Post-festive AdEx on GECs will see a growth this year, predicts TV industry

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Industry leaders are optimistic that the growth momentum will continue post festive season, with December likely to witness high single-digit growth over the same period last year

Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, TV witnessed a huge growth during the festive season compared to the previous year. As per the TAM AdEx data, it shot up by 19 per cent during August- November 2020 over last year on the back of the festive fervour, IPL 13 and some impactful properties launched by General Entertainment Channels (GECs) such as Bigg Boss, KBC and Indian Idol. But with the festive season as well as the hugely popular IPL over now, the question that is playing on everyone’s mind is: Whether GECs will continue to witness the same momentum in the coming months?

Interestingly, in the past, the category has always seen a lull in the spendings post the festive period, and this year won’t be any different. However, industry experts are hopeful that this December will be relatively better than the previous year. Also, the India-Australia series roping in15 sponsors will add weightage to the overall growth.

Ashish Sehgal, Chief Growth Officer – Advertisement Revenue, ZEEL, agrees that growth in this December will be relatively better than the previous year and estimates that it could be 5-7 per cent. “The AdEx growth looks better than last year. It won’t be fair to compare December with October and November as it’s the month that usually witnesses low spending (by advertisers). But we are hopeful that it will be better than last year. There should be growth over the last financial year for the same month. It’s difficult to predict but it could be anywhere in the range of 5-7%,” he says.

Seven months back when the first national lockdown hit the nation owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, the industry was not sure how and when the overall AdEx will revive. However, with the gradual easing of the lockdown, both the consumer and advertiser sentiments have bounced back strongly.

Mahesh Shetty, Head- Network Sales, Viacom18, points out that the festive season has been good across the board this year. “Initially, we were not sure how IPL would impact GECs and other genres, but fortunately, the overall AdEx has been strong and IPL did not have any negative impact. Earlier this month, the question on everyone’s mind was if the momentum will continue post- Diwali? And I am happy to share that the momentum has continued. For all key channels across networks, the ad volume and demand has been strong. And I expect this trend to continue for the next month as well,” he adds.

Shetty explains that Q2 results of most large advertisers have been encouraging with impressive sales growths. The outlook is positive for the coming quarters. He isn’t expecting a drop (in AdEx) if the same period is compared over the previous year. He predicts, “December is likely to witness a high single-digit growth this year.”

As per the TAM data, the month of October witnessed the maximum number of new categories, advertisers and brands as compared to September and November. The new categories include petroleum jelly, e-commerce, cold cream, washing machines. LG Electronics India, Almond Board of California and Ferrero India were among the new top 10 advertisers. Moreover, Colgate Zigzag Anti-Bacterial, Amazon Echo and Lakme Cushion Matte Lipstick were the top three advertising brands in October.

Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer of 9X Media, adds, “The backbone of the TV industry i.e. the FMCG has come back. They have started picking up and they are at 80-90% of last year’s growth. They have continued spending and shown tremendous growth every month in terms of spends and I think it will continue as the market has opened up and there is a demand.”

Also, IPL 2020 raking in over Rs 2,500 crore of advertising revenue for Star India indicates marketers’ growing appetite to spend. The trend of new categories of advertisers pouring in money on TV is expected to continue whether it’s IPL or no IPL. The year has been subdued for majority of the marketers and it is assumed that they, too, will start spending more in the coming months.

Jailkhani explains, “FMCG will propel the growth for us in the next four months. Secondly, the long-tail clients like SMEs, retail and medium spenders have not been spending much nationally. I am expecting them to come back now and that will add a lot of value to the AdEx in the coming months. If nothing unusual happens now then we will come in a big way in three-four months.”

Sharing similar thoughts, Vaishali Verma, CEO, Initiative, says that in the past, GECs have always got affected during IPL. But this year, GECs might have been slightly impacted in terms of viewership, but not on the advertising demand front. “This period looks good from an advertising perspective. A lot of sectors like e-commerce, e-wallets, auto, financial clients, tech-platform and edu-tech are looking at November- December spends and planning campaigns around the same timeframe,” says Verma.

She further adds, “India- Australia cricket series was a surprise. It will add a lot of dollars to the November-December spends. The AdEx should definitely be at par with last year or slightly more on the back of sports for this time period.”

With the end of IPL, the focus now is more on GECs and on the next bilateral (cricket) series. During the festive period, TV witnessed new show launches which will continue in the next month as well. Some of the existing key properties on GECs in the non-fiction space are ‘Bigg Boss’ on Colors, ‘KBC’ and ‘Indian Idol’ on Sony TV and ‘Taare Zameen Par’ on Star Plus etc.

Vinita Pachisia, Senior Vice President, Carat also expects growth in December, “Due to the pandemic, the second and third quarter of this year saw lower spends, so December might just see some growth, and it could also be due to the impact properties continuing for that month. The spends will not be as high as October-November unless there is a brand launch.”

The pattern is going to mirror the post-Diwali trend year after year of a cyclical lull, points out Mansi Datta, Managing Partner- Wavemaker India.

“Many shows in GECs are expected to be low on inventory. However, key marquee properties are seeing interest from advertisers and those are experiencing demand. In fact, some key non- fiction shows have seen more-or-less the same level of advertiser as that of IPL.GECs are expecting FMCG, essential and financial categories to consume most of the inventory in this period with the advertisers spending more money than the same period of last year,” said Datta.

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