Coronavirus impact: What's next for the TV industry?

Authored by Samarjeet Reen, Chief Strategy Officer, Update Geotarget.

Most of us in the M&A industry would be privy to some interesting recent data available (Nielsen-BARC, Kantar) on the pre and post Covid-19 lockdown viewership, ad insertions, and consumption patterns per category.

What is clear is, Sports, Reality TV, and GECs have been directly impacted, as there is no new content/ viewership. Naturally, News is most watched, as would be the case when there is lack of information, uncertainty and fear.

However, the data also tells us, during the lockdown, TV viewership, TSV (time spent per viewer) and weekly viewing has gone up. Household reach has gone up, as more households are tuning in. Non-primetime viewership is up, as more household members are home with no outdoor activity.

Movie content viewership on TV, both Regional and Hindi, is up as well. This could be attributed to cinemas being shut, and lack of alternative fresh content for entertainment.

There has also been a significant uptick in regional programming viewership, which is why regional advertising is high. Regional advertising also helps brands with multilingual communication and hyperlocal targeting.

Now, on Ad revenues, our view is that Ad budgets would be impacted in the short term. Apart from essentials, very few transactions are happening. Companies and Brands will focus on survival, improving immediate term cash flows, and ensuring employees are safe and secure.

That being said, it is never a good idea to go Ad-Dark. Well regarded studies show that going away from one’s well planned ad campaign could severely impact the Brand’s health, especially the long-term impact, and the claw-back for Top-of-Mind share can be very challenging.

Even post lockdown, we are quite certain that there will be a new normal, with lesser outdoor activities and entertainment. There will be an economic impact at household level, with lower disposable incomes. In this scenario, TV is a cheap delivery mechanism for information and entertainment.

This is a time where people are consuming a lot of content that is local, regional, non-primetime, and there is inventory available on more reasonable TV and Cable TV channels and genres. This reflects in the regional viewership numbers as well, which are high.

Apart from Satellite channels, there are around 1500 cable movie channels, and 400 local news channels, with locally curated and fresh content and information. Cable Movie channels have very fresh content, and local news is very important to viewers right now. There is plenty of inventory available there with a highly engaged local and regional audience.

Advertisers and Brands will need to align their campaign strategy to operate in this new normal. Brand Managers would be well placed if they use this opportunity to build trust, help service their customers better, and improve their emotional quotient in the mind of the consumer.

While it is true that the TV and media industry is undergoing a very serious shock to the system, with some channels/ genres struggling, data tells us that viewership and reach is high during this period. There will be a shift in content consumption, and advertisers will look for those channels where they find engaged audiences.

Whether the TV industry will be severely impacted? Our view is, not at all. The large format AV medium, or TV as we know it, has been a favourite among advertisers and shall continue to be the top medium for brand awareness and customer engagement.


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