What’s the country watching in COVID-19 isolation mode?

Industry experts say there will be a rise in viewership for News, Entertainment, Movies and Kids content due to the Stay-At-Home advisory in place

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Mar 28, 2020 5:11 PM

With people confined to homes as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, it is no surprise that media consumption has increased across platforms. With schools shut and kids grounded, it comes as no surprise that channels meant for children, whose content is library programming, is expected to see an uptick.

Another genre that has seen a rise in viewership is news as people are keen to stay abreast of all the latest developments. However, the spike in viewership is unlikely to result in increased ad rates in this environment.

According to Sujata Dwibedy, Group Trading Director, Amplifi, Dentsu Aegis Network India, “We are estimating that there will be an evident surge in News, Entertainment Movies and Kids content as people are working from home and the children are at home too. While TV consumption is going up, spends on TV might drop slightly due to the situation.”

Dwibedy further said digital will see an increase in consumption and OTT will gain, reasons being the same as that for spike in TV viewing. “Gaming has already become big next to the OTTs. The time spent on OTTs has jumped from about 22 minutes to 48 minutes. The number of downloads have also increased. Radio consumption too will increase.”

According to Jehil Thakkar, Partner and Head, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte India, the increased consumption of content on OTT makes it the right time for these platforms to push for subscriptions. “There is anecdotal evidence available that OTT consumption has risen. There has been a rise in consumption in parts of the day that typically sees low viewership, such as mornings. Video consumption has gone up in late nights on weekdays.”

“This is a good time for OTT players to actually start pushing subscription plans. Consumption will increase as people will spend more time looking for a variety of content. This is the time when you might get people to adapt or adopt subscription on OTT,” Thakkar added.

Another genre that may be hit is the GEC. With the Prime Minister announcing an extended 21-day complete lock-down, it will be some time before production for fiction programming resumes. Depending on the GEC, a daily show has a bank for about a fortnight, while weekly shows have a bank of one to two episodes. As the production now will not be up by the first week of April, the impact on GEC content will be significant. This means that one possibility is that GECs could look at re-runs to fill their FPC. This could impact ratings as well as advertiser interest in terms of GECs.

Mohit Joshi, Managing Director – India, Havas Media Group, says: “Very soon fresh content will not be available and we will start seeing re-runs of the old episodes. The ratings might get impacted in the short run. Again, as far as advertiser interest is concerned, it can’t be seen in the short run. We will have to wait and see what the long-term impact of this social shift will be and make or tweak plans and strategies accordingly.”

If the condition doesn’t normalise by the beginning of the second quarter, ratings may fall but when people have few options the fall may not be as drastic. “People will scratch the bottom on content viewing across all video platforms because they would have nothing to do but view content across TV and Digital. Hence, ratings may drop but marginally. Also, in a scenario like this, whether or not the research agencies will be able to track the ratings and display the drop, is also something we would wait and watch. It will definitely impact ratings to some extent but just like how the GECs partner with us, we also partner with them and if the repeat telecast is being shown across the networks, people will be bound to watch it. Therefore, advertisers will not have a choice but to take GECs even with repeat content. There may be rate discussions but the need for GECs even with the repeat telecast will remain,” she added.

Jehil Thakkar believes that reruns can’t stop viewership getting affected, thereby the advertising rates. “However, strong advertisers will continue to keep their brands alive. Advertising is not going to disappear completely but action-oriented advertising will come to a stop.”

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