GECs face major drop in ad revenues after pulling out from DD Free Dish

Channels that were earlier free to air charged advertisers anywhere between Rs 4000/10 secs and Rs 5500/10 secs. But the rates have now reduced to Rs 3000/10 secs, say industry experts

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jul 10, 2019 8:52 AM

Ever wondered why Dangal TV is the most watched Hindi language channel in U+R category since Week 13 of BARC television ratings this year? Well, it is mostly because all top broadcasters, including the likes of Zee Entertainment, Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India and Viacom 18, opted out of DD Free Dish in February this year. But having lost over 20 million viewership that DD Free Dish offers, several channels have taken a mega hit in their ad revenues.

According to estimates by industry experts, the channels that were earlier free to air used to charge advertisers anywhere between Rs 4000/10 seconds and Rs 5500/10 seconds basis the huge viewership that DD Free Dish offered from a demography that comprised both urban and rural population. The ad rates, according to estimates, have reduced to as low as Rs 3000/10 seconds as the channels have been failing to deliver CPRP (Cost Per Rating Point).

“For most of the channels that shifted to being pay channels from being on DD Free Dish, the operating Gross Rating Point (GRP) per week reduced. And once the GRP fell, they couldn’t ask for the same ad rates that they demanded six months back,” says Sudhir Kumar, Director-Offline Media, DCMN India.

It is said that private broadcasters, while paying an average of about Rs 6-8 crore per annum to DD-Free Dish, were earning Rs 500-700 crore per annum. The revenues from the same channel is now said to have hit below the Rs 200 crore mark.

Coming to loss of revenue suffered by broadcasters as they pulled out their Hindi Mass Entertainment channels from DD Free Dish post the TRAI's NTO came into effect, Zee Media Corporation Limited reported consolidated revenues of Rs 1,693.50 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 and Rs 6,869.2 million for the entire 2018-19. 

The operating revenue in FY19 grew by 19.8% to Rs 6,869.20 million from Rs 5,734.8 million in FY18. However, in Q4 of FY19, the operating revenue declined by 3.9% to Rs 1,693.5 million from Rs 1,762.2 million in Q4FY18. The revenue decline, the broadcaster said, was mainly due to hold back of spends by advertisers across the industry in the first half of the quarter in view of TRAI’s New Tariff Order implementation. 

Zee, however, is not an isolated example. There are lot of others who lost on revenues in the process.

So, what do advertisers feel about the move though? Alongside withdrawing ads from these once free to air channels, brands seem to have found other avenues of investments.

Bashab Sarkar, Senior VP-Media, Emami, says this was a boon for advertisers such as Emami that have a rural focus. “The news channels, particularly Hindi ones, came into focus grabbing eyeballs with elections and other major developments around the country, thereby boosting their advertising revenues,” reasons Sarkar.

Whether the trend is here to stay or not is however not clear at the moment. Experts say the losses faced were inevitable, but this doesn’t set a trend.

“If we look at the channels that pulled out of DD Free Dish, we would know that it comes from the four big giants in the industry who have a bouquet of channels under their umbrella. While they lose from one, they can make up from another. The loss is short term, but in the long run, it will work out well for both the broadcasters and the DTH providers,” says Manav Dhanda, Group CEO, Sab Group.

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