By Ananya Bhardwaj
A huge industry by itself, the Indian silver screen has thousands of programmes in India. The small screen has produced numerous celebrities of its own, some even attaining national fame and entertainment. BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India, the country’s TV viewership monitoring agency, has declared its estimates for audience size and television penetration, saying the medium now is watched by 780 million citizens in the South Asian nation.
What is the industry’s take?
Partho Dasgupta, CEO at BARC India, says, “The TV universe in India is ever growing and changing and so is the profile and choice of a TV viewer. The last survey done was in 2013 and the last Census was in 2011. The consumer and viewer landscape is changing rapidly with electrification, prosperity, changing modes of signal and digitisation.“
It is true that the picture is not quite rosy for the television industry. What was once the common pastime has now become a vastly complex and often problematic aspect of the modern family life. Instead of limited variety channels, there are hundreds of channels with a wide range, catering to different age groups. The increased channels consequently mean that there are fewer opportunities for an entire family to sit down and enjoy a show together. Watching TV programmes has become more of a solitary activity and lesser shared time means that parents are now unable to monitor what their kids and youth are watching at various times of the day.
Monitoring impact of advertisements now harder
Almost half of adults who are 22 to 45 years old are watching practically no content on traditional TV platforms, according to a recent study by Omnicom Media Group agency, Hearts & Science. Instead, this 47% is viewing TV content and video on streaming platforms that didn’t exist as late as the series premiere of CBS’s “NCIS“. That doesn’t mean they aren’t watching TV content or even that they aren’t seeing ads. They’re just consuming it in places where ad models vary, audiences are scattered, and measurement is harder.
“It’s pretty scary,” says Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn, referring to the group as “unreachable” by marketers. “We are not reaching young audiences effectively, just over-indexing on older viewers on TV.” Marketers have to think creatively not only to reach millennials and baby boomers, but also to make the most of it when they do, according to Hagedorn. “We are headed toward a creative wake-up call,” he says. “If most of this content is being consumed in-app, we need to think more about the utility of advertising here.“
Nielsen predicted TV viewing for decades, but the abundance of new platforms, viewing habits, devices, and ad models have complicated everything considerably. While Nielsen has the means to measure many of these non-traditional platforms, roll-out has been hampered by the major boost it requires from TV networks and other content providers.
Viewing trends are broken down by demographic
Less than one-third of the TV and video watched by millennials and Gen Xers are accounted for by traditional standards, according to the study, which included a survey of about 1,500 people. The rest is being watched in apps on smartphones and streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV.
The long-foreseen death of TV may be happening right before our eyes, but at a gradual and glacial rate. A new in-depth report from certain surveys shows that TV is still by far most countries’ favourite entertainment pastime. However, individually, we are spending more hours surfing the internet and viewing streaming services. A larger number of households are choosing to dump TV altogether.
Less than 2% of 18-34-year-olds changed the channel during commercials, compared with 5.5% of 35-54-year-olds and more than 8% of viewers 55 and older. Given their connectedness with other devices, however, millennials had the lowest program engagement and lowest ad memorability scores during the studied shows.
Knowing that audiences, including millennials, will opt to skip advertising if, given the choice, content providers often remove ad-skipping features in their VOD content. Although, in terms of openness to advertising, millennials are quite agreeable to viewing ads as long as the content they are viewing is free on their mobile devices. As a result, marketers and advertisers have a brilliant opportunity to present their value to young viewers who are tapping into the realm of content available handily via their connected devices.
96% of that age group view online video content via social media sites for an average of 11 hours per week. In contrast, only 81% of 13-24-year-olds tune into the TV to watch scheduled programmes, and that too only for around 8 hours per week. 13-24 year-olds are watching 11.3 hours of free online video per week from sites like YouTube.
The same age group is watching 10.8 hours of paid-for (subscription) online video per week, but only catch up with 8.3 hours of scheduled TV per week. 63% of millennials believe television content carries too many commercials, while a much lesser 41% feel the internet carries too many ads.
Tapping into the new market
The youth has gained many more entertainment options in barely the last few years than most adults have seen yet thanks to the exponential growth of smartphone and tablet ownership. While most elders shaped their TV rituals long back, 15-year-olds today will have just faint recollections of life before the advent of gadgets like the iPhone in 2007. They have experienced childhood in a universe of screens, online video channelled by broadband and portable applications. Enhancing web speeds, both at home and while roaming, are otherwise most likely assuming a part.
Also, Indian teleserials have no defined seasons. They run endlessly, mostly for years, with several re-runs offering repeats. This is unlike the US, where episodes are generally not repeated and need to be recorded or watched elsewhere. Another limiting factor is that broadband availability at home is still not widespread. An exception in this regard is sports, which has a strong online following. “Today, six out of the top 10 videos watched on YouTube are television shows from different channels,” said Gautam Anand, Director (content partnerships) for Asia-Pacific at Google India.
It is thus clear that television moguls need to take note of the fact that the youth is dependable now more than ever on their portable devices, like mobiles, tablets, and laptops for almost all entertainment and other purposes. The demographic has significantly changed and there is a need to adapt to the same.
Featured Image Credits: Visualhunt
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