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GEC, regional channels' viewership to dip further this year due to IPL, Elections

Regional segment could observe 8-12 per cent decline in viewership

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MUMBAI: This summer, India is set to witness two major events, the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the much awaited General Elections, clash for votes and viewership. For the broadcast industry, those with general entertainment channels (GECs) are likely to see even further dip in eyeballs because of this.

With Star India introducing several regional feeds for its first edition of IPL last year, the regional channels also saw a slight change. As per reports, viewership share of regional language telecast was reported to be 23 per cent followed by English with 22 per cent and Hindi dominating with 55 per cent.

IPL telecast has also shown significant impact on viewing habits for other genres. While mapping viewership of various genres during IPL and non-IPL weeks, it was found that the share of the GEC genre declined marginally in all 3 years under review (2016-18), as viewers tuned in to IPL matches during primetime.

According to Viacom18 Hindi mass entertainment and kids TV network head Nina Elavia Jaipuria, these events, no doubt, work well with audiences but that doesn’t mean that people stop watching GECs. She said, “What happens in any country when there is large mass viewership, there is one television, and the viewership time gets divided. But like I told you that the power of content is so much that there is no viewer who is going to stay without television for two months and without their characters. It’s the eleventh IPL and Hindi GECs have always done well. It is not that people stop watching GECs. So to my mind, there will be some division of time and little more time given to different genres of channels. But people will not stop watching their favourite shows and characters.” She is confident that Viacom18 has a very strong line up and there’s no reason that it will be losing viewership on the channels.

Zee TV business head Aparna Bhosle claimed that Zee saw growth during IPL last year. She added that when the content offering is strong, viewership invariably grows. Media planners spoke to Indiantelevision.com and said that the loss of viewership will be little more than the previous year. On the contrary, while reports suggested that regional channels are expected to grow double digits, this year regional broadcasters felt that there could be a decrease.

Fakt Marathi Enterr10 MD Shirish Pattanshetty said that it wouldn’t be the case with Hindi GECs as against regional channels. “Trend shows that regional could see 8 to 12 per cent decline,” he said.

According to Dishum Broadcasting COO Partha Dey, the viewership on news and sports genre will definitely be high but rooted entertainment and spike programming on regional channels will cushion much of the impact.

Talking about the growth of viewership on television, the impressions for IPL 2018 witnessed a growth of 41 per cent over the 2016 season and 16 per cent over the 2017 season. Even the average time spent went from 28 minutes in 2016 to 34 minutes in 2018. 

Stratagem Media founder-director Sundeep Nagpal said that the loss of viewership can be expected to be a little more pronounced this year. Moreover, Carat Media SVP Mayank Bhatnagar explained that IPL viewership has been growing year-on-year. He added, “In 2018, GEC and movies genres’ viewership drop was 3-5 per cent. This year, there are back-to-back cricket events with IPL first and then the World Cup. So it’s imperative to have counter strategies to mitigate the risk.”

As far as ad rates are concerned Pattanshetty said that overall it is likely to increase due to the mega events and regional especially may see double-digit growth.

With the new TRAI tariff regime also set, there is likely to be fluctuations in the viewership pattern as well. The industry is giving time for viewership patterns to stabilise and is likely to see it happen before these events take place. 

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