Backed by festivities, did news channels witness a surge in ad revenue?

As per the TAM data, ad volume of Hindi news channels grew by 1% whereas English news channels witnessed a drop of 8% compared to Hindi and other regional news channels

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Nov 25, 2021 9:15 AM  | 7 min read
news channels

Several factors like the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and a surge in vaccination drive across the country uplifted the festive spending. These factors led to positive sentiments among the marketers. Backed by festivities, the broadcast industry witnessed strong growth across genres. However, according to the TAM data for Sep-Nov’2021 (data for November period is till 10th) versus the same period last year, a meagre 2% drop was witnessed in advertising in the news genre. 

Experts are of the opinion that there might be a marginal dip in the ad volume as compared with 2020. However, the number grew substantially when compared with 2019. Additionally, the experts asserted that the genre could have performed better given the fact this festive period demand was at its highest in the last five years.

Mona Jain, CRO, ABP Network, noted, “The festive period this year lasted longer than usual, which helped the news genre perform better than pre-Covid period. This year’s revenue was unquestionably superior to both 2019 and 2020, as we performed well in terms of ad earnings.” Jain further added that advertiser spending was up from pre-Covid levels. “Moreover, our reach and income were on a rise throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as well" she stated. 

Adding to the above statement, Gaurav Dhawan, EVP - Revenue, Times Network expressed that the festive season has significantly boosted the media industry and resulted in a 12-15% growth in advertising. However, Dhawan feels that there has been an increase in uptake of ad inventory but the spending is yet to cross the pre- Covid level. “With the opening of malls & shops with extended business hours, travels, exuberant rates of stock markets, BFSI uptake, trave, etc., several brands have leveraged this opportunity during the festive times. While there has been a substantial increase in the uptake of ad inventory, the ad spends are yet to catch up with that of the pre-Covid era. With the upcoming big, ticketed news events such as Union Budget, State Elections, etc., we expect a surge in the ad spends in the next 2-3 months,” added Dhawan. 

Moreover, if we look at the ad volume index growth based on language, Hindi news channels grew by 1% whereas English News Channels witnessed a bigger drop compared to Hindi and other regional news channels, seeing a decline of about 8% during the festive period of 2021 over the same period of 2020. 

Jain believes that that news as a genre has specifically grown in categories such as FMCG, which is now seeing the impact, ROI, and response the genre generates for brands. Other categories such as healthcare, personal care, education, and e-commerce are also buying strategically and increasing their spending on news. “With elections coming in five key states, the news genre will command a larger audience, drawing a bigger share of spending in a variety of categories, including emerging categories and the existing ones like automobiles, consumer durables and retail", she noted.

For the 2022 assembly elections, ABP has launched ten new programmes. “In addition, we are maintaining an election tracker called the ABP C-Voter Survey. As a result of all of this, I feel we are in a good position to leverage advertisers,” said Jain. 

Speaking on English news channels' growth, Dhawan said that while the English news genre has shown marginal degrowth, both Times Now and Times Now World have held on to ad volumes and seen significant growth of revenue on branded solutions and flagship events like Times Now Summit, Leaders of Tomorrow. The Hindi news channels grew marginally at 1%, on the back of new advertisers from the MSME sector, informed Dhawan. 

The TAM report also reported that among the top five categories, Retail Outlets - Jewellers dominates the list during the festive period of  2021 compared to cars in the same period in 2020. The total three categories were common among the top five list of festive period of both the years i.e. 2020 and  2021. Meanwhile, four out of the top five advertisers were common during the festive period of both the years 2020 and 2021. Reckitt and HUL maintained their top ranking during the festive period of 2021 and  2020.

“Categories including Food and Beverages, Personal Care and Education have increased their spending,” said Jain. She further explained at the same time, the news genre continued to add newer categories. “This year, we witnessed some crossover between cricket and news advertisers, but it had minimal influence on us. New sectors, such as gaming and bitcoins, jumped on the cricket bandwagon to make rapid waves. However, they advertised on the news genre only for the sake of frequency, not for strategic reasons. As a result, we were unaffected. Rather, start-ups increased their spending on news.”

When it comes to ABP Network channels, Jain shared that the network has a solid delivery track record, placing its channels towards the top of media plans for all types of advertisers. “When an advertiser returns to your channel after seeing success in terms of direct sales impact, it goes without saying that they will spend more freely.”

On the English news channels, Dhawan informed that this year they have seen a good surge in advertisers from BFSI, IPO, and Edutech sectors whereas for Hindi News Channels- Real Estate Ancillary, Textiles, and BFSI brands have increased their uptake in advertising.

Meanwhile, the festive year witnessed two big sports properties, IPL and ICC T20 World Cup, followed by GEC genre with strong impact properties such as The Kapil Sharma Show, KBC, Bigg Boss, Big Picture etc. As earlier reported by exchange4media, the demand for inventory was higher by 25-30% than 2019. In fact, the demand for inventory was so high that some broadcasters were not able to book the full inventory received. 

According to Vishal Shah, Managing Partner, Mediacom, given the high amount of demand for other genres, news could have done much better. However, the genre has its own challenges. “From a demand perspective, this festive period saw the highest demand in five years. Several brands which were holding their spends and investments have got super active during the festive period.” 

Shah pointed that some of the categories like personal hygiene, hair care, auto, etc., have reduced their space in the news category substantially and that's one of the reasons for the overall decline in the ad volume. He said, “Auto is a very big spender on the news which has reduced its spends in a big way across languages.” The category has tightened its pocket this year due to the shortage of semiconductor chips. 

“One big trend that is picking up by a lot of English audiences are consuming content on mobile, therefore you see the surge in digital-first or digital native platforms. Additionally, all the publications are promoting their news on digital platforms and a lot of brands feel that it's better to target audience via digital media vs news as a genre on TV,” Shah asserted.  

Shah further added that another challenge that this genre is facing is the lack of viewership data and stated that the brands which are CPRP and number driven would want to abstain from such genres. The absence of BARC data is not accelerating the momentum. 

Stating similar thoughts, Kaushik Chakraborty, EVP, iProspect India shared that, overall, there is a marginal drop in 2021 in comparison to 2020 but as compared to 2019, this year has witnessed significant growth. Delving further, in ’21 Business Genre and HD News Channels grew significantly in terms of AdEx.

He further added that South and Maharashtra channels have witnessed growth, whereas, English, Bengali, Oriya and North East channels got impacted adversely. “In fact, there is not much growth in Hindi News genre rather the genre got stabilised. The primary reason for de-growth for the English News genre is attributed to cost inefficiency. Also, we can reach this audience digitally at a significantly lower cost", he noted

Dr. Sandeep Goyal, MD, Rediffusion, said, “Festive season was immensely good for each genre and segment except for automobiles. The amount of pressure that everyone faced during the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic has led to the opening of floodgates.”

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