The Half-Year That Was-II

04 Jul,2012

By Team MxM

 

Continuing with the feature we carried on July 2 (Link: http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/07/the-half-year-that-was/), we bring in more views from the industry on the six months gone by. This half-yearly report card is again a mixed bag – while some have had an excellent run, others had few hitches on the way. Here’s bringing views from some leading players of the industry.

 

Broadcasting:

Rohit Gupta

Rohit Gupta, President, Sony Entertainment Television

So far, it’s been an excellent year for Sony network. And I’m sure it’s been same for the industry, at large. The industry is still growing and there have been no cuts in spends. People are still putting their money in the medium. I’m sure there is no gloom surrounding this industry. Even the 2008 slowdown didn’t affect us. So, there is nothing to worry about too.

 

 

Sunil Lulla

Sunil Lulla, MD and CEO, Times Television Network

I would say, it has been testing six months for the broadcast industry. The biggest set-back has been the extension of the digitization implementation. The IBF ran a very good campaign for it but since MSOs couldn’t fulfill the requirements, unfortunately it has to be postponed. My advice to the ministry now would be to take strict actions and make sure the new deadline is met. It is important for the industry since it will shape the industry and help us understand it better too.

 

By and large, important events in the broadcast industry like IPL, Indian Idol did well and a new show like Satyamev Jayate was launched. However, there is still a gap between how a show performs and what the viewers really want. Hence, I think TAM needs to be more clear and needs to increase its sample size too.

 

But what really shocked the industry was the new adult timings and ‘A’ restrictions on television. What happened with Dirty Picture’s telecast was regrettable. Nevertheless, after the self regulation imposed by various channels – news and GECs – the quality of content has improved.

 

As from the business point of view, from January till April, it was good; but May onwards the marketers have had a watchful attitude. It might not impact the industry at large, but a certain sections might get affected. Also, given the current economic climate, one will have to keep a very watchful eye for the near future.

 

Prasana Krishnan

Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd

The last six months have been eventful for the broadcast industry. First it was the whole discussion regarding digitization – from notifications to it finally getting delayed. Hopefully, the new deadline will be met as it is positive for the broadcast industry. Also, the new advertising guidelines set by TRAI will make sure that the market doesn’t get diluted.  Such moves will only benefit the industry and help it grow.

 

However, there has been a slowdown in ad sales and revenue generation. Everyone knows what happened during an event like IPL. It is a slow phase right now, but the costs of purchasing rights are still high. So, it won’t be wrong to say that testing times are ahead.

 

K Sriram

K Sriram, GM, Vijay TV

The last 6 months in the Tamil GEC space has seen a dramatic change in programming. KBC travelled into Tamil Nadu and with actor Suriya donning the role of anchor. The barrier between the big screen and television was truly breached for the first time. KBC Tamil ensured that prime time television in TN was redefined, as it not only cut across audiences, but also surged ahead of the power cuts and the IPL fever and eroded into SUN TV’s prime time shares. Vijay TV saw a growth of 41 per cent in the year in a market which was otherwise declining. Content came to the fore.

 

Tamil television also saw the movie acquisition game being taken to another level with Nanban, the hit Tamil adaptation of 3 idiots, being screened within 100 Days on Vijay TV. Another path breaker given that A+ titles before were insulated for a year. Loud and clear in the Tamil GE space – the game just got bigger and in the last 6 months there was only one player playing the game. Competition is sure playing catch up.

 

Marketers:

Harkirat Singh

Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland

The overall market in the branded retail segment has been seeing growth. The biggest change that one sees in this segment is that now the growth comes from smaller towns. In the earlier phase, the growth came from metros; and if one ventured into smaller towns in branded retail say a decade back, most likely, things would not fall in place. Now the risk factor in venturing into the smaller towns is much less and there are many players in branded retail who are turning towards these cities knowing that growth opportunity lies there.

 

For Woodland, last six months have seen steady growth and we intend to open 60 stores this year, though the rider is to expand but be selective. The market, I would say, has been slow. But that is the trend I would say during a particular time of the year where each year business is slow and picks up only later. As for retail, I think the market is vibrant and the sector has been seeing activity and is slated to see increased activity with FDI in retail being relaxed.

 

Vikas Jain

Vikas Jain, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Micromax

For the mobile phone industry there has been no concern about consumption, as the demand for new sets continues to be on rise. The change being that now the customers are well-educated on the mobile sets they want to buy and with change in technology there have been change in the preference on the type of mobile sets. The key, therefore, is to recognize and anticipate the product in demand and meet the needs of consumers. The players need to create a roadmap of the products to be launched rather than get carried away by technological changes. Keep an eye on the changing trends and tweak the launches accordingly.

 

On the flip side, the devaluation of rupee has put pressure on the margins and Micromax being a player that vouches for being cost effective will not yield to increasing prices of the phone sets. As for following any trend on cost cutting on the marketing and communications front, we have not done any. We continue to be associated with Bollywood and Cricket and would associate if any good opportunity came to us.

 

Media Agencies:

 

PM Balakrishna

PM Balakrishna, COO – Allied Media

I think the months of April-May were on par but June was not so great. The feeling is that of a slowdown for sure. But an advertising perspective there is cause for worry. It’s a reflection of the economy not looking good in the past few months with petrol prices seeing a hike, inflation seeing a rise and other such factors. These factors play a part in the way media spends pan out.

 

Where television is concerned there were some properties that did well like the Euro Cup recently and also the IPL before that, but then there are signs of slowdown with advertisers not being too keen to be associated with properties and also with the rates coming down. With Print, which sees ads from sectors like Real Estate and so on, there was a sudden upsurge that was seen in June with most property dealers advertising a lot in dailies and magazines. But that may be a sheer sign of desperation because transactions are not really happening or consumers are not really picking up stocks. There has not been a surge from other sectors as well and they are treading cautiously. So if one were to do a quarter to quarter analysis, one would see that there has been a decline in April-June this year compared to the same quarter last year.

 

As for the revival, what I have observed recently is that clients have been drawing up plans which they might want to unveil soon, probably around the festival season. But I think overall, the growth will meander along in the next quarter also. Probably the last four months of this year may turn out to be good but whether it is enough to offset the slow-burn over the first six months – I am not too sure.

 

Anamika Mehta

Anamika Mehta, COO – Lodestar Universal

Although we are six months into the year, I do not think the industry will record the original projections that were forecasted. We are just into the first quarter and therefore we cannot conclude much but overall some categories are seeing a slowdown. Sectors like real estate and finance have seen a slowdown in the spends but FMCG companies are yet to go slow. They are playing a cautious game though.

 

Also, much of the growth is also the result of the current economic conditions which do not look good at the moment. But it will not be all gloom and doom as is being witnessed in Europe but it will also not be a great story as was being propounded forIndia. Also, one cannot predict the exact figure beyond a point but the approach is going to be that of caution.

 

Sundeep Nagpal

Sundeep Nagpal, MD, Stratagem Media

I would say the media industry in India is already feeling the effects of the economic gloom that has been in the works for some time now. From what I have been given to understand the first quarter of this fiscal has been reasonably difficult. In fact nothing can be said about the trend that will emerge in the next six months as there is some amount of scepticism in the industry. Unfortunately, in our industry fluctuations are happening faster than what we have witnessed before – whether up or down. It takes a lot of deeper understanding and attention to details if one has to figure out what the current media scenario correlates to. Frankly, even I do not have an answer to that. It’s very easy to say that it is dependent on the overall global or Indian outlook but that is too macro a view to attribute to. If I was a media planner, I would be looking at ways to look out for the early signals and accordingly find out the relevant methods to adopt. Overall, the industry may just about see a decline in its growth numbers for 2012 than what was originally anticipated.

 

Advertising:

 

Arvind Sharma

Arvind Sharma, Chairman, Indian Subcontinent, Leo Burnett

As the GDP numbers have been showing a slowdown, one can see that it is getting reflected in the advertising spends too. While at peak the advertising industry was showing a growth of 25 per cent, it would be somewhere around 7 per cent in the first half of 2012. At individual agency level, while we have seen a growth on 40 per cent in 2010 and 25 per cent in 2011, in the first half of 2012 we would see a growth of around 15 per cent. But I think at an individual agency level we still can manage fairly good growth as India has close to Rs35,000 crore advertising expenditure hence the need of the hour is to get aggressive and lay claim to the bigger pie from that budget. This will happen from organic growth from current clients to acquiring new businesses. This growth will also come from making our offering robust.

 

If one were to look at growth, then in our case, I would say that we have seen growth from our existing clients but growth from new clients or from new major initiatives have been significantly less. However, I would say that the mood currently is to be cautious.

 

PR:

 

NS Rajan

NS Rajan, Managing Director, Ketchum Sampark

While we have grown by about 20 per cent in the first half, we are witnessing headwinds gathering across various sectors which can in turn affect growth in these segments and consequently the PR business in the second half.

 

Also margins could be under pressure in the coming months as the increased cost of servicing may not be compensated by incremental revenues unless the economic environment changes significantly which can lift up sentiment.

 

[To be Concluded]

 

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