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"What‘s On" in 2011 . . . And What‘s Not -By Zeel chief revenue officer & head niche channels Joy Chakraborthy

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With macro-economic indicators - like a high growth GDP rate and a steady increase in consumer spending - expected to propel media into a 20 per cent plus growth trajectory in 2011, the television advertising industry couldn‘t have asked for a more conducive environment as it embarks on its last leg to become the largest media. As such, 2011 promises to be a defining year, with television expected to grow at above 20 per cent and thereby significantly narrowing the gap with print. 

So, what are key trends that will fuel this growth:

•The Hindi GEC genre will continue to be the primary source of audience engagement & entertainment. The reasons behind its popularity have been innovative programming, differentiated content and well thought-out distribution processes. These strategies synchronized well with the unarticulated desires of the viewers who were looking for fresh contents instead of the tedious "saas bahu" sagas.

•Nonetheless, soaps - which have been the mainstay of television advertising - have experimented with certain innovations in the content area and which have yielded positive results. The good news is that content based around social issues are expected to take the viewers engagement quotient to a much higher level. Also, the PLC of soaps has drastically reduced from being an unending saga extending into 5 years plus into a much crisper & shorter version (not lasting beyond 18 months to maximum of 2 years). All these continuous re-inventions will help enhance the interest level of the audience.

•Moreover, to complement regular soaps, celebrity-based reality content is emerging as a tried and tested content formula to develop "impact properties" that engender high audience involvement with regular appointment viewership and also result much higher ad yields. Also, constant experimentations on the various types of "reality" have drastically expanded the width of such content, which - over a period of time - will emerge as an independent genre itself.

•Another form of "impact properties" is the airing of movies by GECs which, by attracting large scale viewership, has emerged as an absolutely high value advertising proposition for clients as well as the GECs. As such, channels are racing towards blocking new releases that have the potential to be monetized.

With all the Hindi GECs now being available across the globe, a new source of international revenue will emerge as a focus area for most multinational clients.

•Regional GECs are neck-to-neck with Hindi GECs, when it comes to viewership share. With the number of regional channels having increased to 150+, ad revenue growth across regionals will gallop at 30 per cent plus, which is well above that of other genres.

•The English niche genre is set to expand with a proliferation of new channels creating a high demand for differentiated content, which will not only boost the television industry into a propitious phase of rapid growth, but also result in an exponential increase in ad rates.

•2011 will be a mega year for sports with the World Cup and IPL being one-after-the-other. With the ad spends being swerved towards cricket - during this period - what remains to be seen is the impact that it will have on the fortune of other genres.

•The music genre - a crowded, highly fragmented and low viewership genre - is all set to expand on the back of rising music acquisition cost which will help create differentiation in content, thereby resulting in channel preference. Nonetheless, as it goes through this process of developing individual channel preferences, the going will be tough for pure music channels as we are likely to see a lot of shuffling in the content and programming to attract the audience.

•Pay TV household is expanding at a faster pace (led by DTH). The greatest opportunities naturally lie in the development of digital distribution platforms for TV such as DTH, digital music, digital media advertising (internet, mobile, digital signage) & global cinema content. Rapid growth in the digital addressable platforms, leading to targeted viewing, will fuel ad revenues to grow at a fast pace.

•With the imminent launch of 3G, content distribution will take a huge leap through a series of co-opetitive advertising initiatives, all of which will create new sources of revenues.

•Sectorally speaking, on the back of a stable economic growth, lifestyle products (like high-end cosmetics, auto consumer durables, etc.) along with financial are expected to be the high growth drivers for the next year.

Not only do the above represent a huge scope of growth but, more importantly, given the ability of the industry to not only leverage emerging opportunities but also to ride series of disruptions (be it technological or economical) - that it may face in the coming year - there surely is no stopping on its march to media dominance.

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