Over a month into BARC blackout, news genre sees no impact on ad sales

Industry heads assert that contrary to apprehensions, the genre recorded better numbers this festive season than last year

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Nov 27, 2020 9:19 AM  | 3 min read
TV news

It was a divided house among broadcasters when BARC decided to suspend the measurement of viewership ratings for news channels for 12 weeks. A little over a month now, in spite of the blackout, TV news has not seen any fall in ad rates or advertiser dropouts. Broadcasters say that ad dollars are dependent on a number of factors that go beyond rating points and it is the game of perceptions at the end of the day.

According to M K Anand, MD and CEO of the Times Network, news is an influence medium and it is not bought and sold on CPR. “Mega news brands are not led by numbers. While we do make all efforts to ensure our channels are widely distributed and easily available, we take pride in the strength of our content and the trust our brand evokes. Advertisers look at environment and vehicle brand when they consider news channels and that is a major differentiator for legacy brands,” he said.

“We don’t see any change in our ad revenue in the ratings blackout period,” Anand noted.

Despite apprehensions among a few in the industry, the blackout period did not have any adverse impact on the ad flow of news channels. The festive season is said to have recorded better numbers than last year. Even though the growth is not led by the blackout, it shows there has been no love lost between advertisers and news broadcasters in the absence of a rating mechanism.

Sharing similar thoughts was Ashish Sehgal, Chief Growth Officer, Advertisement Revenue, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, “This quarter the genre recorded a bit of a growth when compared to the same period last year.”

“News inventory is not bought and sold on GRP. There is demand for news which is visible in the viewership data of the past few months, so three months of no ratings doesn’t mean there is no business for channels,” he asserted.

The only disadvantage in the situation, according to Sehgal, is that there would be no re-negotiations in pricings till the ratings are back. “For doing business with channels, advertisers have their own measuring parameters and in case there is a need to go by ratings, then ratings from the immediate past are reflective of trends and is considered equally valuable,” he added.

This is not the first time BARC data went off rating. In the first half of 2019, BARC went into a blackout period of not releasing viewership data on public platforms when the industry was migrating to TRAI’s new tariff order. While NTO may have put broadcasters in an uncomfortable position, the blackout had no tangible impact on the channels’ revenue.

It is business as usual for most news broadcasters and as Sehgal said earlier some are doing even better than before. "The blackout period is not creating trouble to get advertisers on-board. However, it is difficult to manage certain categories for whom the rating benchmark is very critical for assessing the performance of any campaign. As a matter of fact, during this period our ad inventory is running at full capacity which reiterates the confidence of the advertisers in New Nation,” said Abhay Ojha, President- Sales & Marketing, News Nation Network.

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