- Whether it was surviving the second wave or breaking viewership records during Diwali, 2021 was a rollercoaster year for the television industry.
- Broadcasters spent the first half of 2021 recovering from the impact of multiple lockdowns but the festive season helped the industry get back on its feet.
- As we move forward this year, a few industry experts tell us about new opportunities that 2022 will bring forth for the broadcast industry.
As the lockdown restrictions eased in the country, GECs resumed their production in phases and the great advertising carnival of IPL brought the much-needed cheer for the broadcast industry and consumers in September. The year 2020, undoubtedly, had a far-reaching impact on consumer behaviour and their viewing patterns changed in 2021. Despite economic challenges that were accelerated with the second wave of COVID-19, legacy advertisers continued to increase spends on TV and starts-up were the biggest advertisers on IPL 2021.
The second wave did take the industry a step back but television recovered gracefully as the festive season began in August. As per BARC, Ad Volumes on TV for September 2021 was the highest since 2019, which was 15%. The highest spurt was observed for Bhojpuri language channels, where ad volumes were more than double that of 2019, and 38% higher than in 2020. While Hindi language channels account for the largest share of TV advertising, Tamil and Telugu language channels witnessed robust growth over 2020.
At the same time, with new changes in viewing patterns after the pandemic, over-the-Top platforms also posed a big threat to television viewership. However, broadcast players started realigning their goals, understanding these changing patterns and adopting agile approaches for content development. As a result, broadcasters have been working towards tailor-making their content that is adept to multiple platforms’ front-end user interfaces. This approach accelerated digital transformation in the broadcast industry by a few years and helped us believe that television and digital are indeed capable of growing hand-in-hand in India. This trend will continue to take shape further in 2022 as well.
So as we move forward this year, the broadcast industry is optimistic about rising to its full strength together. We spoke to a few industry experts to discuss what lies ahead. Here’s what they said:
Abhishek Dutta, South Asia Network Head, POGO and Cartoon Network:
Homegrown kids’ content is definitely the one trend to watch out for. In 2021, WarnerMedia India’s kids’ entertainment channels, Cartoon Network and POGO launched several successful shows that celebrate Indian flavors as relevant localized content continues to hold sway among Indian viewers. According to FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report (March 2021), regional languages will make up 60% of television consumption by 2025. This has dictated our strong hold on the pulse of the Indian audience and is reflected in our continued investment in homegrown content. This trend also means there is a massive opportunity for the wider animation industry sector in India – from creation and production to developing talent.
Our fans-first strategy has shaped the “glocal” approach to our kids’ business in India. One that is focused on world-class animation and relatable stories. 100% homegrown shows and international content localized to suit Indian viewing preferences will continue to rule the roost.
Anu Sikka, Head of Content Creation, Channel Strategy & Research at Kids Cluster,
Engaging viewers in a language they best understand is essential in order to deliver great experiences. As content creators, it is important to narrate stories in a way that young dynamic minds can understand, relate and build a strong affinity. In India, with an exponential growth in the consumption of regional language content, viewers are keen on engaging with the characters in a language of their choice, thereby leading to larger brand visibility and deeper engagement levels. An increase in multi-lingual content will be the key driver for growth in the television industry. Curating multi-lingual content will lead to audiences developing an unbreakable bond with the storyline and its characters and further strengthen the relationship with the brand.
Ruchir Tiwari, Cluster Head - Hindi Movie Channels, ZEEL:
In 2021, there was a lot of acceleration because of the pandemic in terms of content consumption. It is evident in the way many billions of Indians have consumed long form content, multi-language content. Predominantly for the Indian market, expectations of the audience are very, very clear. What this is going to do is force all content makers to make good content. I think, right now, whatever the ratio of good content is -- the success rate was never very high because good content is a complex game plan. Now, 2022, it will be an opportunity as well as a challenge to the content creators to make compelling content and then the creators will start from this point of personal development. For me, compelling good content is a must have. Without that, there is no way out and that's the biggest opportunity we all have as an industry.
Simran Hoon, CEO, The Q:
With the hyper-dynamic market confusion and change in viewers’ preference, the manner and method of storytelling has gained prominence. Innovation in storytelling is hence the need of the hour and this will be one of the strongest trends that will emerge in the coming year. GEC’s will have to re-strategize to showcase content that is not just original and relevant but also interactive and engagement-driven.
Another trend for 2022 is how content on Television is viewed. TV will be seen as a medium of entertainment and not ‘the destination.’ The Q has been an early adopter of this trend and has built itself in a unique style with our multi-platform availability.
Anshul Ailawadi, Business Head – Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18:
While 2021 was about optimism and perseverance, 2022 will be about taking bold bets and experimenting with content. The last 2 years have accelerated several shifts in consumer preferences and habits. Creators are now focussing on different feedback loops as markers of success instead of conventional viewership metrics. Content is being consumed in so many ways, it’s hard to assess (accurately) the potential of a story at the time of greenlighting it. We will see new concepts, new storylines and new faces across genres as age-old rules are tested, and at times, even broken.