The seasonality of the television business is well known, and often talked about, especially in the beginning of a financial year when various stakeholders in the Media ecosystem lay out Annual Plans.
In its latest report Seasonality and TV Trends, BARC India has explored the seasonal Nature of Television viewing by analyzing BARC’s robust viewership data over the past two years and attempted to uncover some trends & insights, which may be of value to these stakeholders in anticipating and formulating annual plans.
In terms of Seasonal Trends it becomes evident that the TV viewing pattern remains consistent quarter on quarter, each year. TV viewing is high in the 4th and 1st quarters, which are typically the Autumn and Winter months, but in the 2nd quarter (Summer) the viewership dips and stays low. This has been the pulse of TV watching in India for the last 2 years, and perhaps previously as well.
Q2 (April-June) of the calendar year is traditionally the least performing quarter, as the viewership is seen to dip during this period. April-June are the peak summer months, and the onset of the holiday season owing to summer vacations in schools and colleges. Another possible explanation could be the increase in power cuts and load shedding in the summer, that could cause a dip in viewership.
As the holiday season ends, viewership starts picking up in Q3 (July-September). The quarter witnessed a growth of 5% in overall TV viewership from 2016 to 2017. This is the highest viewership growth across the four quarters, and may be an ideal time to hook the viewers returning to television after a short hiatus, by debuting new content and programmes.
Q4 (October-December) is the strongest quarter of the year with respect to TV viewership. However, this quarter witnessed the least growth of 1% in 2017 over the same quarter in 2016. A lot of special, festive programming occurs in this quarter in lieu of Diwali, Christmas, New Year, and hence viewership may be maxed out in this season.
Its is also observed that viewership spikes at regular intervals across the year. Most of these spikes can be attributed to weekly growth in viewership on weekends, especially on Sundays.
A specific look at the historic viewership graph for weekdays to identify any trends has revealed that most viewership spikes that occur on a weekday can be attributed to a festival or a public holiday. Historically, holidays of National significance i.e. Republic Day and Independence Day witness significantly high TV viewership. During the other holidays, especially those that achieved above average viewership, it can be said that holidays that fall mid-week typically witness better TV viewership than those that fall on a long weekend i.e. Monday or a Friday.
Strategic input for Stakeholders:
There may be a great opportunity here for broadcasters to hook viewers on long weekends with a cohesive programming strategy spread across 3 – days which would impel the viewers to tune into television to watch the channel/ programme on all days of the long weekend.
A look in to the TV Viewership by Zones revealed that all geographic zones- North, South, East and West exhibit similar TV viewing patterns round the year.
Audiences in South India consume the maximum television throughout the year, as is visible from the high impressions contributed by the South zone to Total TV viewership across both years. AP/ Telangana and TN/ Pondicherry have consistently been in the top 3 markets across all state markets in the country, along with Maharashtra/ Goa. High TV penetration in these states is also an important factor which may have driven high viewership in said markets.
TN/ Pondicherry market saw an increase in TV viewership in the latter half of 2016, on the back of ex-CM Jayalalitha’s health crisis & subsequent political unrest. This increase bumped up the All India viewership as well, indicating that viewership in this market is more likely to fluctuate with the severity of events
Viewership and Temperature
A unique attempt by mapping the average daily temperature with the viewership data across the 6 megacities has revealed that the Temperature andTV Viewership has an inverse relationship.
During winters with Cold Weather, people stay indoors and watch TV, but in summers with warm climate, people would prefer stepping out and engaging in alternate activities for entertainment. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, The frequency of power cuts and load shedding is higher in the summer, which also leads to a dip in TV viewership.
Strategic input for Stakeholders:
Broadcasters can focus new show releases in the Autumn/ fall season. Agencies can purchase Network advertising packages months in advance, anticipating the pulse of viewership basis the seasonality. Advertisers could benefit by creating a unique seasonality segmentation for their brands. Brands can also invest more in TV advertising for their campaigns that are to be scheduled in the months with typically high TV Viewership.
Multiple observations came to light after looking at the trends across genres like GEC, Movies, Kids, Sports, News, Music, Youth, and Infotainment.
GEC: The GEC genre appears to be the biggest genre on television with the highest share of viewership across the timeline. It is a relatively stable genre, with no major fluctuations across the year. Some of the spikes observed can be attributed to the airing of specific events, such as award shows & finale episodes of popular reality shows.
Movies: Movie genre contributes to growth in viewership on weekends with the programming strategy of airing blockbuster movies and Premiers/ World TV Premiers on weekends.
Kids: It is interesting to see that Kids genre continues to receive substantial viewership in comparison to the remaining genres. While some of these viewers may include the older teens, it is also indicative of co-viewership of the older groups along with the kids, as a large percentage (>90%) of TV households in India are single TV homes.
Kids channels could potentially be a good platform for brands to capture the attention of the parents and leverage the pester power of the kids at the same time, especially during the summer vacation months. While most genres see similar seasonal fluctuation patterns, the Kids genre witnesses a substantial increase in viewership during this period as kids are at home and would be spending more time watching television. the Kids genre too exhibits regular viewership spikes due to increased consumption of such channels on a weekend as opposed to a weekday.
The various zones across India have different vacation schedules, and these local trends clearly emerge in the viewership graph. The variance in viewership spikes lines up perfectly with the respective regions’ vacation period shows us the high sensitivity of kids’ viewership to vacations.
Music, Youth & Infotainment: The Music genre has a similar viewership share as that of Kids genre among the 15+ audience. The genre seems to be growing with an upward linear trend. The Youth and Infotainment genres are relatively smaller in comparison to the rest. While the Youth genre seems to be stable and consistent, the Infotainment genre exhibits a slightly downward trendline.
News: The News genre is a highly event-driven and dynamic genre. All spikes in viewership can be attributed to some major event or story that was being covered by News channels. Some events lead to a higher spike in viewership due to their nature and impact. For example, the sudden demise of Jayalalitha and announcement of Demonetization led to the highest spike in News viewership across India. The news genre also witnesses improved viewership on Republic Day, across years, as viewers tune in to watch the live feed of the processions.
Sports: Sports is also a very dynamic and property-driven genre. Maximum fluctuations can be seen in this genre based on the schedule of major sporting events. During the telecast of big-ticket properties such as the T20 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy, the avg. viewership of the Sports genre was seen to have surpassed the highest average viewership for GEC genre on a given day during the two-year period. Despite the interest in other sports has been on the rise among Indian viewers, Cricket still dominates the sports viewership for the average Indian viewer. The viewership spikes during all cricket tournaments, especially when Team India is playing.
It can be said that 5 unique day parts exist in the average TV viewing day. The prime time and early prime-time viewership are unique. The early morning (0600-0900) and late afternoon (1500-1800) viewership is also unique.
The 0900-1200 & 1200-1500 hr time bands on the other hand, can be thought of as a single, broad time band. The content offering in this time band can be modified and tailored according to the taste of the demographic group which contributes to maximum viewership in this day-part by creating a noon-special segment.
The day-part trends split by 3-hour time bands, it appears that the early Prime Time band (1800-2100 hrs) is the only time band which reflects seasonality in TV viewing, while all other time bands appear immune to it. The late prime time band (2100-2400 hrs) also exhibits seasonality. There is a visible drop in the viewership for this time band during Q2 (April-June)
There is a strongest correlation between the 0900-1200 hrs and 1200-1500 hrs time band, indicating that the viewership pattern in these time bands is very similar to each other. Interestingly, both these time bands also exhibit an inverse relationship with both the prime time viewing bands (1800-2400 hrs).
Film based programmes and News content together account for a little over 50% of the available content in both these time bands. The film based programmes are being driven by feature films, while the News themes are being driven by news bulletins.