Media during times of COVID-19: Amol Dighe

Guest Column: Amol Dighe, CEO, Madison Media Ultra & Head Investments, says the COVID-19 crisis has brought about significant change to the entire media industry

e4m by Amol Dighe
Updated: Apr 29, 2020 9:26 AM
Amol Dighe Madison Media Ultra

The impact on advertising has been dramatic, but it was expected. There has been a significant change in the entire Media industry. India too has followed the global pattern where TV viewership and time spent watching the medium has gone up dramatically, so has the consumption of content on Digital. This is natural in a lockdown as consumers have more time on hand now. However, as companies grapple with supply chain and labour issues due to the lockdown, advertising has slowed down considerably. While sales of discretionary items have almost stopped, only a very few categories of advertisers continue to spend on media.

The impact on media and how advertisers are looking at it

We’re all aware that time spent on TV, Reach and no. of individuals has gone up significantly. Within TV, there has been a huge surge of viewership on the News, Movies and Kids genre. This didn’t come as a surprise as the GEC genre was hit due to the lockdown in terms of Original content and they resorted to telecasting repeat content, which led to viewers shifting to other genres. non-prime time viewership also saw a huge growth due to the lockdown. The growth in numbers has set a never seen before the record. TV consumption in megacities like Mumbai and Delhi grew considerably. Moreover, there was a surge in viewership in the younger age groups of 15-21 as well, due to the lockdown.

But what’s more important is that in spite of repeat programming, GECs continued to be the lead genre. The impact on advertising was severe. FCT on TV dropped significantly post Covid, while Social Advertising grew significantly. The Print industry was also hit badly due to lack in demand, distribution issues in metros, etc.

The significant change in TV post-COVID

We were pleasantly surprised with the Response received on DD. The decision to air mythological series such as Ramayan, Mahabharat and the comeback of vintage DD programs was a masterstroke. The numbers garnered created record ratings on DD, which led to a huge demand for Advertising on these shows. Suddenly, Mythos became the main source of entertainment on GEC. This was beyond anybody’s expectations.

Changes in terms of spends

Well, naturally the shift in viewership to News and Movies has led to good demand on these genres. While GEC continued to be the lead genre, there were significant shifts of spend on News and Movies. The resurgence of DD also lead to more spend on the Govt. owned channels.

I believe that GEC will continue to face a big challenge for the next few weeks, but that will depend on when the lockdown ends for fresh programming to start. Until then, News and Movies will continue to get a greater share of spends compared to the Pre-COVID period.

Will this be a long term trend?

I don’t think so. There might be a lag effect with consumers getting used to a specific viewing pattern, but with original programming back on the air, consumers will shift to their earlier viewing patterns. The interesting thing to watch out for is that Programming Genres on TV might see a slight change due to the consumer habit change.eg: Mythology

Advertising budgets for this year

I certainly see a slow down even after the lockdown ends as supply chain and labour issues will take time to return to normal. Also, the revival of consumer demand will be a challenge and hence advertising spends could be slow. While there will be certain improvements as things stabilise after Covid in terms of spends, normalcy looks difficult. Advertisers could use this as an opportunity to get more value and efficiency from the market until this situation exists.

(Amol Dighe is CEO, Madison Media Ultra & Head Investments)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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