A blessing in disguise for broadcasters

As people cocoon themselves in their homes, viewership on TV and OTT will see a rise.

MUMBAI: The Coronavirus pandemic and the consequent decision to suspend shoots from 19-31 March have proved to be a blessing in disguise for broadcasters. With major shut down of malls, theatres, schools, colleges etc., people are restricting themselves within the narrow confines of their homes, spending more time watching television or exploring OTT platforms. In such a situation, advertisers looking for building brand salience would definitely like to explore the opportunity with better SOV. And broadcasters, needless to say, should have their smart programming strategies in place for the next two to three weeks.

Omnicom Media Group India Investment & Enterprise national head Yatin Balyan says: “We need to analyse this from a shorter-time frame perspective. Logistics have got hit, travel is restricted, people are not venturing out and I believe the scenario would continue for a week/two or more based on the situation. This will eventually have an adverse impact on business. Yes, certain categories will have more impact than others. Advertisers in specific categories may consider postponing media activities. But I see business getting impacted for a couple of months and once normalcy in attained business will recover very quickly.”

Joel Multimedia founder and CEO Varghese Thomas says, “Well when I look at the coming quarters, there will be a slow phase across the board. It’s not only for the film, serial or content industry but it’s affecting all industries.  So, there is a slow down we are seeing across.  This would have a direct impact on the performance of these production houses in terms of making new contents and their bottom lines if the date gets extended beyond 31st March. This will also have an impact on the lives of people who work on these production sets.”

He informs, “As far as broadcasters are concerned, they are dependent on their production team to deliver fresh content every day or on a weekly basis for telecast.   This cycle may get disturbed due to the embargo and it can create a shortage of fresh content.  The programming team may have to re-work their FPCs to fix the short coming and to find solutions to feed the audience with interesting content from their libraries.  This is applicable for all the platforms whether it’s a movie theatre, tv channels or an OTT platform.  There would be a drop in viewership in case these channels are not able to telecast new episodes of their fictions or reality shows.  They could fill the slots with repeat telecasts of their old popular shows and movies.  Movies particularly have decent ratings even for repeat telecasts hence that could be an option for many tv channels if the issue persists.”

Balyan adds: “From a broadcasters’ perspective, they will have enough content bank to be able to sustain 2-3 weeks without disrupting the on-air programming. With smart programme scheduling they can easily sustain for 3-4 weeks. Also, one perspective to be observed is that the audience will consume more content leading to better viewership. Hence advertisers looking to build brand salience would like to explore this phase with better SOV.”

He expects advertisers in certain categories to push out or delay media activity. He says, “Also at the same time, certain categories like e-com may continue to invest as people are not looking for offline purchases. For a shorter time period channels may have to manage inventory. Also, I see some rationalisation of media mix to navigate the current challenges.”

“Planners and agencies are looking to evaluate impact on client’s business and would provide recommendations accordingly. As I said recommendation would be very category-specific,” he opines.

“As for advertisers and media planners, it would be advisable to evaluate if there is any drop in numbers in terms of viewership and work out their media plans accordingly,” says Thomas.

Havas Media Group CEO India and South East Asia Anita Nayyar says: “This will certainly affect everyone, be it companies, broadcasters, advertisers, ad agencies as it almost is a lockdown situation. Many organisations have announced work-from-home as well. The situation is scary and worrisome, for, if the consumer is contained everything related to him gets contained. Many have postponed important decisions on purchases which will lead to drop in sales leading to drop in advertising, which in turn will cause drop in spends and business for ad agencies, and hence for publishers and broadcasters.”

“Media planners need to look at more efficient and effective ways—digital and OTT being one of them. This will also lead to an increase in viewership at home given home is the new work destination,” said Nayyar.

On 15 March, in a joint meeting of Indian Motion Pictures Producers' Association (IMPPA)- Western India Film Producers' Association (WIPFA)- Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC)-Indian Film & Television Directors' Association (IFTDA)- Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) have taken a decision to stop shooting various Indian association bodies of television, directors and producers of films, TV serials and web series from 19 March 2020 till 31 March 2020.

Appreciating the move by the associations Thomas says, “I personally feel that it’s a great move by these associations and governing bodies to take a break from shootings where a lot of people’s lives could be at risk due to the widely spreading epidemic.  As we all know our lives are more important than anything else right?  So, it’s a fantastic initiative and a great endeavor to break-the-chain.”

Keeping in mind the health and safety of all concerned, ZEE will stop all shoots in the timelines stipulated in the directive. “In times where social distancing is the need of the hour to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 and people are spending more time indoors, the idea is to provide audiences with the most engaging entertainment for the entire family. Talks are still on to arrive at a strategy that ensures viewers have the best content to look forward to in the said period,” informed the broadcaster.

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