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Is dip in TV viewership impacting the sheen of non-fiction shows?

According to some industry experts, if the consumer shift to digital platforms continues then broadcasters may face challenges while getting the right value for non-fiction shows

by Sonam Saini
Published - Jan 21, 2022 8:47 AM Updated- Jan 21, 2022 9:09 AM  |  5 min read

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2021 saw Hindi General Entertainment Channels (GECs) launch shows in new formats, and the new seasons of existing tentpole properties in the non-fiction category. However, the new launches and marquee shows like KBC and Bigg Boss failed to garner positive ratings, according to industry experts.  

Media planners say it is the non-fiction category that has witnessed a drop in viewership on television. Some media reports have stated that the shows like KBC and Bigg Boss have not even recovered the drop they saw in 2020.

"We are seeing a drop in viewership of reality shows. If we talk about the absolute numbers, for instance, The Kapil Sharma Show, which used to rate between 2-3 on the TRP list, is now rated below 2," shared a media buyer on the condition of anonymity.

According to media experts, the primary reason for a decline in TV viewership is the consumer shift to digital platforms. However, if the trend continues broadcasters are likely to face challenges while getting the right value for the shows, they caution.

"Consumers are shifting from traditional TV viewing to smart viewing for the same and newer content provided by OTT platforms. Hence, there is a 49 per cent rise in OTT revenue from subscriptions compared to last year. The decline in TV viewership will affect the bargaining power of non-fictional shows," said media expert Anil Solanki.

Last year, we saw some new formats in the category like Shark Tank on Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and The Big Picture on Colors TV. According to media planners and industry experts, both the shows failed to garner positive ratings on television. However, they feel the shows could have done well on digital platforms.

Sharing more insights on the viewership pattern, an industry observer said, "There is fragmentation, and there is no doubt about it. Also, many people are now watching the same content on different screens at their convenience. This is why we are seeing a decline in TV viewership."

Talking about rates, the industry expert said if the shows on TV are not going to deliver high viewership, it will directly impact the rates. Another media planner, on the condition of anonymity, further said: "There will be an impact if the show cannot sustain the viewership. However, the channel compensates advertisers for the ratings promised somewhere else or for some other channel or show in the form of bonus inventory."

Talking about the possible way forward, the senior industry professional said, "It's high time that television should also move to Cost-Per-Thousand (CPT) or Cost Per Thousand impressions (CPM). TVR doesn't mean anything now."

In 2021, we also saw a trend where channels experimented with shows by launching them first on OTT. Viacom18, for the first time, launched Bigg Boss on OTT, later Disney-Star also launched its dance reality show on Disney+ Hotstar before TV. These trends indicate that there are eyeballs for non-fiction shows on OTT.

According to Karan Taurani, SVP, Elara Capital, there is no surprise that many non-fiction properties are seeing a decline, primarily due to the shift to digital. "Firstly, there is a loss of viewership, which is a problem. Secondly, the incremental viewership growth rate has converged for the non-fiction properties because TV itself as a medium has not been able to grow more than 3-4% in terms of growth in the number of viewers."

He further noted the consumption trends that emerged post Covid-19 have also changed audience behaviour towards television shows. TV is not seeing too many big non-fiction properties being launched, Taurani pointed out. "It's the existing properties that are coming up with the new season. Lack of innovation or experimentation is also pushing viewers away."

Talking about revenues, Taurani shared that the pricing is trending lower than what it was before the pandemic. "We have seen the pricing of these large properties has not been able to come back on track as compared to the pre-Covid levels. The inventory has come back, but the pricing is still a challenge."

Sharing more perspective on the revenue angle, another industry expert said that even though the viewership of non-fiction shows is declining, the revenue is being compensated via OTT. "Revenues are getting generated from OTT platforms for some of these marquee properties. This would have compensated for the loss in revenue that is happening on TV."

Talking about consumer habits, Ranjeet Thakur, Co-Founder of Frames Production & Producer of shows like Super Dancer, India's Best Dancer, and the upcoming show Hunaarbaaz on Colors TV said: "There is a decline in viewership of non-fiction shows, and numbers are there to prove that. I believe it's happening because people have started moving out on weekends post the lockdown. Secondly, people have more options to watch content as per demand."

Thakur also mentioned that there was a need to check OTT viewership to know how the shows have been performing. "TV is not the only medium where people are watching shows. It is also important to know how the show fared on the digital platforms."

Thakur launched a new season of Dance Plus, first on Disney+ Hotstar and then on TV - Star Plus. "The show did well both on digital and TV with regards to money and viewership." He further noted that this trend is likely to be the future where “you can sell the IP of the show to the channel and the digital platform”.

 

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