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News channels to net in Rs 35 crore in ad revenue with Budget coverage

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 25, 2010
The news genre experiences a spike of about 5 per cent owing to Budget coverage; however, there is a significant increase in time spent on news channels and this is what attracts advertisers

The news channels have reasons to cheer as Budget coverage is set to bring in ad-revenue worth Rs 35 crore and more to the whole genre.

Industry heads and media pundits say that this year, the news genre is set to witness an increase of almost 40 per cent in advertising spends on the coverage of the Union Budget.

Listing the reasons for the increase in advertising spends this year in comparison to 2009, Deepak Lamba, business head, BloombergUTV, says, "A few major impediments last year came in the form of a bad slowdown period and the assembly elections in various states. Another news property (elections) was competing for the same money. Also, the attention was again split into two events - the Interim Budget and the Union Budget."

Budget as an event attracts heavy ad-spends by advertisers belonging to categories such as banking and insurance, securities, broker houses, banking services and products, infrastructure and real estate and corporates with plans of launching IPOs.

Sandeep Sharma, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Times Now and ET Now, adds, "Owing to the economic slowdown last year, two categories, insurance and automobile, were not too dominant on news channels. However, the budget coverage this time has marked the big-bang entry of these categories into the news channels by way of big sponsorship deals. This is a heartening development as it further adds to the revenue stream of the news channels."

The overall viewership for the news genre goes up by 5 per cent or more during budget coverage. As per the TAM data July 6, 2009, (Budget Day) All India 25+ years, English business news channels' overall share in the overall TV viewing stood at 0.38 per cent in comparison to a share of 0.1 per cent a day prior to the budget announcements. However, the next day's post Budget coverage on July 7, 2009 saw an increase in the share of news channels as they enjoyed a share of 0.29 per cent.

Similarly, English news channels, too, witnessed an increase in their share in TV viewership on Budget day as they commanded a share of 0.43 in comparison to a share of 0.38 on the day leading up to the Budget. Hindi business news channels, too, saw their stocks rising with Budget coverage. As per the TAM data for HSM 25+ years, Hindi business news channels commanded a viewership share of 0.68 on the Budget day; the previous day's coverage saw them garnering a share of 0.25 per cent, whereas on July 7, 2009, their share again dropped down to 0.5 per cent.

Hindi news channels, due to the larger audience base and higher number of players, registered a share of 6.63 on the Budget day, in comparison to the share of 5.75 on a day prior to Budget day. The next day's coverage also fetched a share of 6.58 per cent in the overall TV viewing pie.

Sharma, representing Times Now and ET Now, says, "Both business news channels and general news channels, including English and Hindi channels, experience a huge flip in viewership. In fact, there is a significant increase in the time spent on news channels on account of Budget coverage and this phenomenon attracts advertisers to increase their spends on news channels."

His remarks are borne out by TAM data, according to which the average time spent by viewers on English business channels (for All India 25+) on last year's Budget day stood at 15 minutes, in comparison to a mere 1 minute spent by viewers on a day prior to the Budget. For HSM 25+ years, the Hindi business news genre registered an increase of 9 minutes in terms of time devoted to the news channels by viewers in comparison to a day prior to the budget announcements. For the Hindi news genre, the average time spent on Budget day in 2009 stood at 23 per cent, in comparison to average time spent of 21 minutes a day prior to the Budget.

According to R Venkatasubramanian, vice-president, Lintas Media Group, "The Overall viewership of the news channels owing to budget coverage does not go up significantly, it hovers between 5 and 10 per cent. With new viewers coming in to check the announcements and details of major policies and regular viewers sticking longer to their regular choice of channels, there is a significant increase in time spent on news channels, including general news and business channels during the run up to the budget coverage as well on the D-day and on account of post-event coverage."

As far as the ad-rates are concerned for the budget coverage, the news channels charge a premium which is sometimes double or triple of the regular ad-rates. For example, a Hindi news channel commanding a regular rate of Rs 1500 for a 10 second ad-spot could ask for Rs 5,000 on budget day. The top ranking English business news channel is in a position to charge as much as Rs 55,000 for a regular 10 second ad-spot.

Sharing insights on the high premium charged by news channels during budget coverage, Avinash Pandey, vice-president and head of revenue, Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS), comments, "The most expensive ad-slots on budget day is the advertising space immediately after the finance minister's speech. This, coupled with presenting sponsorship deals for the entire budget coverage (including programmes leading up to budget, budget day itself and post budget coverage) and graphic elements running on the TV screens during the budget speech contribute to the majority of the monies to any news channel."

One of the representatives, on condition of anonymity, revealed that in 2009, one of the leading business channels presented a sponsorship deal of Rs 1 crore with a leading financial brand, which included sponsored branded content, advertorial coupled with regular FCT (free commercial time).

Pandey shares that since the quality of analysis is in-depth on English business news channels and since they target a niche business class, they are the channels which command the highest premium. Hindi news channels see an increase in the number of ad-spots but since they reach out to the masses, they are really not in a position to hike their prices beyond a point.

This year, out of the Rs 35 crore ad revenue that the news genre is expected to garner for Budget coverage, Rs 15 crore is expected to go to English and Hindi business news channels, while Rs 12 crore will go to Hindi general news channels and the remaining Rs 9 crore will be cornered by English news channels.

Anil Uniyal, chief operating officer, TV18 media sales, comments, "In the 90's, the Budget speech was followed only by a selected number of people, such as policymakers, chief executive officers and financial institutions. Today, its appeal has increased as it is being tracked and analysed by people from all strata of society. With the budget becoming a mass event, advertisers, too, are encouraged to direct their monies on the relevant TG (target group)."

Interestingly, to give an idea as to how big an event the budget coverage is for CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz, the channels have on offer more than 75,000 seconds of TVCs across multiple channels, over 20,000 sq. ft of OOH branding across key metros, with more than 7,000 sq.cms of advertising across general and trade media, more than 30 days of online activity, and more than 10,000 seconds of radio advertising!

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