What Onam heralds for Kerala's TV channels

When it is half a year for the rest of the world, the new year dawns in Kerala when the Malayalam calendar heralds the arrival of the month of Chingam. In agrarian Kerala, Chingam was the most vital month of the year for it was the harvest season with the promise of year long prosperity. Add a dollop of ancient history of a wronged, but redeemed king (Mahabali) who visits to check if his subjects are as prosperous today as when he last saw them, and Chingam has all the glamour of a superstar’s new movie.

Kerala has long since been shorn of its glory agrarian days and having never tried its hand in industry, has now settled down to being a service economy bolstered by tourism and money from the Middle East (the (in) famous “Money Order economy”). Yet, for the average Keralite there are no spring- summer-winter season shopping nor end-of-season sales as tempting and as awaited as the Big Fat Onam Shopping !

About four weeks leading to Onam and a couple of weeks afterwards, the consumer in Kerala watches as national brands and local biggies line up launching advertising blitzkriegs and never before offers . New launches, exchange offers, scratch-and-win schemes, BoGo offers, raffles, the works! The retail industry goes into an overdrive. And why not? White goods brands reach 40-45 per cent of their annual sales target for Kerala in the tiny three month (even lesser) window of opportunity that Onam offers. The buyer meanwhile, having deferred purchase to make a kill at the Big Fat Onam Sale, slowly loosens her purse strings. It is Win-Win all around.

In 2015, Onam was on Friday 28 August. A study of TV consumption in the Top 10 Malayalam channels (Asianet, Asianet News, Asianet Movies, Asianet Plus, Surya, Kiran, Mazhavil Manorama, Flowers, Manorama News and Kairali) reveals many interesting insights into the melee that Onam is. In August 2015 (source: TAM), the jewellery category, which is anyway among the top consumers of TV ad space, hiked its presence by 56 per cent over July and promptly slashed it by 59 per cent in September.

No surprise there, as auspicious Chingam is sandwiched between two inauspicious months, hence is a very busy wedding season. There can be no Onam without Onasadya (a grand meal), who would know it better than Instant Mix brands (payasams etc) that upped their TV presence more than two fold! Onam is as synonymous with Onakkodi (new clothes) as it is with the Onasadya. Textile retailers wishing to make hay while the Onam sun shone, hiked their TV presence by 120 per cent in August from July, and almost went incognito with an 84 per cent slash in September. The same trend was seen in the readymade clothes category as well.

The category that has the highest stake in Onam, retail- durables/electronics ,was out there on a limb with close to fivefold (370 per cent) increase in TV presence ! Following Onam, there was almost total silence from this category. They were probably laughing all their way to the bank.

Automobile manufacturers (cars/jeeps) and their compatriots – two wheeler makers increased TV presence by 44 per cent and 69 per cent respectively in the run up to Onam which they promptly slashed in September. Bright, sunny days of Chingam after the monsoons were a welcome reprieve to the paints category which hiked its presence by a whopping 80 times, and bucking the general trend, hiked it by another 25 per cent in September. On the other hand, the usual top three TV advertisers in Kerala -chocolates, toilet soaps and milk beverages- piped down during Onam month, reducing their TV presence by 18 per cent to 20 per cent.

Leading brands earmark close to 25 per cent to 30 per cent of their annual ad budget for Kerala for the Onam season alone. For TV channels, this is the season to air film premieres, special events, programs with celebrities, all aimed at capturing eyeballs and at creating the right content to place the sudden surge in advertising. Total advertising duration (in the 10 Malayalam channels under study) shot up by about 35 per cent in Onam month compared to the previous month. Asianet and Mazhavil, the top two Malayalam GECs, garnered close to 45 per cent MORE advertising in August 2015 compared to the previous month.

The viewers, in whose honor all the fuss is made, were very obliging on their part. Time spent analysis shows that on the days prior to Onam an average 40 minutes was spent on Asianet, which shot up to 57 minutes on the first Onam day and further to 65 minutes on Onam Day (day two of Onam a.k.a ThiruOnam is the actual Onam day). The same trend is visible across all Malayalam GECs. Mazhavil Manorama’s viewers, for instance, who used to spend an average 12 minutes on the channel pre-Onam, hiked their viewing to 16 minutes and 18 minutes on first and ThiruOnam days respectively. Surya increased its channel share to an average 14 per cent on the two days of Onam from its usual eight per cent to nine per cent . As the day finally drew to a close on 28 August 2015, the Bhima Jewelers Jewelers group had garnered the highest presence having spent 3790s on air (excluding promo tags and other promotional activities of the brand). In terms of Impact, another jeweler Josco got top marks garnering 493 GRPs.

In 2016, Onam is scheduled to arrive mid-September. Every brand worth its salt is already out there with guns blazing to woo the consumer and make the most of the Onam fervor. It is no secret that Kerala economy needs a boost, and Onam shopping is just what the doctor ordered. All that remains to be seen is whether the consumer will be lured by the offers and whether she will script the Onam of every brand’s dreams.

The author is the managing partner of Chennai based adMax Media Consultants.

(The views and data expressed in this article are entirely the author’s. is a medium on which they are being expressed)

Latest Reads
Zee Telugu to launch new fiction show 'Akka Chellellu'

Zee Telugu is all set to launch a new fiction show, Akka Chellellu. The show is slated to commence from 25 March, on Zee Telugu and Zee Telugu HD during the 5.30-6 pm time slot.

Television TV Channels Regional
LF launches new show 'Dakshin Diaries'

Lifestyle channel LF has launched a new show Dakshin Diaries which includes avenues that are familiar but when explored reveals a curated mix of culture, cuisine, travel, music, and faith.

Television TV Channels Specialised and Niche
India News curates special programming for IPL 2019

As the cricket fever is rising up with 2019 Indian Premiere League (IPL) season 12, beginning from 23rd March, India News, one of India’s leading Hindi news channel curates special programming lineup for the IPL series under the umbrella branding of Jhamajham Cricket, the special cricket show...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
NewsX Special Shows on 23rd & 24th March

This weekend on NewsX - No Holds Barred, there will be two different episodes on Saturday & Sunday.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Sun TV Network rejigs top level management

Sun TV Network has been witnessing a top-level rejig, according to reports. R Mahesh Kumar, who currently serves as president, has been elevated as MD of the company, following the resignation of the network’s MD and CEO K Vijaykumar which is effective 31 March 2019.

Television TV Channels People
Pakistan bans IPL telecast

The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that is slated to commence from today, 23 March 2019, will not be telecast in Pakistan, confirmed the country’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry.

Television TV Channels Sports
Watch the hair-raising sequel ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ this Saturday only on &flix!

What happens when the horrors of your past come back to haunt you? #LeapForth into the world of fear as &flix, the destination for the biggest Hollywood hits, is all set to air ‘Insidious: The Last Key’.

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
IPL comes to Snapchat

Snapchat has teamed up with Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders this IPL season.

Television TV Channels Sports
National Geographic Expeditions to offer enriching immersive travel experiences to Indian Travellers

As Indian travellers look for rich travel experiences in a burgeoning luxury travel industry, National Geographic Expeditions launches in India.

Television TV Channels Factual @ Discovery

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories