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M&E industry degrows by 24% in 2020; revenues down to 2017 levels, FICCI-EY report

The industry is expected to grow 25% in 2021 to reach Rs 1.73 trillion. With its current trajectory, the M&E sector in India is expected to reach Rs 2.23 trillion by 2023 at a CAGR of 17%

The Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector has degrown by 24% to Rs 1.38 trillion (US$19 billion) in 2020, in effect taking revenues back to 2017 levels, states a FICCI-EY report ‘Playing by new rules’ launched on Friday. It is, however, expected to grow 25% in 2021 to reach Rs 1.73 trillion (US$23.7 billion). With its current trajectory, the M&E sector in India is expected to reach Rs 2.23 trillion (US$30.6 billion) by 2023 at a CAGR of 17%.

Digital media has overtaken print, and online gaming has overtaken a disrupted filmed entertainment segment. Digital media and online gaming were the only segments that grew in 2020, adding an aggregate of Rs 26 billion. Other segments have degrown by an aggregate of Rs 467 billion. While M&E as a sector has usually grown and often outperformed India’s nominal GDP, the sector fell three times India’s nominal GDP fall of 8% due to the discretionary nature of the spend. Subscription revenues, however, proved their mettle by holding up better than advertising revenues.

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Sanjay Gupta, Chairman, FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee, said, “Digital is fuelling an unprecedented growth in content creation and consumption in almost every Indian language, creating new economic opportunities for both the media and entertainment industry and creative professionals across the country. We need to capitalise on this and unlock the full potential of India’s creative ability to power India’s economic engine.”

Ashish Pherwani, Partner and Media & Entertainment Leader, EY India, stated, “The M&E sector witnessed a shift in demand patterns as consumers actively sought alternatives and had the time to try new things. Consumption patterns shifted and increased across online news, gaming, and entertainment. The supply side too transformed as companies took the opportunity to reinvent themselves.  Every segment redefined itself across verticals by becoming medium-agnostic and embedded video, audio, textual and experiential products to enhance their offerings. However, the compelling content created around news and escapism, and the passion to build some of India’s most powerful brands remained resolute.”

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Online gaming

Continuing as the fastest-growing segment of the M&E sector for the fourth year in a row, the online gaming segment grew 18% in 2020 to reach Rs 77 billion aided by work from home, school from home, and increased trial of online multiplayer games during the lockdown. The segment is expected to reach Rs 155 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 27% to become the third-largest segment of the Indian M&E sector. The report suggested the need for a nodal agency to bring clarity in regulations and well as implement responsible gaming guidelines.

Digital media

In 2020, it grew by 6.5% to reach Rs 235 billion and is expected to grow at 22% CAGR to reach Rs 425 billion by 2023. Digital subscription revenues grew 49% in 2020 to reach Rs 43.5 billion as the pandemic and the consequent lockdown reduced fresh content on television, online sports went behind a paywall and the pandemic forced much of the population for longer periods indoors. 28 million Indians (up from 10.5 million in 2019) paid for 53 million OTT subscriptions in 2020. This was the first time paid OTT subscriptions crossed 50 million.

Digital advertising stayed stable, led by an increased allocation from traditional advertisers who accelerated their investments in digital sales channels. It is expected to outpace all other ad media by 2024 or 2025.

Newspaper digital products will increasingly go behind paywalls and it is expected to generate subscription revenues of Rs 4 billion by 2023. It is estimated that demand for original content will double by 2023 from 2019 levels to over 3,000 hours per year. The share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of the total time spent by 2025.

Television

The industry declined 13% from Rs 787 billion to Rs 85 billion in 2020. Though television remained the largest segment in 2020, it saw a 21.5% fall in advertising revenues in 2020 to Rs 251 billion due to highly discounted advertising rates during the lockdown months. Regional channels received 27% more ad volumes than national channels in 2020. Smart TV sets crossed the five-million mark and grew their base by around a million homes. With people spending more time indoors, the overall time spent watching TV increased by 9% over 2019.

The television segment’s revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% to reach Rs 847 billion by 2023, driven by an increased base of subscribers as households continue to get televised.

Print

Print has degrown 36% in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19. Print revenue declines were led by a 41% fall in advertising and a 24% fall in circulation revenues.  English language and metro newspapers were hit harder and struggled to get back their circulation after the pandemic, while regional language newspapers recovered a larger portion of their lost circulation.

Mergers and acquisitions

Although the number of deals increased from 64 in 2019 to 77 in 2020, the deal value reduced to Rs 68 billion in 2020 from Rs 101 billion in 2019. This was largely due to the absence of big-ticket deals with only two deals crossing the US$100 million threshold as compared to four such deals in 2019. 

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