ABP News-e4m webinar: News genre to see a growth of 3-4% even post COVID: Ajay Gupte
Gupte, CEO, South Asia, Wavemaker, feels news will continue to gain viewership as the global scene is heating up and something or the other is constantly happening
News has undoubtedly done extremely well in terms of viewership in the times of COVID-19, with people being at home and constantly hooked on to the genre. The viewing time has gone up to four and a half hours a day from the previous three and a half hours. But the big question is will news channels continue to see this growth in the long term post COVID?
According to Ajay Gupte, CEO, South Asia, Wavemaker, the genre could record a "rough gain of 3-4 per cent" even after the pandemic. Gupte said this during the fifth and the final session of 'Is NEWS undervalued', presented by ABP News, and moderated by e4m's Associate Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman.
"Because of news, Digital and TV have both gained in this situation by about 15% and 30% respectively. This means that the viewing time has gone up to four and a half hours a day from the previous three and a half hours," he said.
"News has doubled, with the first two weeks of April seeing even more of a hike. Cinema has also benefited, although GEC has remained flat, with only shows like Ramayan and Mahabharata being the saving grace," he added.
One cannot forget that in normal times, news accounted to 8 per cent of the total viewership, which has now gone up to about 16 odd per cent, which is already quite high, he underlined. "Non-prime ime viewership came with 50 per cent growth, which took the ceiling up. Similarly, women viewership came into news, which was the function of single TV households and the concern of everybody in the house. Both together caused this jump in viewership," he explained.
Gupte feels news will continue to gain viewership as the global scene is heating up and something or the other is constantly happening around. "These events are not controllable but beneficial to the genre and will keep happening," he added.
"It's difficult to predict the hike news could get. The general interest increase in news will certainly gain for a while and the NPT will certainly go away, depending on how well programming is adjusted to allow for a wider net of audience to come in. A rough gain of 3-4% is possible," he said.
However, speaking about the fate of non-prime time, he believes that once people start going back to office, this viewership is bound to fall, which has already been witnessed in the green zones, with have had a tapering NPT.
In order to keep the genre going even post the pandemic and doing whatever damage control possible, he is also of strong belief that news channels can look at programming to widen their base, which has been acquired in this COVID time and will continue to be for a month or two.
"A programming which can get on board people who are not usual news suspects is essential. This opportunity should be used to expand your base," Gupte suggests.
Speaking about whether the increase in viewership resulted into revenue, Gupte said, "Since April, a lot of advertisers are cutting on spends. In the news genres the drop was only about 10 per cent and GEC has dropped to about 30 per cent, whereas in terms of revenue, there has been a 50 per cent drop in terms of GECs and around a 25 per cent drop for Cinema," said Gupte adding that News still managed to get away better than the genres.
In terms of general adex, news acquires about 10-12 per cent of the total adex.
"What the channel ultimately wants is in TRP and CPRP and that is what they compete for. This plateaus on a certain level and cannot go beyond that and if it does, the market equilibrium will be affected," he said.
Marketers, on the other hand, look out for consumers and viewers and go with the channel that gives that to them.
Gupte said, "Expecting more than what news is already achieving is unreal, because eventually this is a market of people looking to buy eyeballs."
He continued by applauding the channels who were directly on the frontline of the pandemic and constantly creating fresh content which had consumers moving towards them, doubling the viewership. This resulted in advertisers moving with the viewers.
Channels also came up with help bands, which made them a lot of money and in turn helped advertisers too. They've also done a lot of sponsored shows with advertisers and have put in a lot of hard work and innovation in their offerings.
Speaking about premiumisation of news, Gupte believes that the genre does deserve a premium, but the current situation doesn't allow that as everything is evaluated, with media and advertisers both suffering immensely.
"I have personally been involved in a lot of sponsorships and programmes that advertisers have started on news seeing the relevance," Gupte added.
It takes time for everyone to come on board and start advertising and also for the channels to start making such product offerings to sell. However, Gupte is positive that this will happen in time, with signs like impact programming already evident.
Talking about the impact of fragmentation in the news channels, Gupte underlines a few advantages and emphasises that clients are not affected, as they pay CPRPs according to the viewership and that the channels are the ones affected. "If I were advising, I would ask the bigger channels to have fewer channels so they can have a larger share, even though from the media perspective it's difficult to control this," said Gupte.
The media sector is hoping that from July onwards things would get better. However, the demand is going up and news should be able to command a better price, with the viewer base being present for a while. "The coming few months should be better for news, however, GEC will have to wait until they get their content back in place," he concluded.
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