What's keeping the news genre buzzing in the absence of ratings?

Backed by the festive fervour, the rates have actually gone up in the blackout period, said media buyers

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Feb 9, 2021 9:18 AM
tam adex

Despite BARC withholding TV news ratings for over 12 weeks, there has been little to no impact on ad rates. The high demand for the category added to improving consumer sentiments has kept ad rates stable in the genre. Backed by festive fervour, the rates have actually gone up in the blackout period, said media buyers. 
It in fact high impact news has kept the news genre buzzing with advertisement monies at unaltered rates in the absence of ratings. 
“News is one of the key genres in a TV media plan for multiple product categories. In case of certain products/services targeting males, it is the lead genre; hence the inventory demand for the genre is always high. Absence of ratings hasn’t really affected the rates of News channels. News channels attract audiences when instances and events happen, and from the time News ratings have stopped, enough and more events have happened, which will bring the audiences to news channels – Farmers agitation, COVID vaccine launch, Union budget after a Pandemic year and most importantly the political battleground being set for the forthcoming state elections. Audiences are curious to get details about these socio-political events,” said Navin Kathuria, EVP & Principal Partner, OMD Mudramax.
According to experts, media vendors also know that high impact news will bring eyeballs to their channels and hence the rates are not going down in spite of channels not having their usual brag factor of TRPs. 
Kathuria points out an important aspect of ad rates in the genre. According to him, the news genre does not get as high ratings as a GEC, neither do they clock numbers as low as niche channels so it is only a secondary parameter for negotiations.
 “Apart from ratings, news genre is negotiated on a lot of qualitative factors – like the key driver news bulletin in prime time, charisma of the anchor, how many spots in that key bulletin, presence of the brand on special coverage (e.g. PM / FM / DM address to the nation, budget speech etc), non-FCT elements being bundled in the deal etc,” said Kathuria.
According to Sujata Dwibedy, Group Trading Director, Amplifi India, dentsu, news is not bought on ratings; it is normally bought at effective rates.
“The genre did face a lot of heat in November and December, due to multiple factors but they revived because of big events like Budget which is bought at high rates, almost 3-5x the regular rates. Also, there are cricket and other events, which will automatically attract viewers and hence the rates,” she said. 
Dwibedy said that while high news value days are always well-negotiated on regular inventory as well, it is not only rates, but it would also be integrations, innovations and sponsorships along with different elements like ashtons, logo bugs etc. which are part of negotiations and value adds. “Additionally there are content solutions that the news channels have been successfully implementing over the years and have expanded since last year. So we talk about holistic solutions nowadays,” she added. 
No wonder, ad volumes have also not been significantly impacted. Latest TamAdEx data show that the indexed ad volumes surged on news genre by 12% during the October-December period when compared to July-September. Just like the months preceding the blackout even during the blackout period the top advertisers in the category remained constant. Hindustan Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser India, Godrej Consumer Products, CGMMF (Amul) and Colgate Palmolive India were top advertisers in the absence of ratings just like in the July-September quarter. 
Lastly, there is the demand-supply factor that continues to keep the rates afloat for the genre even when there is no update on the return of ratings. 
“January-March being the last quarter of the year, a lot of categories get active – BFSI for instance wherein News genre is critical. Many advertisers have to utilize their marketing & media budgets before the end of the financial year and thus the demand for inventory increases. Hence the absence of ratings really does not influence the inclusion/exclusion of the news genre in the plan. A media planner has to use his wisdom, prudence and historical data trends while including News channels in the media plan and negotiating with the news channel representatives in such unusual situations,” said another media buyer.

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