Television channels step into the Great Outdoors

The world is a communications village. And television is one of the media for facilitating that communication. Today it is no surprise to see the same channel being beamed simultaneously all over the world, with some tweaking to make it suitable for local tastes. In India television has exploded into our homes over the past decade with more than a 100 channels making a beeline for eyeballs.



This makes for a highly competitive industry with each player's survival hinging on a dedicated viewing of its programmes, by a large and ever increasing base of people. That is its only source of revenue (apart from subscription fees). The larger the number of people who watch a channel's programs, the greater is the possibility of advertisers getting interested in using it as a vehicle for advertising their brands. The more the advertisers who placed their adverts on the channel, the higher its revenue. The fatter the take-home packet on the revenue front, the more the channel can invest in better and refined contents.


TV channels form an integral part of the entertainment industry. By definition, entertainment, as the word suggests, is an ongoing activity. One that must be entertaining, enjoyable and most importantly, novel on an everyday basis. Repetition, on television, creates boredom and causes irritation.

"Oh God, I saw this yestraday and again in the afternoon!! I'll switch channels and see if there is another one that is showing new and refreshing fare," are the viewers' thoughts.


In such a scenario how can a TV channel find the high ground ? How can it increase its viewership without taking a hard hit?


How can it make more and more people stay glued to its programs?


How can it do this such that it matches its change in its program content?


Which is the medium which offers immediacy, is communicative, is eyecatching, offers colour, is seen by a large number of people who are walking, commuting, shopping, or driving to or from work and offers short duration contracts and is not prohibitive in terms of costing? The answer if you have guessed by now, is The Great Outdoors, mate.


Take a look at the comparitive advantages that hoardings/billboards offer over other media vehicles. In fact, it would not be an idle boast if one said they are idle for television channels and producers who are looking at a good way to target viewers and specific audiences.


Newspapers: Newspapers offer the benefit of immediacy. But they are read only by their base of readers. A TV channel would have to advertise at a very high frequency for the program content to be known and viewed by its base of readers. Hence, in terms of reach and cost, newspapers work out to be an expensive option.


Magazines: Mags like newspapers, can be read only by the base readers. Hence, they are an expensive proposition.


The Great Outdoors:

* The medium offers immense repeat viewership of a communications message, without incurring any repetitive costs. About 10 strategically located sites, in Mumbai, would offer the advertiser a solution that would help him cover the mass of the audience in the city.

* In the great outdoors, the medium is the message. It's the editorial or content ambience that determine readership or viewership of a medium. Billboards or hoardings fit that to the tee, they provide advertisements with a high "opportunity to see."

* As far as billboards or the outdoors are concerned the audience has zero access cost and no threshold at all to receive the communication - except for the gift of vision.

* Due to the heavy fragmentation/ high clutter of media like Print and TV, the time spent on these media by audiences has reduced considerably.

*The Outdoors is considered to be a 'mass' media vehicle while all other media are increasingly defining themselves to a particular audience by content, design etc.

* Visual imagery can be enhanced through the use of top quality illumination and well executed creative, thus helping billboards achieve their promise as traffic stoppers. In the process, they well may help build quick brand awareness.

Savvy marketers at select television channels, have given a shot in the arm to the hoardings business, stepping into the vaccuum left by dot com clients who disappeared once the hype died down. Television marketers who have not used hoardings to their maximum potential would do well in taking another hard look at the medium.


Shankar Shetty

The writer is associate vice-president, Primesite (a division of Mudra Communications). The views expressed in the article are his own.

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