GECs bank on repeats of daily soaps during IPL

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | March 12, 2010
GECs compensate advertisers for the loss in prime time viewership, by upgrading ad slots in non-prime time, or softening rates for the prime time slots

With IPL (Indian Premier League) 2010 beginning today, a drop in viewership across genres on TV is to be expected, as men and women alike break away from their routine TV viewing to tune into IPL matches.

Given the fact that most Indian households are single-TV homes, it is interesting to see how GECs would face the loss in viewership on account of IPL, and how they would compensate advertisers for this loss.

As per industry estimates, viewership of Hindi GECs drops by 10-15 per cent during IPL. The worst-hit time band turns out to be prime time (8 pm -11 pm), which witnesses a drop of as much as 30-35 per cent.

TAM Data indicate that in such as scenario, repeat telecast has come as a saviour for the GECs. For instance, the repeat telecast of popular shows such as Chhoti Bahu, Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, increased by 34.4 per cent, 18.6 per cent and 14.1 per cent, respectively during IPL in comparison to the average rating garnered by these shows pre IPL. For Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo on Zee, the increase of average ratings of repeat telecast during IPL was more than 50 per cent. (Pre-IPL Period: February 22 to April 11, 2009 and IPL: April 12 to June 6, 2009).

Commenting on the increase in repeat telecast viewership of shows during IPL, Punitha Arumugam, group chief executive officer, Madison Media Group, says, "During IPL, viewership numbers are subject to basic availability of the medium (TV). It's a rare occasion when the remote is in the hands of the male."

She adds, "Moreover, the last two IPL editions have shown that the T20 game enjoys greater popularity even with women audiences, in comparison to other forms of the game. Thus, there are no surprises that loyal soap viewers will shift to other slots, to catch content that they have missed during prime time."

However, industry observers concur that the encouraging numbers for repeat telecasts are simply not enough to compensate for the drop in prime time viewership for GEC players.

According to Atul Phadnis, chief executive officer, What's On India, for advertisers, the drop in prime time viewership means loss of audience, which cannot be recaptured. For example, repeats during other time slots cannot compensate for regular male viewers of prime time telecast.

With the loss in viewership being a reality during IPL, what are the means and ways in which GECs try to compensate their advertisers?

In the GEC space, brands by and large buy inventory on basis of day parts, which means they pay a premium for prime time viewing over non-prime time (morning and afternoon) slots.

Given the high stakes involved in the buying game, a majority of marketers divert part of their money to other genres, such as movies and news, thus spreading and minimising their risks in loss of viewership on GECs.

Within the GEC genre, many agree that though nothing changes on paper, there are hard bargains on lowering of prime time rates. And overall, there is a significant softening of rates in the GEC space.

According to Mona Jain, chief operating officer, VivaKi Exchange, "As such, there is no change in rates for advertisers. But they could get a good deal, in the form of bonuses and upgrades of available slots during non-prime time offered by the GECs."

Jain, however, adds that it's a tough call for channels as well; because during IPL, there is pressure on both inventory and prices. There is a collective clamour from advertisers to be accommodated on slots other than prime time.

But unlike other genres, such as music channels or films, GECs don't have the luxury of tinkering with their schedule to get more advertisers on board. At best, in a half-hour show, a channel can take an extra break or extend commercials for an extra minute or two, in which it will be able to get only four brands on board.

Thus, in more ways than one, as part of a tactical move, channels offer advertisers extra exposure during the late night shows, the afternoon time-band and also the next day's airing of the show, coupled with some extra eyeballs after IPL.

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