Broadcasters looking at a scenario of a hugely constricted content pipeline, say experts
The GECs have learnt from the severe disruption faced in producing fresh content due to the COVID-19 first wave and nationwide lockdowns last year. With shootings coming to a halt last year, GECs ran out of fresh content within days and had to re-run old shows – a situation that was never faced by the Indian broadcast industry ever before. As the country battles with a far more devastating second wave of COVID-19 infections, lockdowns and curfews have been imposed in several states again. However, amid all these, shootings are going on in cities that have been spared strict COVID-19 rules, albeit within specially created bio-bubbles.
Recently, choreographer and show judge Geeta Kapur took to social media to give a glimpse of the shoot going on for dance reality show ‘Super Dancer’ in a bio bubble created in Daman. Until some time back, Goa was the destination for all film, TV and web series shoots as entire Maharashtra went into lockdown. However, with rising COVID-19 cases in Goa and the subsequent lockdown imposed, that venue was out of bounds for the programme producers.
This time, broadcasters are taking alternate measures and continuing with the shoots amid severe challenges. Several GECs have announced new shows and also new seasons of their popular shows. Sony Entertainment Television is gearing for the return of its marquee show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ for Season 11, as well as dance reality show ‘India’s Best Dancer Season 2’. Participants of reality show ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ have been putting up behind the scenes images on social media. Shooting for this show, which airs on Colors, is currently on in South Africa’s Cape Town.
Moreover, the suspension of IPL Season 14 mid-way has opened up the primetime viewership slot for the GECs, which do not have any other sporting property to compete with. Will the GECs be able to capitalise on this?
Speaking about the ground realities, Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogaé Group, and Managing Director, Rediffusion, said, “The GECs have mostly run dry on content banking. So, the premature closure of the IPL has really not benefited the GECs very much.”
Speaking along a similar vein, Keerat Grewal, Partner, Ormax Media, noted, “The post-IPL period would have typically seen new shows getting announced across GECs. However, even with IPL 2021 getting suspended mid-way, there is no real cheer for GECs, since the second wave has affected their shoots, which have had to be shifted out of Maharashtra. The channels have their hands full with this and we are looking into a scenario of a hugely constricted content pipeline, as is reflected in no announcement of any new launches till now, barring one from Sony.”
As far as the advertisers are concerned, who suddenly find themselves with the monies to spare that they had allocated for IPL 14, Goyal felt that the clients had little choice “between a rock and a hard place”. He added, “As it is, this may not actually be such a bad thing. Retail is affected; most cities are in virtual lockdown. So, advertising would not have helped brands in any case. Maybe, it is best for all to live out this current hiatus.”
Grewal pointed out, “For most brands, IPL is a separate part of their annual ad budgets, hence it is likely that these brands will reserve the spends and use them once normalcy is restored. While some monies will get diverted to GECs, it is likely to be a very small amount of the total IPL spends. Also, given the impact of the second wave on businesses, ad spends across board are likely to see a drop.”