The big IPL faceoff: Will Hindi GECs take the hit this year too?

Last year, with IPL coinciding with the festive season and channels launching impact properties, GEC prime-time was the only genre that IPL could not surpass

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Mar 17, 2021 8:54 AM  | 4 min read

Over the years, the impact of Indian Premier League (IPL), one of the biggest cricket tournaments of the country, on the viewership of general entertainment channels (GECs) has been consistent. Except the last season. 

As per the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India yearbook, sports surpassed all genres during IPL 13, but Hindi GEC prime-time. IPL was aired from Week 38 to Week 45 2020. While sports genre witnessed 6-times increase in viewership in Week 45 and registered 23 billion viewing minutes as compared to Week 34-37, Hindi GEC saw 3% growth and registered 121 billion viewing minutes in Week 45 as compared to Week 34-37. Hindi movies and Hindi news dropped by 4% and 20% respectively in Week 45.  

The reason why Hindi GEC prime-time was not impacted this year, say experts, was the timing of the T20 league. Due to Covid pandemic, IPL 13 was shifted to the September-November period, which is the festive months and the time when most broadcasters launched their impact properties like Bigg Boss, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), India’s Best Dancer and Taare Zameen Par. And so they managed to grab viewers’ attention despite IPL going on.

Shailesh Kapoor, Founder and CEO Ormax Media, explains that IPL's impact on GEC viewership has been fairly consistent over the last few years and has been in the 10-15% range typically. 

“We can expect the same this year too. Since channels usually avoid bringing new shows during IPL, launches in the preceding months of February & March have been a norm over the years. Viewership of shows with loyal audiences and popular characters tend to drop less compared to others. Similarly, viewership of shows with women as primary audiences too tend to drop less than those with men as primary audiences. But at an overall level, Indian families have learnt to balance IPL in their TV schedules over the last decade, and they are managing it quite well,” remarks Kapoor. 

As the 14th edition of IPL is taking place on its usual time (April-May), it is predicted that this year it will have some impact on the viewership of Hindi GECs prime-time too. 

This happens every time, only last year was an exception, said an industry observer.

“While IPL is a big property, GEC shows have their own loyal audience. A drop in the viewership of GECs is expected, but shows with loyal audience base will have least impact. Also, most of the shows were launched in the last few months. We hardly see any new launches when IPL is on,” he shares.

Starting January, all Hindi GECs have launched over 10-15 shows so far, both in the fiction and non-fiction category. The shows in the non-fiction category include Indian Pro Music League on Zee TV, Dance Deewane on Colors TV, and Indian Idol on Sony Entertainment Television. Shows in the fiction category include Bawra Dil and Udaariyaan on Colors, Ishk Par Zor Nahi, Kyu Utthe Dil Chhod Ayae, Punyashlok Ahilyabai on SET, Teri Meri Ikk Jindri, Apki Nazron Ne Samjha, Rudrakaal, Mehndi hai rachne wali, Pandya store on Star Plus and Wagle Ki Duniya – Nayi Peedhi Naye Kissey on SabTV. 

“Shows like KBC or Bigg Boss are the programmes that people look forward to and are purposely launched during the festive season due to the high demand while April- May is more of a lull period. Last year was one of its kind due to Covid. But this time, IPL will have a commanding position, like it used to have earlier,” says Karan Taurani, VP, Elara Capital. “Last year there was a clash between IPL and Hindi GECs. Otherwise they both are very different offering and both have a different kind of target time,” he adds.

Talking about the impact of IPL, Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Viacom18 Hindi Mass Entertainment, in an interview with exchange4media recently, had said, “Yes, IPL will come and go, but we all have to survive. Everyone has to do their business; there is no other option. Everyone's business got impacted due to the pandemic and ongoing, but we will continue to do our business.” 

In the past, it has been seen that long-running shows and some popular non-fiction properties are not much affected during IPL. However, experts believe that broadcasters are aware of this impact of IPL on the viewership of other genres and hence strategise their content accordingly. 

When it comes to advertising, experts believe GECs will command their usual ad rates and it's unlikely that it will get impacted, unlike the previous season when IPL took place during the festive period and clashed with big non-fiction properties.

“GECs and IPL advertisers are different as they have different target audience. Also, not everyone can advertise on IPL and hence the brands usually spend on GEC shows and will continue to do so,” said a senior media planner on the condition of anonymity. 

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