We wiped out Rs 20 crore cost this year: Sunil Lulla
According to BARC India CEO, next three months are going to be crucial to determine the future for the next 12 months
“We are making our business leaner and making it more sustainable. We have already given up eight-nine places we worked in. As much as 33 pr cent of our staff is working from home. We have enabled our company to be like this. We have brought our cost down and wiped out Rs 20 crore of cost this year, and are wiping up more. So as a company, we can do more by using less resources,” shared BARC India CEO Sunil Lulla while speaking in a webinar organised by exchange4media on ‘ The show must go on: Emerging Stronger post COVID-19'.
Lulla predicted a few things that will emerge this year for the industry. He shared that at BARC India, they are exploring better tools and things in digital so that they can operate with transparency for a bigger ecosystem than just television alone.
He also shared that due to COVID-19, this year, the broadcast industry will see a 5-8 per cent attrition of channels. “They are going to shut the business and not want to continue in the business because it's been a terrible time. Other than that, there will be smart programming that will emerge from some of broadcasters which will change perhaps the way programming is consumed. Most of the big-ticket events on TV happen in the later part of the year and if all of those start coming back, the confidence will also come back.”
He said it's important to drive the GDP and the industry should do that. "If resources are good, people will invest in television, not now but little later. There will be a delay but the growth will not go away. Next three months are going to be crucial to determine the future for the next 12 months," he opind.
Speaking about the broadcast industry, Lulla shared some data which shows that the volume of advertising on television is down by approximately 30 per cent as compared to January and 35 per cent as compared to last year. “The big event of the year IPL did not happen in the first part of the year. I hope it happens in the second half of the year because it will bring the confidence back as it gives reach to advertisers and also create great entertainment.”
In the lockdown situation, as people stayed at home, they choose television as the screen of the households. According to him, initially, the entire frenzy went towards the news genre and it jumped from 7 per cent to 21 per cent, which is now down to 15 per cent but still double of the category it was earlier. Movies genre was the second to grow and kids genre grew marginally. “These categories added approximately 400 million viewing minutes of total television viewing. So an average person watching 3 hours 45 minutes of television started watching close to 4 hours 45 minutes. The smartphone consumption has gone up by an hour per person per day because people are using it for entertainment and work calls.”
He also talked about how avertising has taken a beating , “Advertising has never seen such a bad time. Just as viewing went up by 40 per cent, advertising went down by 30-35 per cent. Will this come back? No, what's gone in April and May is not coming back and this is going to spread over June or may be July.”
During COVID-19, due to the absence of fresh content, many channels were doing reruns; some of the entertainment channels started airing movies and some of the channels brought back their old shows. “The classic turnaround is Doordarshan which became number one network with Ramayana and Mahabharata. The channel started with two advertisers and ended up with 48 advertisers.”
Speaking on the advertising front further, Lulla shared 50 per cent of the advertising basket is essentials, including food, personal care. And I think that will continue. I don't think we should expect a big turn in June. June will be the month where if there is relaxation for production of television, supply chain starts improving and we should start seeing some good change in July," he explained.
Lulla also shared what BARC is doing in providing different measurement tools. “We have a number of tools and services and some of our broadcaster clients use them vigorously in enhancing the content sharpness . Even at this stage, many of them are using these applications because if they retain audiences, they will be able to hold them for many months to come. It is not just an episodic event of peak viewing but it's attracting new audiences and holding onto them. We are releasing in June a deeper analytical tool which will help both the agencies as well as the broadcasters.”
There are tools being introduced for advertisers in specific, fo example Coherts. We work with advertisers and agencies to look at consumer interests by sharply targeting them on the basis of their viewership habits," he elaborated.
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