Looking Back at the last 11 Years

12 Sep,2022



By Indrani Sen


Indrani SenThe second decade of the twenty-first century was perhaps the most eventful phase in the history of the Indian M&E industry, where Indian media played a significant part in transforming Indian economy. When www.mxmIndia was launched in 2011, Indian the M&E industry had just come out of the effects of the economic slowdown of 2008-09 and a new beginning, the start of a digital metamorphosis was looming large on its horizon. Marketers and advertisers were looking forward to the implementation of the Digital Addressable System (DAS) which would transform the regional footprints of the TV channels to national; the only glitch was the delay in execution of Phase 3 of FM Radio.


The three totally different events of 2011 which sums up the whole year beautifully are: the Indian Cricket Team winning the Cricket World Cup which was celebrated across all households in India; the anti-corruption campaign started by Anna Hazare which flooded the country as a movement and last but not the least: the release of the song Kolaveri Di which broke all records by going viral on the first day of its release. All these incidents had one common thread: the power of mass media, both traditional and digital.


In 2012, the digital metamorphosis continued and dream of reaching and engaging with the significantly diverse, one billion strong Indian customers became a reality. The theme for the FICCI Frames 2013 conclave was ‘A Tryst with Destiny: Engaging a Billion Consumers’. However, a global slowdown of economic growth affected the Indian market and advertising expenditure again took a dip. A grewsome incident of rape resulted in the ‘Nirbhaya’ protest movement followed by women’s safety campaigns across traditional and social media and gained widespread awareness and support. The social issues were the main focus of the year 2012, supported by the TV programme Satyamev Jayate; movies like OMG and Vicky Donor; campaigns like Lead India and Teach India, all highlighted various social issues and proved again the power of mass media, both traditional and digital.


In 2013, it was clear that “the Stage is set” for the gradual process of triumph of digital media (which has been around since 1995) though all the traditional media ranging from television to newspapers to films to radio to outdoor continued to connect with various touchpoints in the lives of the Indian consumers. The roll out of DAS in Phase I and II cities were largely completed by December 2013 and the process of digitisation across the sub-sectors of the M & E industry continued but monetising the digital content remained a challenge.  Sony Liv and Ditto TV (ZEE) were launched in 2013 marking the beginning of the OTT explosion in India.


The next year – 2014 – saw a new government at the centre after a successful general election followed by a marked positive shift in investor’s interest for investing in India. However, in the domestic market there were various unresolved issues like implementation of DAS as the deadline for completing the implementation in Phase III and Phase IV cities got extended to December 2015 and December 2016 respectively. Still, the FICCI KPMG Report was optimist about the future growth of M&E industry and estimated the industry to grow from INR 1026 billion in 2014 to INR 1964 billion in 2019 a CAGR of 13.9% over next five years.


A new era of TV ratings began in India with BARC releasing its first report in April 2015 and by the end of the year they announced their intention of reporting rural TV ratings which would later change the hierarchy of TV channels. Print, which had the largest share of advertising revenue till 2014, finally lost its crown to TV in 2015 (Source FICCI KPMG reports). The entire focus of growth in digital media shifted to the mobile sector as it became absolutely clear that mobile would be the backbone of digital India. Of the 331 internet subscribers, around 200 were mobile internet users. India’s mobile market with over 500 million active subscribers, but had less than 200 million smartphones and low-end phones known as feature phones dominated the market. It also became clear by 2015 that the Central Government had its own rules about allowing criticism of its various policies in mass media. As a result, news media, particularly News TV got clearly aligned to the ruling political party and began taking sides, which was not the characteristics of Indian media.


The year 2016 was marked by the banknote demonetisation at the end of the year which had ripple effects on the entire economy. Jio mobile phone service was launched publicly in September, 2016 which quickly changed the Indian mobile network scenario in the next couple of years. The implementation of GST in 2017 which saw certain adverse effect on the revenue of traditional media. In 2017, the growth in M&E sector was led by digital, film, gaming and events while in TV subscription growth outpaced growth in advertising. Traditional print media began to lose young genres of readers to digital news rapidly.


In 2018 and 2019, the overall growth in M&E sector continued to be led by online gaming and digital. These were two good years for Indian advertising industry. The BJP government at the centre was re-elected in 2019 having a positive impact on trade and commerce.  The last Indian Readership Survey was released in 2019 showing TV reached 77% of Indians above 12 years of age against 37% reached by newspapers. However, towards the end of 2019, the whole world saw a new pandemic, Covid-19, which shook up economies and affected business growth across all countries. In India, the National Lockdown declared at a short notice by the Prime Minister towards the end of March 2020, severely affected all business sectors and M&E industry also suffered severely. Indian Print media, which was heavily dependent on the last mile delivery by hawkers, was impacted hugely.


In 2020, we saw the beginning of the work from home culture, which changed the consumption pattern across media almost overnight. The viewing of content on OTT platforms went up significantly turning the linear TV viewing scenario upside down. Print continued to struggle with both subscription and advertising revenues. Event industry had a most severe setback followed by outdoor, cinema and radio.  The severe degrowth of all traditional media however did not get extended to digital media and online gaming. At the end of the year, it was found that M&E sector performed much worse than Indian economy and it was estimated that it will take 2 to 5 years for traditional media to get back their pre-pandemic advertising revenue of 2019.


In 2021, the M&E industry regained some of its lost business, but the second and the third waves of Covid-19 did not allow proper growth of the sector. The current year, 2022 promises to be a better year with PMAR and TYNY respectively predicting 20% and 22% growth in total advertising revenue. Advertising and Media agencies also are bullish about their business growth. The agency sector had a tough time during the last decade with stress on margins and commissions. Another trend which became prevalent over the last 11 years was large agencies acquiring or tying up with smaller specialised agencies, even promising start ups. Talent and training have become two issues with agencies in spite of the mushrooming of MBA institutes teaching advertising and media.


It is doubtful if we will see another such eventful and colourful decade of ups and downs in M&E industry in the near future. www.mxmindia.com has been closely associated with this interesting phase and has flourished as a platform for exchange of independent views and opinions over the last 11 years. I am proud to be associated with website since 2016.


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