Television

Viewership dynamics changing in Unlock 1.0? Hindi GEC viewership grows on DD Free Dish?

Top 10 Hindi GECs’ gain was led by rural India and free platform

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BENGALURU: Television consumption decreased slightly (reduced 0.6 percent) in Week 23 of 2020 (Saturday, 6 June 2020 to Friday, 12 June 2020) to 16.3 billion weekly impressions as compared to the previous week which had scored 16.4 billion weekly impressions according to Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) weekly data. BARC had reported viewership of 16.3 billion impressions for week 21 of 2020. This number is still 12.4 percent higher than the viewership of 14.5 billion impressions reported for week four of 2020.

BARC and Nielsen have set the average viewership data between weeks two and four of 2020 as the yardstick to measure television consumption trends during Covid2019 weeks. While the lockdown in India commenced on 25 March 2020, which was midweek of week 12 of 2020, BARC-Nielsen Covid2019 reports are available for weeks between weeks 11 and 18 of 2020 at the time of writing of this paper. The author has considered week four of 2020 as the reference week here.

GECs have shown growth in viewership. Is it because a number of them, more so Hindi GECs and movies channels, have returned to DD Free Dish’s fold? Quite likely.

This paper must be read with caveats. The conclusions are based on BARC weekly data in the public domain which comprises of the combined weekly impressions of the top two, three, five or 10 channels of each genre/sub-genre/platform or across genres.  The author has used the combined weekly impressions of the Top ten, five, three or two channels of the genre sub/genre during different weeks for comparison and the conclusions in this paper are limited to that extent. Further, the channels listed in BARC’s weekly lists needn’t be the same week-on-week. The comparison of combined weekly for all the weeks mentioned in this paper is meant for genre/sub-genre/platform comparison, not any individual channel (if named anywhere in this paper). In some cases, viewership in terms of combined weekly impressions of the week under review and week four is not comparable because the number of channels in BARC’s weekly lists of the respective genres/sub-genres/platforms during the two periods were not same. Probably BARC watermarks were provided for some of the channels after week four of 2020.

For Hindi GECs, BARC provides data for the Top 10 Hindi GECs in a combination  of the urban and rural Hindi speaking markets or HSM (U+R) on all platforms; HSM (U+R) on the pay platform; HSM (U+R) on the free platform; HSM (R) on all platforms; and on HSM (U) on all platforms. It also provides data for Hindi movies in these five segmentations. It must be noted that as per BARC, HSM includes the All India market minus the south Indian markets of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 

In the case of regional channels, BARC provides data for the top five Assamese, Bangla, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi channels as also for the four south Indian languages – Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. Many of the channels included in the respective lists of top five regional channels are from mixed genres – these could be news, music, movies, infotainment and spiritual channels. In many of the cases, it is often the news segment/programme of the GEC that is amongst BARC’s weekly list of top five programmes which is probably one of the reasons why a channel landed up in BARC’s top five channels list for that language in the first place. However, BARC’s top five lists of languages such as Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Assamese, Bangla and Marathi have a channel mix that consists mainly of GECs and movies that run mainly GEC and/or movies content. 

In the pre-Covid2019 weeks, four genres had 89 percent of television viewership share – in terms of size, they are GEC, movies, news and the kids genres.  The viewership share of these genres grew to 93 percent in week 18 of 2020 as per the 8th edition of the BARC-Nielsen report for week 18 of 2020. Please refer to the figure below:

Overall, GEC had 52 percent viewership share in the pre-Covid2019 lockdown weeks. In the absence of fresh content, as well as stiff competition from news and movies channels, GEC viewership share declined to about 40 percent of total television consumption in week 13 of 2020 when there was huge growth in overall television consumption due to the various phases of the lockdowns in India. Considering the larger television consumption, more people preferred watching the news and movies genres, as well as the kids genre. Many GECs run movies on a regular schedule. Post the first few weeks of the Covid2019 lockdown, when the movies genre showed viewership growth, many GECs, more so in south India, started airing movies, and most still continue to do so. This helped perk up the viewership of GECs to grow.

The Hindi GEC genre has a large combined viewership as compared to the all the other languages. BARC’s weekly lists of the top 10 Hindi GECs' growth was led by the HSM (R) market and the free platform in week 23 of 2020 as compared to week 21. Also, a number of second rung Hindi GECs and movie channels returned to DD Free Dish in June 2020. The reach and television consumption on the government’s free DTH service has brought back channels such as Sony Pal, Star Utsav, Colors Rishtey an Rishtey Cineplus back into BARC’s weekly lists of top five or 10 channels in their respective genres and across genres lists.

The combined viewership of the top 10 Hindi GECs on All Platforms grew 4.1 percent in week 23 of 2020 as compared to the previous week. Consumption of the Top 10 Hindi GECs in the urban Hindi Speaking Market or HSM (U) in week 23 of 2020 was almost flat as compared to the previous week. Consumption of the Top 10 Hindi GECs in HSM (U) grew just 0.8 percent as against the 10.9 percent growth in the rural hindi speaking market or HSM (R) in the period under review as compared to the previous week. Consumption of the Top 10 Hindi GECs on the free platform grew 21.1 percent in Week 23 of 2020 as compared to the Week 22. TV consumption of the top 10 Hindi GECs on the pay platform grew 1.5 percent in week under review as compared to the previous week. 

Viewership growth was witnessed by the top five Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam and Bangla channels. Except for Tamil, the other three witnessed viewership growth in at lest three of the top 5 channels. In the case of Tamil, the Sun Tv Network’s flagship Tamil GEC Sun TV had major growth in Week 23 of 2020, with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd's Tamil flagship channel Zee Tamil showing a small amount of growth as compared to week 22. The other three channels in BARC’s weekly list of top five Tamil channels showed decline in viewership in terms of weekly impressions in week 23 of 2020 as compared to the previous week.

Another indicator that Hindi GECs could have grown is BARC’s weekly lists of top 10 channels across genres – BARC has segmented across genres to the top 10 channels across genres on all platforms, on the pay platform and the free platform. Though the combined weekly impressions of the top 10 channels across genres on all platforms in week 23 of 2020 were almost the same (grew 0.3 percent) as compared to the previous week, a Hindi GEC replaced a Telugu channel in the weekly list during the week under review. Though the combined weekly impressions of BARC's weekly list of top 10 channels on the free platform in week 23 of 2020 declined 1.4 percent as compared to the previous week, two Hindi GECs entered the list at the cost of a Hindi movies and Bhojpuri channels. One more Hindi GEC that entered the free platform across genres list replaced another Hindi GEC. 

The Hindi movies genre showed flat growth (combined weekly impressions of top 5 movies channels on all platforms de-grew by 0.7 percent) in week 23 of 2020 as compared to week 21. Combined weekly impressions of top 5 Hindi movies channels in HSM (U) was flat, while those in HSM (R) saw a growth of 1.9 percent in week 23 of 2020 as compared to the previous week. Combined weekly impressions of the top 5 Hindi movies on the free platform grew 6.3 percent, while on the pay platform they grew by 0.2 percent (almost flat growth).

Further, unlike the previous weeks, news channels lost viewership if BARC’s weekly data for Top 5 Assamese, Bangla, Hindi, English, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu News channels for week 23 of 2020 is considered. The Top 5 Kannada news channels seems to be the only news genre that has bucked the trend, combined viewership of the Top 5 Kannada channels grew by a phenomenal 48.7 percent in week 23 of 2020 as compared to the previous week. In is worth noting that three of the Top 5 Tamil programmes in week 23 of 2020 were Tamil films on Sun TV, the other two were non-film GEC shows.

Another major genre-the kids genre has shown growth, going by BARC data of the top 5 kids channels for weeks 23 and 22 of 2020 – week 23 of 2020 saw weekly impressions of top 5 kids channels grow by four percent as compared to the previous week. The combine weekly impressions of top five channels of the other genres which saw growth during the week under review as compared to the previous week were music (7.7 percent growth); English entertainment (21.2 percent growth); sports (5.7 percent growth) and infotainment (1.2 percent growth). The overall viewership share of these genres is in single digits percentage.

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