#Forecast2021: TV advertising may see biggest growth in five years

Sports and news genre to lead the industry growth in CY’21


NEW DELHI: Indian television made a round trip to hell over the course of 2020, but the new year seems like the beginning of a positive era for the industry, as far as its stature as the primary advertising medium is concerned. While it might still be a few quarters away from ad revenues rising to the pre-Covid2019 levels, the medium is making a comeback in the media mix of a number of brands that gave it the cold shoulder last year. Also, marquee events like the legislative elections in several big states including West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, IPL 14, the T20 cricket world cup, and possibly the Olympics could well be irresistible bait for advertisers. 

If industry insiders are to be believed, TV advertising will remain stunted for the first quarter of CY’21 and only pick up with full force post that. 

Havas Media India CEO Mohit Joshi says, “2021 is a year of recovery.  TV will continue to play an important role in the media mix.  All categories except travel and hospitality will see a recovery in marketing activities. We have the IPL back in April. Besides that, we have cricket practically across all months including the T20 World Cup in Q4. All these will ensure TV gets a significant share of the media spends.”

Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd CEO Hiren Gada shares that the outlook for 2021 seems promising, with a number of new launches, with more in the pipeline, galvanising the industry. “Additionally, the real estate sector is seeing an improved demand, which will fuel other related categories like building materials, furniture, and consumer goods, etc. These categories are going to get big on TV this year,” he adds.

Other categories going big on TV are e-commerce, e-education, gaming, and digital-first brands.

In fact, television will record 20-25 per cent more than the overall volumes of 2020, believes DDB Mudra Group executive director & OMD Mudramax president Sathyamurthy Namakkal. “H1 ‘21 will see a growth of 10 per cent year-on-year in comparison and H2 ‘21 will be 15-20 per cent more. If we compare it to normal times of 2019, H2 ‘21 will be higher from that as well.” 

However, many clients will continue to resist the sponsorship and be happy with vanilla FCT advertising. “It will be evident in this and the coming quarter. Sponsorship costs have been rationalised now. There will be few takers for sponsorships and clients will prefer a share of voice-led vanilla GRP advertising,” Namakkal points out. 

Think & Learn Pvt Ltd (BYJU's) head of marketing Atit Mehta went a step further to claim that TV will witness a growth bigger than the past five years in 2025, backed by the cache of upcoming large-scale sporting events. 

The industry is also optimistic that TV and digital will grow together, as OTT will begin to co-exist with linear television as we know today. 

Genre Analysis

Much like the previous year, 2021 is going to be big for news and sports genres, with rate stability expected to hit post the first quarter of CY21. GECs, while standing a little far from ad rate improvements, might not see any sluggish trends in terms of ad volumes. As per industry insiders, most categories have already started coming back to television from the 2020 festive season, and following Q2 of CY21, the spike will become only more apparent. 

The potential of the sports genre and its hold on advertisers was made more apparent in 2020 with IPL crossing all records of ad revenues and volumes. Therefore, with the T20 World Cup on the horizon and an expectation of Olympics happening, the genre is counting on a massive uptick in cash registers. 

On the other hand, the news genre witnessed a meteoric rise in viewership in 2020 and is expected to retain almost 50 per cent of the acquired audience. Also, impending elections are bound to draw eyeballs, attracting advertisers on board. A number of networks have already started tapping into the West Bengal market with the launch of their Bangla-language news channels, including TV9 and Republic. ABP Ananda has announced a slew of shows around its election coverage in West Bengal. 

After a strong showing last year, the  news genre hit a stumbling block when the BARC suspended weekly ratings data. What has been the long-term impact of this unprecedented move? Well, according to Joshi, advertising on these channels has seen no major impact. “We must understand that TRPs are a way to support the gut feeling and our own understanding, and not a word of God. We are already using tools like Zapr for our clients. The findings are almost always in line with BARC suggestions.”

As for GECs, ongoing reality shows like Taare Zameen Par (Star Plus), KBC (Sony TV), Bigg Boss (Colors), and Indian Idol (Sony TV) are going strong when it comes to sponsors and advertisers. Big brands like Vedantu, Patanjali, Colgate, MPL, etc are associated with these programmes. 

All of these shows are expected to wrap within the next two months, which will eventually pave the way for new launches. Sony has started running promos for its hit dance competition Super Dancer already, and sources tell us that Colors is once again gearing up to bring back Madhuri Dixit-judged Dance Deewane, which stalled last year because of the lockdown. Apart from that, big properties like Khatron Ke Khiladi (Colors), Nach Baliye (Star Plus), etc may also be renewed. 

In terms of soaps and dramas, a bunch of shows which debuted in H2 of 2020 are enjoying a good run. Be it Star Plus’ Anupama and Imlie, Sony TV’s Love Story 9 Months Ki, or Colors’ Molkki. 

More than Hindi-language channels, regional markets will drive the maximum growth this year, paired with the increased digital presence in those areas, highlights OMD India CEO Priti Murthy. Dabur India Ltd head of media Rajiv Dubey agrees. In fact, he insists that viewership in Hindi speaking belt is going to be superseded by those in regions like West Bengal, Maharashtra, and the south Indian states. 

Says he: “TV minus sports also is going to be very significant. Lots of markets are going to see traction like West Bengal, Maharashtra, and the southern states. If you look at their TV consumption, it is very huge. Every year you see huge growth in these markets, a new set of channels becoming number one. Then there is the news genre. It saw huge growth in 2020 and went up to demand 21 per cent viewership share during the pandemic time. It has come down, but is holding at 10 per cent right now. As far as rate are concerned, I see rate hikes happening in the sports genre and not in GECs. Overall, money is going to move on TV.”

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