Games on, but GECs not worried

18 Jun,2012

 

By Meghna Sharma

 

The UEFA Euro Cup has made the Europeans forget all about the economic crisis; London, along with the whole world, is eagerly waiting for the world’s biggest sporting event – the Olympics – to begin. The world is buzzed about the various sporting events coming up in the next few months.

 

Sports, around the globe, generate a major interest and channels – sports or otherwise – fight each other out for viewership and advertisements, and brands try to out-do each other through advertisements and activations to leave a mark on the public’s mind.

 

The last event of such a stature in India was the recently concluded IPL which saw the entertainment channels fighting for eyeballs. With the next three-four months choc-o-bloc with sporting events, MxMIndia takes a look at how channels in the country are gearing up.

 

Event Period Channel
UEFA Euro Cup June 8- July 1 Neo Prime
Wimbledon June 25-July 8 Star Sports
India-SL series July 22- Aug 7 Ten Cricket
Olympics July 27-Aug 12 DD/ESPN or Star Sports

Time to worry?

According to the media planners, for GECs and other channels, there is nothing to worry about. “Non-cricket fare is still appealing to a small niche segment and hence, its popularity is not reflected in ratings. India in the months of Jul-Aug has always been a moderate performer and not as high profile as some others and so this will also not have a major impact,” feels Shubha George, COO -South Asia, MEC.

 

Suresh Balakrishnan

And she is not alone. Suresh Balakrishnan, CEO, Brand Programming Network, agreed with her and added that though cricket is more than a sport in India, even IPL, which has both cricket as well as entertainment and was telecast at primetime, hasn’t been able to affect channels, especially the GECs in the recent past. “Lately, IPL has been able to get a rating of 2-3 which has hardly affected any GECs, so I’m sure other sports won’t matter to them at all. However, there is no denying the fact that viewership for other sports is increasing in the country. And major events might be able to at least reach the ratings which cricket gets, in the coming years.”

 

Mr Balakrishnan, however, feels that sports channels don’t have much to worry about as there are many male-focussed brands which help them generate enough ad revenue. “Having said that, I also feel that channels showing sports other than cricket know that recovering money isn’t an easy task,” he added.

 

The television behaviour showcases the interest of the masses which obviously tilts towards popular entertainment channels. However, most media planners agree that sports viewership is growing in the country and soon things might change but until then channels will have to make do with what they have/get.

 

Amin Lakhani

Amin Lakhani, principal partner, Mindshare said: “All leading newspapers and news channels have special coverage of important events, take Euro Cup for instance, but how much of it is being converted into viewership or readership? Even then, that hasn’t deferred them from covering the events because they know that, though tiny, there is a loyal following. Even brands are doing activations for sports which are gaining popularity in other sectors apart from Sec A&B – Pepsi is doing activations for football.”

 

Business as usual

Akash Chawla

Entertainment channels continue to enjoy the largest share in the viewership pie. Although, they continue to compete with each other, when it comes to other genres, nothing has been able to write them off.

 

Akash Chawla, Zee Entertainment Enterprise (ZEEL) marketing head – national channels, said: “Just like IPL, we are ready to combat any other sporting event. Our programming strategy does not depend on these events.”

 

“For us, it will be business as usual. The channel is backed with strong and fresh content for its viewers, irrespective of the programming on competing genres,” said Hemal Jhaveri, general manager, Movies Ok.

 

Hemal Jhaveri

Other genres which focus on the same target audience as the sports channels are youth and news. But many in these genres believe that such sporting events don’t affect their viewership. Nikhil Gandhi, executive director, youth channels, media networks, Disney UTV claimed that most of the sporting events attract a majority viewership of urban youth, whereas they, as channels, focus on the HSM belt which includes 62 cities. Hence, such sporting events won’t affect their viewership.

 

A broadcast veteran from a Delhi-based news channel too felt that news channels give enough coverage to the various sporting events, so there is no question that the events might eat into their viewership pie. He said that though both cater to the same TG, they are different genres and people might shift between the two, if needed.

 

Nikhil Gandhi

On the other hand, Neo Prime, the sports channel which is currently telecasting UEFA Euro Cup 2012, is aware of the competition within and between other genres and risk involved, but is still optimistic. “Sports is still a male-dominated genre, whereas other genres (read GECs) enjoy female viewership. But during big events, there are chances of a shift in the remote control. Sports do get eyeballs. And as for the advertisements, the brands which advertise on sports channels are different from the ones in GECs or other channels. Hence, nothing overlaps each other,” said Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports Broadcast.

 

Prasana Krishnan

Hopefully, as said by various media personalities, sports other than cricket in the coming years will be able to generate same interest among Indian citizens across sections and help sports channel to boom and enter the main TRP race as well.

 

 

 Imaging: Rafiq, Pictures courtesy: London2012.com

 

 

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