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You can’t control a marketplace with such tight boundaries, says Dangal's Deep Drona on NTO 2.0

The COO of Enterr10 Television that owns Dangal TV speaks about the changing dynamics of the FTA category and discusses their business and content plans for the upcoming months

Deep Drona

Television ad spends dropped across genres during the lockdown and revenues of many channels were hit, including the FTA segment. Things, however, have changed for FTA channel Dangal TV and their revenues are back to pre-Covid times, according to Deep Drona, COO, Enterr10. He said while they too were affected during April and May, the demand for products from rural areas led them to the road of recovery since June.

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“Fortunately for us, all the demands of products have started to come from rural markets and tier two towns rather than metro cities. Because Dangal has been a leader in that space, we were able to go back to pre-Covid revenue levels by June,” he said.

He said the second half of 2020 looks much better for revenues.

According to him, newer categories of advertisers are entering the FTA space. “This platform mostly is backed by FMCG clients. Even during the mature market one year ago, most of the clients were FMCG. The clientele looks exciting because earlier, insurance was not being looked upon with the importance that it is now. Education as a category did not exist as big as it is now. All of these sectors, including e-commerce, have also managed to wire up deep into the country. Fortunately, FTA channels give the only opportunity to connect with those markets. So basically, a positive clientele is waiting to be explored and increased,” he said.

“We are trying to create a differentiator by investing in original programming, which will hopefully change this narrative and others will follow as well and increase the overall benchmark and revenue. As of now, the revenue impact due to other channels returning to FTA has not been felt for two reasons. One is because not all of them have caught up with Dangal yet, as far as performance goes. Secondly, because the market has not swung back to 100%, our loyal clients continue to stick with us.”

Drona said the exit of the four channels had led to a drop in the market size of the FTA category, which affected the eyeballs. “We benefited the most when they went away. But the overall pie shrunk. For example, in normal circumstances even in the pay market, there are multiple channels and all of them are doing well. But, when IPL comes, it gives an incremental audience to that channel, and when IPL goes that audience vanishes because they come very strictly for that purpose. Similarly, five channels together can deliver maybe 1,000 GRPs but when the channels go away, not necessarily the remaining channels can also deliver the same GRPs. So you somewhere tend to lose,” he explained.

“Even a year ago with all the players existing in the category, the market size itself was three times of what it is right now which means that there is enough potential for everyone. Now with four more channels, the reach and the eyeballs are also going to increase. Hence, there would be more money to be traded,” he added.

He said their business plans had not changed much even during the Covid crisis, but they will be more aggressive now. “Even in the initial phase of strict lockdown, we gave minimal discounts to the clients who were otherwise investing throughout the year. We escaped the entire discounting bit because we had a very informed policy and plan in mind. We were determined that we will be able to get back revenues very soon.”

Asked about NTO 2.0’s impact on the FTA category, Drona said it’s too early to navigate the situation. “Only time will tell if it is really going to happen. During NTO 1, the Government’s intention was to give a choice to the consumers but NTO 2.0 is trying to determine the prices. So, I think that is up for a massive debate because you can’t control a marketplace with such tight boundaries,” he added.

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