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News channels set to rake in highest ever ad rates on vote counting day

Brands are being offered 10-second spots on May 16 at rates reportedly going for Rs 1.5-2 lakh on the top Hindi news channels

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | April 30, 2014


Termed as a watershed election and the most important in three decades, General Elections 2014, which has perhaps seen the maximum television penetration, will come to an end with almost everyone glued to their television sets on counting day on May 16, 2014. It would be a day when the entire news television genre is set to attract maximum share of viewership, thus providing them an opportunity to rake in the largest ever revenue on a single day.

As the news channels prepare themselves with cutting-edge technologies to present the election results in a most impressive way, brands are all set to use news television to reach their target audience. BestMediaInfo.com has learnt from highly placed sources that brands are being offered 10-second spots on counting day at the highest ever rates on news channels. Ten-second spots are reportedly going for Rs 1.5-2 lakh on the top Hindi and English news channels. The news channels in the next league too are asking for high premium.

A senior media planner at a Delhi-based media agency who did not want to be named said, “On vote counting day, the top news channels are pitching their inventories at Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per 10 seconds, and it is even more in some cases. Although they are facing a tough challenge from IPL this time, it appears that they are the favourites during election results.”

Highly placed sources in the industry claim that currently the bookings are at an initial stage and as the final day comes closer, the ad rates of some news channels may level the rates of IPL that is as higher at Rs 3 lakh per 10-second spot.

Many of the channels will go without ad breaks for 4-6 hours, which means they will have roughly 120 minutes (6,000-8,000 seconds) of inventories to spread out over the remaining 12 hours through the day. While most of the inventories will be filled by the existing deals, the channels are eyeing an average rate of Rs 1.5-2 lakh for a 10-second spot for the remaining available inventories.

A source from a top news channels explained, “It is not that we have reached this rate for the first time. The only difference is that we got such premium rates for very few slots earlier on important days like Union Budget while we will have plenty of slots to be sold at an average of Rs 1.5-2 lakh or even higher on counting day.”

On condition of anonymity, a senior executive of one of the top advertisers on news channels disclosed that the rates for counting day were floated on the day the election schedule was announced. The bookings were closed for some time but were opened later. “With weaker opening of IPL 7, many brands may find news channels a better place to invest during elections and that has gone in favour of them. But it’s highly unlikely that the news channels will be able to book their entire inventories at these rates except a few slots placed strategically during the peak counting hours,” said the executive.

However, the executive agreed that the viewership of IPL is fragmented with Hindi general entertainment channels while most of the viewers will stick to the news channels on the counting day.

A senior source at a leading channel countered the advertiser’s view by saying that “we have already started booking at the rates we were asking for and those bookings are made for beyond 6 hours of strictly no-ad duration” He added, “We would rather be using select on-screen innovations as long as they do not clutter the screen that will be already loaded with graphics. Hence, these innovations will also attract premium rates for the day.”

On the parameters deciding the rates, another senior media planner working on large-sized accounts said, “We usually go by the viewership data of last 2-3 counting days along with the perception and recent ratings of the particular channel.” However, he believed news channels are not worth spending on at such high rates. He explained, “Election results will be same across the news channels and they will not offer any exclusive content if compared with IPL or any other sporting event that remains exclusive with one broadcaster. In such a situation, when viewers find an ad on one channel, they tend to quickly switch to another channel. So stickiness remains an issue with the news channels.”

Countering these apprehensions, a senior executive at a leading Hindi news channel claimed that their detailed analysis proves a decline of only 30 per cent in viewership during the commercial breaks which is normal across all genres. “Our information bands running during the breaks and teasers make sure that our viewers stick to the channel,” he explained.

The planner also failed to find any logic behind the proposed high rates by news channels for one big day. “If you take an example of World Cup final or IPL final, their rate for big days goes up by 300-400 per cent. I can even assume a premium of 1000 per cent if the rates are already less. But the rates being asked from news channels are 3000-4000 per cent more than their average rates! How can anyone justify this considering that the content remains same across the channels?”

When BestMediaInfo.com tried to find out the kind of advertisers who are ready to pay or could meet the expected rates being charged by news channels, it turned out that they were mostly advertisers with smaller outlays. Another media planner with whom BestMediaInfo.com spoke to said, “Look at the entry cost in IPL – an advertiser should have an outlay of over Rs 2-3 crore to get noticed. But here on news channels, an advertiser with an outlay of Rs 40-50 lakh could make an impressive presence on such a big day. So I’m convinced that regular and big spenders would rather like to refrain as they are anyhow present on several platforms including GECs and IPL, and one day’s advertising on news channels would not make a big difference for them. But, as I said, the brands with smaller outlays may be paying the desired rates to news channels as they claim.”


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