, Chakraborthy adds.

Another factor fuelling the growth is the rise of Colors, the entertainment channel from the Viacom18 stable. Industry sources say Colors has the potential of ending the fiscal at Rs 6 billion as it has overturned Star Plus to grab the No. 1 spot during the course of the year.
"Colors has more than compensated for the losses that could have come from the leading channels whose GRPs (gross rating points) dropped. The knock out of 9X also did not take monies away from the GECs," says the head of a leading broadcasting company.

Some media analysts are more cautious in their estimates. According to one estimate, the ad revenue pie is expected to grow to Rs 23 billion in FY‘10, up 18 per cent from the year-ago period.
Chakraborthy expects the GECs to clock faster growth in the next fiscal with the expansion of the Tam panel into smaller towns and the improvement in the ad economy. "In these new markets, GECs are more accepted and consumed," he avers.

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