2020: Halfway There… Halfway More To Go!

26 Jun,2020

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

In case you have not realiSed, we are halfway through this terrible year already. Where do we go from here? That’s the question on everyone’s minds. The pandemic has brought with it an unprecedented level of uncertainty. A lot of discussions these days feature a line that goes: “It will take another X months”. The value of X, varies from 2 to 24, depending on the subject matter of the discussion and the optimism level of the speaker. Predictions in these times are tough, if not futile. But I’d hazard a few anyway.

 

An oft-asked question is: When will theatres reopen nationally so that big Hindi films can be released? I’d say October 2020. Delhi (and not Mumbai) could be one of the last markets to open the theatres. Till both Mumbai AND Delhi are open, new films releasing seems out of question. Theatres will open with ample safety measures and restrictions, and the audience will take their time to make that visit. Sooryavanshi releasing on Christmas 2020, is my other forecast in this regard.

 

Another commonly-asked question is: When will content production begin like before? This is a lot more complex one to predict, because “like before” will surely have to wait for the vaccine to be available globally. Till then, shoots will restart, but don’t be surprised to see dodgy make-up, empty frames with less characters, no foreign locations, and visually-disorienting content in general.

 

Another popular one is: Will IPL happen this year? I’d predict that it indeed will, but without crowds and in a curtailed format. The T20 World Cup in Australia in Oct-Nov 2020 is likely to get moved to 2020 (there’s the next edition in India next year anyway), and that slot should pave way for IPL to happen. It could be an event restricted to two or three cities, but with no spectators and ticket sales, that wouldn’t matter much anyway. ThE business models will have to be reworked, but given what’s at stake, BCCI and Star will be extremely keen to hold the event in some capacity, than skip an edition altogether.

 

Then there is the larger question about the recovery of the economy: Will the Diwali festive season see regular levels of adspends and consumption, perhaps (as some suggest) on a rebound? Here, I’d go with a sCeptical view. The general public is quite tentative, and expecting festivity levels anywhere close to normal in the bigger cities is certainly ruled out. The economic pressure adds to the fear of the pandemic, and while people may start going out a bit, the festive mood will take another year to be revived. I’d expect at least 60% drop in ad revenue in the traditional media (TV, print, radio, OOH, etc.) in the festive season this year vis-à-vis last year.

 

The way it looks, the second half of the year will continue to be one of uncertainty and very slow recovery. Patience is a prized virtue to have in these times. Hold on to it!

 

 

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