The recent spat between broadcasters and advertisers in the gross billings versus net billings issue led to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) sending out a diktat to broadcasters, vide a notice dated April 30, 2013, asking them not to run any ads that are based on gross amount ROs received from agencies.
Resultantly, major broadcasters, including STAR India, ZEE, MSM, NDTV and others, had stopped airing commercials associated with gross billings. Some of the major brands that were impacted by this ad blackout included Samsung, LG Electronics, and Sony, among others.
Viewers got to watch their favourite programmes uninterrupted by ads for the two days that the blackout lasted – on May 1 and 2. While the general perception is that no commercial breaks lead to a higher viewership, this was not the case during the ad blackout period. All the leading shows have recorded either poor or below average ratings for this period.
Talking to exchange4media, Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India remarked, “There is no correlation between ads running and viewers watching television. If a person likes the content he/she will watch it anyhow, no matter if there is any interruption.”
At the same time he agreed that viewership will increase in case no ads facility is made available to the consumer. “The time spent will increase in one go,” he added.
When asked whether it is okay if advertisers decide on their media plan on the basis of TRPs, Gupta replied, “TAM is only covering the metros and non-metros of the country, but a large number of audiences are present in rural areas. They are only covering 40 per cent of the viewers out of 100 per cent.”
He also pointed out, “Advertisers should look at both the parameters – ratings and brand credibility – before deciding on where to advertise. They should insist on reach, timing and the number of people.”
Ratings of a few channels for the period May 1 and May 2, 2013:
It may be recalled that the two days of ad blackout had cost the broadcasting fraternity approximately Rs 60 crore. However, experts believe that this loss can be compensated over a period of time.