Zee is becoming a part of advertisers' culture: Ashish Sehgal

Television will reach pre-covid2019 numbers by the end of this year

NEW DELHI: Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd has gone through turbulent times for the past 18 months but under the able leadership of CEO Punit Goenka it seems to have managed to win the market confidence despite the impact of Covid2019 pandemic on revenues and the new NTO orders of channel pricing. With the confidence of investors back and advertising slowly clawing it's way back, the network is looking to a better tomorrow. Its chief growth officer of advertisement revenue Ashish Sehgal sat down for a virtual fireside chat with founder CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari discussing the way ahead for the network and TV industry at large, on Tuesday evening. 

Sehgal claimed that television, as a medium of entertainment as well as advertising, has a lot of scope in the country. “The first fact is that the penetration of TV itself is only 67 per cent in this country and so we see a huge growth opportunity there. Secondly, the consumer still has this habit of watching videos on television.”

He added that TV was recording double-digit growth till 2018-19, a pretty handsome growth from the perspective of how TV ad volumes work. “It’s just in the last financial year, 2019-20 that the economy started to take a dive and then this pandemic happened. The loss was pretty hard on other mediums too but recovery is faster on TV.” 

Sehgal shared that the medium has already reached 70- 80 per cent of pre-Covid numbers and will match that by the end of this year. “FMCG, which is the mainstay for television contributing around 65 per cent of the overall ad revenues is coming back. And there is a lot of competition in that category, so I am expecting the other similar categories will also come back soon. Advertisers have realised that as the economy opens up they should start promoting themselves.”

He insisted that television has a bright future and the industry will pick up on a month-on-month basis from here on. 

Sehgal said while he will not compare it to the last year numbers, in comparison to how the previous 3-4 months went, they had a good run during Ganpati and Onam. 

He elaborated, “The sentiment is coming back. For example, I stay in Delhi and when you go out, you can see the traffic jams happening again and people are visiting markets. People have started venturing out. They are understanding that while they should be careful, they can’t be staying in the fear of the virus forever.” 

According to him a number of channels have already started consolidating. During Onam, the Malayalam language channel Zee Keralam locked in numbers similar to last year and also maintained a steady viewership. The network’s Bhojpuri channels are market leaders and doing great in the Telugu market too. He is also expecting IPL to be a good time for his channels as well as the whole medium. 

However, despite high viewership and ad volumes, one problem that still remains with TV as a medium of advertising is the cheap ad rates and the negotiations that are made on the advertisers’ part.

Sehgal quipped, “Television is still the cheapest medium to advertise and which is why it is also the preferred medium for advertising. It is also because advertisers are still paying on CPR basis but if you look at BARC ratings, it is (not) representing a very large population. A lot of genres, like English, are not very well represented by these ratings. Digital is monitoring each and every impression and TV is not doing that.”

To counter this, Zee has been working on newer approaches to help clients. Rather than just providing a medium to advertise, they are providing them solutions catering to their specific needs. 

“We don’t have an approach of selling on our network any more. We are working with them to extend solutions helping them generate good ROI. We are working more like consultants to them. Be it curating special ads as we did for Cadbury where they wanted to thank all Covid2019 warriors or using our characters as influencers for their products, we are assisting them with a tactical understanding of their brands and TG.”

He added that each advertiser has its own culture and if a media partner starts becoming a part of that culture and not work on a transactional basis, it will retain the client for a long time. 

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