How being on DD Free Dish impacts broadcasters’ topline

Coming back on FTA makes sense for broadcasters who are looking at getting the advertisers back. FTA is an attractive platform for the advertiser because of its affordable rates

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jun 12, 2020 9:39 AM
DD Free Dish

DD Free Dish undoubtedly has a huge reach, but that isn’t the only bait for broadcasters to be on the platform. For all the big four broadcasters who were allotted MPEG-2 slots of DD Free Dish recently, the platform is also an economically viable option to maximise reach and improve toplines at minimal costs.
Since for the big four networks--Zee Entertainment, Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India and Viacom18-- that pulled out from the FTA (free to air) platform in February 2019, only running catch-up channels on DD Free dish guarantee greater ROI on investments.
“Repackaging costs and carriage fees are the only investments made by the broadcasters to air on DD free dish since the content aired on these channels are sourced from the main channels. An investment of Rs 25-30 crore approximately brought the broadcasters revenues to the tune of Rs 300 crore in their hay days. The existing economic slump added to the losses incurred by pulling out from the FTA platform hit the broadcasters hard,” said Partho Dasgupta, management consultant and ex-CEO, BARC India.
According to FICCI-EY 2020 forecast, approximately Rs 10 billion of advertising was pulled out from Free Dish when leading broadcasters removed their catch-up television channels from Free Dish. The report also said that regional channels grew ad volumes by 4 pr cent while national channels witnessed a 6 per cent fall in ad volumes, led by some popular channels being taken off from DD FreeDish.
No wonder GECs faced major drop revenues after pulling out from DD Free Dish. For instance, when Zee reported their 2019 Q4 numbers their operating revenue declined by 3.9% to Rs 1,693.5 million from Rs 1,762.2 million in Q4FY18.
As it turns out, drop in ad rates also led to poor toplines reported by broadcasters. Industry estimates suggest that channels that were earlier free to air used to charge advertisers anywhere between Rs 4000/10 seconds and Rs 5500/10 seconds on the basis of the huge viewership. Post pulling out from DD Free Dish, the ad rates fell by 25%-30% touching close to Rs 3000/10 seconds as the channels failed to deliver CPRP (Cost Per Rating Point).
Coming back on FTA makes sense for broadcasters who are looking at getting the advertisers back. FTA is an attractive platform for the advertiser because of its affordable rates.
“The ad rates are lower than the pay platform, as pay channels primarily started getting evaluated only on Urban TG while FTA channels are evaluated on U+R markets. FTA is an attractive platform for advertisers as it is a CPRP deflator in plans and also adds and caters to a unique market where pay channels are not available,” said Deep Drona,Chief Operating Officer at Enterr10 Television Pvt Ltd known for their popular channel Dangal on DD Free Dish.
“ROI on FTA is way better than other platforms because its viewership is larger and gives desirable rating on the basis of which advertisers decide ads rate for a channel,” said Ajit Joshi founder at Swami Films Entertainment. Joshi is also a FTA broadcaster. 
According to Drona, the big four coming back on the platform will make the genre (Hindi GEC) bigger and attract more investments.
The comeback on DD Free Dish is expected to balance out on the lost revenue. “At a time when ad revenues are tough to come by and subscription income is staggered due to logistical issues in the wake of the pandemic, being back on DD Freedish is a smart move by broadcasters. It is almost like launching a lower variant of the main product that is inexpensive and thus high on demand,” added Dasgupta.

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