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Advertisers target rural north & south zone on serials & film-based content: BARC

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MUMBAI: None realised the importance of rural market until BARC India started monitoring viewing habits in the countryside. After the TV audience measurement system gave its ratings, the industry woke up to the potential of this market.

A recent newsletter released by BARC India emphasises on the viewing habits of the viewers on different fronts.

From one front,  this research explores the advertisers and marketers targeting north and south zone on serials and film-based content to reach their respective audience.

On an overall level for rural India, serial-based programmes secure the highest share, followed by film-based programmes. This pattern is consistent across zones with the exception of south India. Viewership for serials is driven majorly by the north zone while film-based programmes have maximum viewership in the south zone, which does not come as a surprise.

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Most of the programme themes are driven by south zone. The only exception is music which is driven almost entirely by the north zone. For broadcasters in the serials and music genre, north rural market is the key.

For advertisers and marketers targeting north and south zone, serials and film-based content will be the ‘Holy Grail’ to reach their audience respectively as over 30 per cent of the viewership is attributed to each of these content types across zones.

For marketers targeting west or east zone, frequency-based plans yield results easily. On the other hand, for those targeting north, reach-based plans may be more achievable.

On an overall level, the south zone registers the highest reach and ATS ( Average Time Spent) among the four zones in rural market. Looking at the west zone, ATS is the second highest after south zone. However, it has relatively lower reach. This shows that audience in the western rural market has lower reach but they spend a high amount of time consuming television content. Conversely, the north zone has the lowest ATS but has a comparatively better reach. One can infer that audience in the north zone does not stick to television viewing for as long as those in other zones.

The rural viewership pattern

Urban and rural India follow distinctly different viewing patterns across the day. Rural India starts its day much earlier than urban India around 5am, and continues to have higher viewership until 9am.

Post 9am, urban India's viewership catches up and has higher viewership than the rural India throughout the afternoon and evening. Both, urban and rural India see a marginal peak during 2-230pm. However, rural India sees an early spike for prime time as compared to urban India. The highest viewership in rural India is generated during the time-band 830-9pm followed by the time-band 8-830pm.

Viewership starts declining around 1030pm hinting at an early wrap-up for the day for the rural audience.

If one compares all the four zones in the rural market, it seems like the viewership is driven by southern rural market followed by the west zone. The lowest viewership in rural market can be observed in the north zone which has the lowest average rating percentage for the entire day.

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If one looks at the zone-wise viewership, both weekdays and weekends are driven by the south zone followed by west zone. Overall viewership for weekends is marginally higher than weekdays for rural India. At the zone level, this increase for weekend viewership is the maximum for the west zone and the least for the east zone.

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Viewership differs during prime time

Millennials in rural India could be the next big target for broadcasters and advertisers to hold on to.

Viewership in India during prime time is equally divided among both the genders. However, if compared by the four zones, north and west zone have a higher percentage of male viewers (51 per cent  and 52 per cent, respectively) and Millennials (age-group 15-30) form the largest percentage of audience in rural India. The pattern is the same among all the four zones with the exception of south where Gen X (age group 31-50) forms the largest percentage of the audience.

NCCS C (New Consumer Classification System) has the highest share of viewership among all zones in rural India. While the west zone and the east zone display a composition similar to rural India, the north zone and south zone have some variations. The north zone has a substantially higher composition of NCCS A & NCCS B, while the contribution of NCCS C is lower than the rural India average. Conversely, in the south zone, the contribution of NCCS A is low.

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Surprisingly, film-based programmes, which have the maximum reach during prime time, have one of the lowest stickiness across rural India for all the four zones. Game/talk/quiz and lifestyle-based programmes can hold the audience for long as they have a healthy ratio for reach to fidelity. In rural India, stickiness for serial-based programs is the highest across programme themes.

Surprisingly, it is driven mostly by south zone, which had the lowest reach among all zones for this content. Interestingly, if one compares this to the audience composition analysed above, north zone and west zone, which have a higher percentage of male audience, also see higher stickiness for sports programmes. Lifestyle-based content in terms of stickiness has much better ratio of reach to fidelity across zones.

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Ad sector popularity

The top ad sectors by viewership during prime time in rural India are personal care/hygiene, food & beverages, hair care and services etc.

Personal care/hygiene and hair care sector have a higher share in the north zone. This can also be seen while comparing all the zones for the ‘personal healthcare’ category, where again the north zone takes the lead.

On the other hand, the south zone is more inclined towards categories such as food and beverages, auto, durables and personal accessories.

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Switching pattern for GEC & movie genre

Since most of the TV viewership is generated by GEC and the movie genre, it would be interesting to understand the switching pattern of rural India on a day-part level.

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As observed in the paragraphs above, throughout the day, most of the switching to or from a channel genre happens due to audience switching the TV on or not. However, it declines during the later time-bands. The only exception is 6pm to 12 midnight where switching between movies and GEC is higher than viewers switching TV on during that time-band (with movies as reference). On comparing switching from movies to GEC genre, switching percentage remains almost comparable throughout the day.

On the other hand, switching from GEC to movies declines during later time-bands. On an overall level, switching from GEC to movies is seen more often that the switching from movies to GEC.

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