Television

Rural markets drive Hindi GEC FTA channels

Rural markets drive Hindi GEC FTA channels

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BENGALURU: Hindi GECs or general entertainment channels draw some of the largest eyeballs across India. “My aim is to get that extra tear from the housewife’s eyes during primetime. I want to keep her riveted to my programmes, to my channel,” the head of a cluster of channels in South India once said.
 
Hindi GECs are certainly the most important medium for any media planner. A 2017 Pitch Madison report estimated that Hindi GECs including FTA Hindi GEC channels had about 28 percent or Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 crore of the advertisers’ television ad expenses pie, which the report pegged at Rs 19,650 crore. Reports of various agencies spoke about the growth of FTA channels – be it the number of FTA channels, growth in viewership or growth in advertisements and revenues from FTA channels. FTA Hindi GEC channels contributions to ad revenue to grow from 20 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2018. Fears were voiced about FTA channels’ cannibalisation of subscription revenues.

Explaining the growth of FTA, an Ernst & Young report in 2017 said that FTA growth was supported by the entire ecosystem. The greater visibility on rural viewership made the FTA option very attractive for Hindi news channels, almost all of which had turned FTA. The EY report said broadcasters opened up to the idea of providing many FTA options because the free TV market in India was poised to grow primarily due to the rise of DD Free Dish, which had become the largest DTH operator in the country and the availability of increased rural data from Broadcast Audience Research Council of India or BARC, which had provided greater visibility to broadcasters. This, in turn, opened up avenues to advertisers who could not earlier afford the higher ad rates of the mainstream GEC said the EY report.

A September 2018 KPMG report on the status of the Media and Entertainment Industry (M&E) said that besides increased digital access resulting in increased consumption, growing demand from rural and regional markets was attracting the attention of both advertisersand content platforms. The KPMG report said that in the long term, these markets – digital and rural are expected to provide significant support for growth of the Indian M&E industry.

So which were the most watched Hindi GECs until week 40 of 2018 (Saturday, 29 September 2018 to Friday, 5 October 2018). And how do FTA Hindi GECs’ stand in relation to their pay TV siblings?

BARC data for 2018 seems to substantiate the conclusions by a number of reports. It is rural HSM that drives ratings up for FTAs and consequently in combined HSM (U+R). BARC publishes weekly data of the top 10 Hindi GEC channels in the combined urban and rural hindi speaking markets or HSM (U+R), and the HSM urban –HSM (U) and HSM rural – HSM (R). BARC defines HSM as all states in the country except for the four South Indian language markets. These languages are Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. The latest data available at the time of writing this paper was for week 40 of 2018.

According to BARC data for weeks 1 to 40 of 2018 (Saturday, 30 December 2017 to Friday,5 October 2018), four of the seven channels that appeared for each of the 40 weeks of 2018 in HSM (U+R) were Pay TV channels and three were free to air or FTA . In the case of HSM (U), of the nine channels that appeared in BARC’s lists of top 10 Hindi GEC urban weekly lists during each of the first 40 weeks or 2018, six were pay TV and three were FTA. In the case of rural HSM, five of the nine channels that have appeared in their respective BARC weekly lists, five were FTA and four were pay TV.

The four major networks that cater to the HSM GEC market – Star India, Sony Pictures Network India (SPN), Viacom 18 and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) each have at least one FTA Hindi GEC each.  

It is Zeel’s FTA Hindi GEC that has been the most consistent in terms of presence in BARC’s weekly lists in the combined HSM urban and rural, as well as in HSM rural. Overall, it was the most watched Hindi GEC during the first 40 weeks of 2018. Next in terms of ranking is Star India’s pay TV Hindi GEC Star Bharat that has also dominated HSM (U+R). In individual HSM (U) and HSM (R) Star Bharat had the fifth and fourth most weekly impressions respectively during the first 40 weeks of 2018.

Urban audiences seem to prefer Pay TV to FTA based on weekly data for first 40 weeks of 2018. Six of the nine top Hindi GECs were pay TV, followed by three FTA channels. Based on BARC data, Sony Pal was the most watched FTA channel among urban HSM.

In the case of rural audiences, FTA channels ruled in terms of weekly impressions during the first 40 weeks of 2018. The first four ranked Hindi GECs during the first 40 weeks of 2018 were FTA. Zee Anmol’s dominance in HSM (U+R) in based on HSM (R).


 

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