Will IPL 2020 impact Hindi GECs?

  •  August 21,2020 By IndianTelevision Team

MUMBAI: When it comes to Cricket, the passion of every Indian marks an unfathomable scale. They cherish IPL due to the high-powered action of three hours, which keeps the spectators glued to their TV sets. For years, cricket has received humungous viewership. Speaking of 2019, IPL clocked viewership of 462 million and in 2018, and the event clocked a viewership of 412 million. It demonstrates the audiences’ faithfulness towards the tournament. An expert also stated that it is no less than a prime-time reality show for Indian audiences.

Usually, IPL has been scheduled between March and May. It has been observed that during this time, Hindi GECs schedule no big launches, tentpole shows, or any new programmes. The sporting event draws in a large chunk of viewers amid the prime time slots which influence the viewership of Hindi GECs. Moreover, the broadcaster commands premium rates for IPL inventory, and brands across various categories make a beeline to join the festivities on mobile and television.

In a special interaction with indiantelevision.com, OMD Mudramax EVP & principal partner Navin Kathuria said,” In a normal scenario, when IPL is held between March and May period, Hindi GECs refrained from launching any new properties- fiction or non-fiction.  IPL did affect former’s viewership across audience segments - slightly in the negative. They also offer special rate packages to attract advertisers during the tournament.”

IPL 2020: A big event

However, the year 2020 has turned out to be an extraordinary year as the event will be held between September and November. Additionally, it’s the biggest live sports tournament after six months.

Kathuria mentions, “Only 17 per cent of the total sports events took place due to pandemic. Secondly, there is a fatigue in viewers due to the plethora of mythological programmes, an overdose of Covid-19 news, repeat movies, and others. Viewers are craving for refreshing content, and this tournament will provide that much-required breather. Thirdly, the majority of the working population will be at home, as most of the organisations will not be fully functional. Also, the gathering at sports bars and clubs will be prohibited due to social distancing norms. All these factors indicate that home viewing of IPL will see an upsurge. The total TV viewership might remain the same or go up marginally. During this time, the time spent will definitely go up even if the reach would remain the same or marginally witness an increase, thereby affecting the viewership of other genres.”

The Media Ant Co- Founder Samir Chaudhary echoed in similar sentiments.

Coinciding with Festive Season

Coincidentally, the tournament is happening during the festive season, which also brings huge revenue for Hindi GECs. The latter launches most of their big-ticket programs such as Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Bigg Boss, etc. amid this time. These events pull a substantial premium and have their own set of loyal audiences. IPL broadcaster have already started booking their inventory, which implies several sponsors booking slots and parking their funds. So, the big question emerges will IPL impact the viewership and ad spends on GECs.

Chaudhary sets the stage by clarifying that traditional festivities are the greatest opportunities for Hindi GECs and there was no consumption from sports. “The lines were demarcated that April-May would be for cricket and festive seasons would be for GEC, but as IPL is coming now, advertisers want to spend a certain amount where the viewership is high. When the viewership goes up due to the big league tournament then viewership automatically goes down on GEC. They have lesser inventory to sell,” adds Chaudhary.

Is Festive Season tricky for Hindi GEC’s?

Several Hindi GECs are upping their lineup for the forthcoming festive season. Apart from the existing content line-up, Zee TV is fortifying the primetime slot with four truly differentiated fiction launches coming during the same time frame. Each show is based on family entertainment.

According to Zee TV business head Aparna Bhosle, over the years, this space has managed to sustain viewership and even grow in the face of IPL. She says, “Long-running fiction or non-fiction shows have, by and large, not seen an adverse impact on viewership due to existing fan bases and the loyalty channels’ command in terms of appointment viewership,” adds Bhosle.

Enterr10 network will also have a robust line up starting from the end of August until November end. The network will launch a slew of original shows to strengthen the fixed point chart (FPC). 

However, Enterr10 Television Chief Operating Officer Deep Drona brings forth his contrary opinion saying that IPL and festivities together will shake the advertising and viewership pie since a good deal of revenue will be taken away by IPL. “Before Covid-19, the advertisers had planned and budgeted for a normal IPL and T20 cricket world cup, but now with the pandemic, we are left with only one big property which is lined up in Diwali Season. That’s the best time to air it. The audience is enthusiastic about the tournament, and so the performance in terms of ratings could be unprecedented or amongst the best in the recent seasons,” added Drona.

Taking into consideration that a huge crowd will watch this tournament at home, it might provide an advantage to Hindi GECs to hold back the audiences. Speaking on the same, Drona noted that the overall pie will unquestionably increase as the old returns on Doordarshan garnered huge eyeballs.

Bhosle is optimistic that the viewership of TV will not set back. She adds, “The viewership of television has increased by 34 per cent during the lockdown. There is a growth of 10 per cent on average daily reach as well as 22 per cent growth in average daily time spent. (Source: BARC| 2+| HSM (U+R)| Wk 12-20’20 vs Wk 1-11’20). With the best of content across our primetime, we want to ensure that our shows act as a great binder that brings families together during this period of social distancing.”

Festive Ad Rates

Traditionally advertising rates on Hindi GECs go up amid the festive season due to an increased number of sponsors and inventory demand. There are a plethora of categories and sponsors who are dynamic on TV only during the festive season. So, TV promotions will increase during this period, but whether it will be as triumphant as yesteryears and will advertisers bet on cricket or GECs - We will have to wait and watch.

Chaudhary believes that IPL’s TV viewership will be higher as compared to previous years, and the advertising rates of Hindi GEC will be slightly impacted. “Whenever the cricket viewership goes up, it impacts GEC. Also, this tournament is only for big players. Average 10-second advertisement rate is Rs 10 to 15 lakhs, and big players put Rs 10 to 15 crore, which will not be possible for small advertisers,” notes Chaudhary.

However, Kathuria concludes that it is aiming to hold up and observe for the advertising rates. As the overall consumer estimation was stifled due to Covid-19, and it has affected the consumer’s wallet.

He adds, “Additionally, given the fact that big properties do not get discounted by Hindi GECs, even if the advertisement rates get impacted, it might not be only due to IPL but also a combination of different factors.”

Kathuria further says that since IPL and the festive season are overlapping, there could be a scenario wherein seasonal/festive advertisers will consider and move some monies to the sporting event instead of GECs (since IPL does affect the viewership of GECs and this year more likely due to working population at home).

However, industry experts note that any impact on Hindi GECs will happen due to covid-19 outbreak that made the global scenario more complex.