Despite rise in viewership, news channels see decline in ad volumes: Report

In its latest report Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) – an audience measurement firm revealed a 298% jump in viewership of news channels resulting in increase in share of news to total TV viewership to 21% from 7%. As the total number of Covid-19 cases continue to increase — people have switched onto news channels to get regular updates.

However, the surge in viewership is yet to translate into advertising dollars. In fact, data from TAM Media Research shows overall volume of advertising has dropped 11% in March, this year compared to the same period last year. “The reach of the news channels is 40%-50% higher than general entertainment channels (GEC). With news providing a better return-on-investment (RoI) based on higher delivery, advertisers have upped their investments,” Vikas Khanchandani, Group CEO, Republic Media Network.

According to the TAM AdEx data, between January-March 2020, news channels posted nearly 15% drop in ad volumes as opposed to the same period last year. TV industry reported a 6.4% growth in advertising revenue in 2019 to reach Rs 32,000, as per the latest Ficci-EY report. Of this, news channels accounted for 9%-10% that is Rs 2,880 crore – Rs 3, 00 crore of the ad volume. “This is primarily because last January-March was the pre-election period. The volume of advertising on news channels was very high because of General Elections,” Avinash Pandey, chief executive officer, ABP News Network said.

This year with a lack of marquee events, it is English news channels which have recorded the highest drop in ad volumes at 17% during the January-March 2020, and 28% in March 2020. Next in line, Hindi news channels have posted a 6% decline, between January-March 2020 and 16% drop in March. Interestingly, news channels in the regional language such as Marathi and Punjabi have recorded a rise in the volume of advertising. “Hindi and English news channels, unlike regional news channels, will not see a rise in ad volumes because these are cluttered market,” Pandey added.

According to industry estimates, the cost of a ten ad spot across the top three English news channels during prime-time that is between 8 pm to 10 pm ranges between Rs 30,000 – Rs 35,000. The ad rate declines between Rs 20,000 – Rs 25,000 in case of leading Hindi news channels. Compared to GECs — news channels command a lesser ad rate — hence the volume of ads compensate for the lower price. According to Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, with main industries such as automotive, retail not advertising, the volume of ads have declined on news channels. At present e-commerce platforms, electronic payment apps and banks are among the few other sectors which are actively advertising on TV, besides FMCG. Hence, broadcasters are now looking at other opportunities to cash in on the viewership rise. While some are taking smaller breaks and selling free commercial time (FCT) at a premium, others are occupying more screen space for brand endorsements. “We are creating new revenue opportunities through a series of innovative creative solutions that are being developed for clients across categories,” Times Network said in a statement. The broadcaster claims that banking, healthcare and digital are up-coming categories in advertising.

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