Counting on poll results: News channels eye big jump in ad revenues today

Top news channels have sold ad inventory at 10x to 15X of their normal advertising rates, say industry sources

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Mar 10, 2022 8:33 AM  | 5 min read

With the Election Commission all set to declare the results of assembly elections in five states today, news channels are eyeing a bumper ad revenue growth due to a likely spike in the viewership. Top news channels have sold ad inventory at 10x to 15X of their normal advertising rates.

According to industry sources, most news channels sell only half of their ad inventory to advertisers on the counting day since most of the airtime is devoted to content. The availability of less inventory, coupled with the expected increase in the viewership, allows news channels to charge a premium from advertisers. Brands don't mind spending a premium since it allows them to reach their consumers in an uncluttered environment, experts note.

"On counting day, the pricing for top five channels range anywhere between 10X to 15X of their base price. For example, if the base price of a leading news channel is Rs 5000 per 10 seconds on a normal day then that will go up to Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 per 10 seconds on the counting day. Channels that are not in the top five also charge 5X to 7X of their base price. If a channel is earning Rs 1 crore per day then that channel can earn a minimum of Rs 5 to 7 crore on a counting day," said the ad sales head of a leading TV news company.

He further stated that news channels offer fewer ad spots to advertisers on counting day but charge a premium for that particular inventory. "We sell 35-40 per cent inventory after the exit polls are announced. Most of the channels would have sold out 80-85 per cent of their inventory. The yield would be much higher for the inventory that we have sold. None of the big channels have compromised on their pricing," the executive said.

Even if the free commercial time (FCT) is not fully sold out, news channels are able to fully sell the non-FCT inventory like the L-band advertisement. The non-FCT inventory is priced higher than the FCT. "News channels, on an average, run 10,000-11,000 seconds of inventory on a counting day, whereas on a normal day, we do 20,000-21,000 seconds. Even if a channel is able to sell only 8,000 to 9,000 seconds on the counting day, they make up for that by offering L-band which is sold at a higher price. L-band fetches 25-30 per cent more than the FCT because it is played during the content or programme," the executive elaborated.

TV Today Network TV & Radio CEO Rahul Shaw said, "Elections always spark an uptick in the viewership and revenue base of our channels. The trust enjoyed by our channels does translate into substantial revenue upside driven by premium yields."

Patanjali Ayurved COO Media & Communications Anita Nayyar said that the advertisers will look at both TV and digital to engage with serious audiences on the counting day. "Election season is important for both channels and advertisers as news viewership will see a spike on the counting day. These elections are very significant, particularly the UP polls. News consumption will not just increase on TV but also digital. Advertisers will look at reaching audiences on both screens. A lot of people will be following the results on their mobile phones, so there is a lot of engagement that will happen there. While news channels are seeing a lot of consumption on digital, they have not been able to fully monetise that viewership."

Patanjali, she noted, is one of the most active advertisers in the news genre. "For us, counting day will not be any different as we advertise throughout the year on news channels."

The revenue head of another news network noted that FCT is sold at a huge premium on counting days since advertisers get to reach audiences in a non-cluttered environment. "We have seen good response from advertisers because for them the news audience is relevant. Categories that target male audiences like automobile, e-commerce, and retail are all there," the revenue head noted.

Generally, news channels don't run full inventory since the viewer engagement on the counting day is at an all-time high. "We don't run full inventory on counting days since a lot of action is happening. Since we run very finite inventory on counting days, we can price it at a premium. The non-FCT inventory is also sold at a premium. We have sold out our non-FCT inventory. We have sold a large chunk of the inventory but if we get good pricing, we will sell inventory on the counting day as well," the revenue head added.

The ad sales head of a Hindi news channel said certain news channels have gone for price cuts since the response from advertisers has not been as expected. "Barring a few top channels, most of the news channels have resorted to price cuts to sell their inventory. Had it not been for this underpricing by certain channels, the advertising growth on counting day would have been 25-30% more or even higher than that, particularly for an election in a state like UP. Top channels have sold the inventory at an average price of Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 whereas lower rung channels have sold their inventory at Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000," he stated.

The ad sales head added that a large chunk of the inventory is sold before the counting day while the remaining inventory is sold at the last minute depending on the demand. "Generally, a large chunk of the inventory is sold and only 7-8% inventory is left to be sold. For example, if we are selling 11,000 seconds of FCT on counting day then we end up selling at least 10,000 seconds of the inventory. Non-FCT inventory is sold at the same price or marginally higher compared to the FCT rate if it is an election day. However, if it is a polling day, the non-FCT rate is sold at a premium over the FCT rates." 

Rahul Shaw, CEO of TVTN Television and Radio, adds, “Elections always spark an uptick in the viewership and revenue base of our channels. The trust enjoyed by our channels does translate into substantial revenue upside, driven by premium yields.“

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube