Dark Days Ahead for Adspends

20 Apr,2020


By Indrani Sen


Last week, KPMG released a report titled “Covid-19: The Many Shades of a Crisis” trying to provide stakeholders in media and entertainment a perspective of the effects of Covid-19 on M&E sector (https://home.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/in/pdf/2020/04/the-many-shades-of-a-crisis-covid-19.pdf).


The report reviews three alternative scenarios related to the overall performance of Indian economy. The first scenario assumes that the spread of covid-19 would be largely contained by April-May and Indian economy could grow in the range of 5.3-5.7% in FY21. The second scenario assumes that under the shadow of a global recession with a containment of spread of the virus in India, the country could witness 4-4.5% growth for FY21. The third scenario assumes a proliferation of the virus in India accompanied by a global recession, GDP growth could fall below 3%. However, the report does not throw any light on how the three alternative scenarios may affect the M&E sector in different ways.


The title “The many shades of a crisis” relates to how Covid-19 has affected the different segments in the M&E sector. The graphical presentation of their assessment (shown below) raises some doubts regarding the parameters used for making the assessment, particularly in relation to traditional media where print has been shown as having low impact against television having medium impact.


Source: KPMG Report “COVID 19: The many shades of a crisis”


While BARC data is showing a week-on-week increase in TV consumption, at the same time there is de-growth of advertising revenue leading to slowing down of monetisation with additional crisis of production of new content /episodes of the serials. KPMG has predicted for TV “slow ad spend recovery in medium term with long term risk due to digital competition”.

On the other hand, KPMG has predicted “a new lease of life” for print riding on the credibility of the printed words against proliferation of fake news in social media and has advised print media to “leverage positive consumer segment and build strong digital products to capture the opportunity”. This advisory ignores the current scenario related to printing and distribution of hard copies of newspapers and the various hurdles which they may face in recovering their circulation and readership post COVID 19. It is difficult to agree with KPMG’s views that the impact of COVID 19 will be less on print than on television.


Animation sector also has been hit severely as work from home poses a challenge to implementation of the tools and techniques which are difficult to access from home of the individual illustrators. High fixed costs and high investment costs of the animation sector clubbed with cancellation/ postponement of contracts have created a serious cash flow crisis.


The impact on radio also has been quite high as there is a loss of listenership due to lack of travel and work from home. Many advertising campaigns on FM radio are linked with activation and events at various social gatherings which have been as badly affected as the events sector. KPMG agrees that ad spends on radio will take time to recover and assures that demand for timely localised content should remain high even after the recovery from the virus. Given the restriction on production of news content by FM radio, they can do very little to satisfy the demand for timely localised content during lockdown and after removal of lockdown.


KPMG shows that Events and film sectors have been badly affected due to social distancing and the OTT and gaming sectors have gained riding on the additional time spent by people at home. KPMG predicts footfalls in cinemas may take a while to return to normalcy and live events may also take longer time to recover as consumers emerge gradually from the social distancing mode. Both OTT and gaming can benefit if the growth in current consumption can be converted to habitual activity.


Summing up, the KPMG report provides the following insights for the M&E sector:


Source: KPMG Report “COVID 19: The many shades of a crisis”


The above themes will play across the M&E value chain impacting supply chain, consumption and monetisation. KPMG apprehends that the gap between India and Bharat in consumption of various goods and services may widen due to the reverse migration from urban areas to rural areas as a result of lockdown and halt in all economic activities. Remote collaboration for creative ideation and scripting may last beyond COVID 19 altering the supply chain management of content creation permanently. Finally as far as monetisation is concerned, KPMG predicts longer timelines for ad spend recovery as the economy would continue to be under stress even after the virus is contained. The slowing down of the economy would have adverse impact on key advertisers in FMCG, auto, e-commerce etc. and they might take longer time to restore their ad spends to the level before the pandemic struck India.


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