How Covid2019 impacted ad rates & consumption of news genre

Industry experts analysed changes and discussed adjusting strategies to the new normal.

NEW DELHI: Covid2019 impacted every category of the television business. In the news genre, ad volumes, as well as ad rates, were hit initially, but have since regained momentum. There was a massive surge in viewership, which is now beginning to stabilise. And with more and more people getting onto the digital platform, the news consumption pattern has witnessed a slight change.

In a session titled – ‘Advertising on News’ at’s News Television Summit, co-powered by TVU Networks, eminent advertisers and agency heads discussed how stakeholders in this business are analysing the rapid changes and adjusting their strategies to it. The panellists included FBB, Future Group CMO Prachi Mohapatra, Policy Bazaar head of brand marketing Samir Sethi, Wavemaker CEO – south Asia Ajay Gupte, Essence SVP & MD – India Anand Chakravarthy, ITV group CEO Varun Kohli. It was moderated by E&Y partner M&E Ashish Pherwani.

Pherwani began by asking Kohli how he sees the ad rates at news channels in the current scenario. Kohli mentioned that Covid2019 had hit everyone adversely big time. “The FMCG brands that were operating on the other genre started coming to the news genre because the latter was growing. All other genres were lacking fresh content, except movies where the channels just played their libraries. Overall, the news genre was impacted for the first two months of the financial year but then it regained,” added Kohli.

He elaborated that in the post-Covid scenario, especially during the festive season and election times, the frequency news channels will be able to get their old rates back. “So maybe the leaders might not have gained it yet but the frequency channels have started getting their rates back in some order because they are making a lot of sense to the agencies and advertisers in terms of CPRP mix.”

Adding to this Gupte from Wavemaker shared that Covid was a big blessing for the news genre. “GEC was not launching fresh content and newspapers also suffered during that time, which led to news on television doing really well. During that time, there was a high viewership throughout the day and the viewership among women also went up. Interestingly, we are also seeing a lot of appointment viewing coming into play, which was not there earlier. Previously, the news channels sold on the basis of TRPs or day parts, but now it’s also selling some shows that command a premium,” explained Gupte.

He went on to add that during this time a lot of extended family viewed news channels, so it will be interesting for the latter to think about creating content that works for other family members too.

Pherwani then touched upon changes in consumption of news on the digital front, especially more after the Covid period, to which Chakravarthy from Essence responded that people are fast moving towards digital consumption.

“I think with English news genre, building a product which is completely differentiated and is able to add value over and above what a digital platform to my mind will determine how long this genre will exist. If we do not change the nature of how English news channels position themselves and their content and what they offer, I fear that they may be over indexed today and will start witnessing a decline in ad revenue before it starts moving to digital very quickly – especially in a country like India, which is rapidly becoming digital. On the other hand, in the language news sector, the content and consumption of news is picking up slowly. It is happening but there is a possibility of a longer run,” he outlined.

Seeking a marketers point of view, Pherwani called upon Mohapatra, who mentioned that the digital consumption has rapidly increased especially from the start of the lockdown. However, her mantra regarding spends on digital news is that she seeks a brand-safe environment to operate and a clear RoI on it.

On the other hand, Sethi from PolicyBazaar stated that his brand continues to stay bullish on TV as it is extremely RoI focussed. Moreover, television offers the consumer freedom to surf the internet. He mentioned that whenever a PolicyBazaar spot runs on television, a simultaneous surge within 10 seconds is observed by the brand while it is mapping the data. People can watch the spot and engage with the brand on the website but when a similar set of audience is watching news on OTT, they hold back from exploring the internet.

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