As the year draws to a close, viewership of general entertainment channels (GECs) on television has stabilised and reached pre-Covid levels. According to data provided by ICICI Securities, total primetime impressions between week 40 and week 46 of 2020 were consistently over 900 million.
The report said that primetime viewership on GECs, which had dropped to 554 million impressions per week in Q1FY21, reached 959 million impressions per week in October and November. BARC India has not independently corroborated the data.
GECs had to broadcast reruns of older shows, especially mythological shows, in April, May and June because production of fresh content was put on hold due to the pandemic. Viewers then fell back on movie channels, children’s content and news, and spent more time watching TV during non-primetime hours.
New episodes of existing shows began airing mid-July onwards. Broadcasters have even launched fresh programmes over the last few months. Star Plus introduced Anupamaa, Shaadi Mubarak, and Imlie; Pinjara Khoobsurti Ka and Molkki are two shows that Colors TV added to its programming; while Zee TV premiered Apna Time Bhi Aayega, Ram Pyaare Sirf Humare and Hamari Wali Good News.
Sanjesh Jain, assistant vice president, equity research, ICICI Securities, said viewership of GECs is back to pre-Covid levels across regions and not just in Hindi-speaking markets. For instance, total viewership impressions on Tamil GECs has grown from 248 million per week in Q1FY21 to 421 million per week in Q3FY21 (until November). Bangla GEC viewership has recovered from 99 million impressions per week in Q1FY21 to 204 million impressions per week in October-November. Jain attributed the recovery to not just fresh fiction content, but also to non-fiction shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Bigg Boss, Indian Idol and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.
Advertising volume regained momentum during the festive season. As per BARC India, in week 43, the Indian television industry recorded 38.7 million seconds in advertising. However, revival in viewership and ad volumes has not supported revenue generation for all broadcasters. “IPL 2020 took away a large chunk of advertiser money and left very little for other broadcasters,” said Sandeep Goyal, founder, Mogae Media.
He said advertising from BFSI and consumer appliances sectors is expected to be muted until summer 2021. “Auto companies will advertise when they launch new models next year. For now, it is ed-tech and gaming brands that are making a splash on television,” Goyal said.
Broadcasters are also under pressure to reduce unit ad rates and compensate with extra FCT (free commercial time) if the investment does not deliver the guaranteed GRP (gross rating point).
Read Also: Newsmakers 2020