Sandeep Goyal
Apr 25, 2019

Blog: Are English GEC and English movies on TV dead?

The author reasons why English GECs and movie channels are on the decline in the country

Blog: Are English GEC and English movies on TV dead?

If I were the channel head of an English GEC TV channel, or an English Movies TV channel, I would really be very very worried. News from the BARC front for the English content business has been really bleak, this past week. While the viewership at an All India level for the category remained almost constant in Week 14, and English News Channels showed a 16% growth over end-2018 figures, English Business New Channels plummeted 29%, English Movie Channels declined 64% and English GEC channels crashed 58%. Not a very positive sentiment for the entire English genre. 

Viewing TV Pattern

Week-52 2018

Week-14 2019

Change%

All India Top 10 Channels

7147052

7251065

1%

Top English Business News Channels

515

368

-29%

Top 5 English News Channels

1946

2262

16%

Top 5 English Movie Channels

13740

4979

-64%

Top 5 English GEC Channels

1376

574

-58%

*Cumulative Weekly Impressions of Top Channels in their genres (in 000's)

Within English GEC channels, the rank order of the Top 5 channels remained constant. Comedy Central continued to lead the pack but was down from 499,000 impressions at the end of the last calendar year to just 266,000 impressions. Star World declined in almost the same proportion from 313,000 impressions to nearly half, at 171,000 impressions. Both these channels seem to have halved on viewership. Colors Infinity SD disappeared from the Top 5 in Week 14, getting replaced by AXN which despite a drop from 152,000 to 59,000 impressions climbed from No.5 at end 2018 to No.3.

Top 5 English GEC Channels

Channel Name

Week-52 2018

Rank

Channel Name

Week-14 2019

Comedy Central

499

1

Comedy Central

266

Star World

313

2

Star World

171

Colors Infinty SD

220

3

AXN

59

Comedy Central HD

192

4

Zee Café

48

AXN

152

5

Comedy Central HD

30

*Weekly Impressions (in 000's)

 

**TG: India Urban 2+, BARC: India 6 Mega Cities: NCCS AB: 2+ Indiviuals

 

The decline in English Business News is verging on 30%. CNBC TV 18 is down 50%, though ET Now is marginally up.

Top 5 English Business News Channels

Channel Name

Week-52 2018

Rank

Channel Name

Week-14 2019

CNBC TV18

342

1

CNBC TV18

171

ET Now

105

2

ET Now

120

BTVI

55

3

BTVI

72

CNBC TV18 HD

13

4

CNBC TV18 HD

5

*Weekly Impressions (in 000's)

 

**TG: BARC: All India(U+R)  NCCS AB: Males 22+ Indiviuals

 

The predicament of the English Movies business is best seen in the sharp drop of category leader Movies Now from 3350,000 impressions to 1355,000 impressions in the past 4 months. Sony Pix of course was in the deepest trouble with viewership declining from 2932,000 to a mere 565,000 impressions, precipitous drop for sure. Star Movies stayed at third spot but declined in viewership by almost 60%.

Top 5 English Movie Channels

Channel Name

Week-52 2018

Rank

Channel Name

Week-14 2019

Movies Now

3350

1

Movies Now

1355

Sony Pix

2932

2

MNX

1242

Star Movies

2808

3

Star Movies

1044

MNX

2698

4

HBO

773

&flix

1952

5

Sony Pix

565

*Weekly Impressions (in 000's)

 

**TG: BARC: India 6 Mega Cities: NCCS AB: 2+ Indiviuals

 

In English News, DD1 replaced Republic TV at No. 1 while all other rankings stayed the same. There were minor ups and downs in this genre but the overall picture apart from DD1, remained almost the same as end of last year.  

Top 5 English News Channels

Channel Name

Week-52 2018

Rank

Channel Name

Week-14 2019

Republic TV

711

1

DD India

669

Times Now

571

2

Republic TV

612

CNN News 18

264

3

Times Now

468

India Today Television

219

4

CNN News18

302

NDTV 24 X 7

181

5

India Today TV

211

*Weekly Impressions (in 000's)

 

**TG: India Urban 2+, BARC: All India(U+R)  NCCS AB: Males 22+ Indiviuals

 
 
Why has all this turmoil and decline happened?
 
The reasons are not very far to seek for anyone who follows this space.
 
- As per TRAI guidelines, every DTH/cable operator is required to provide 100 channels for the minimum monthly subscription of Rs. 130/- a month. But this base bouquet needs to have all the DD channels and fair representation of regional/local channels. None of the DTH operators or important cable guys are providing English content in this monthly ‘free’ pack.
 
- The likes of Star have prioritised their OTT over their GEC channel. Game of Thrones (GOT) which is a highly sought after premium content and airs in India simultaneous to the US broadcast has been actively and visibly promoted by Star on its Hotstar platform rather than on Star World. As a GOT fan, I was not even aware that the Hotstar streaming of GOT was actually happening at the same time as the telecast on Star World as the advertising made no mention of the TV broadcast, hence leading to low levels of consumer awareness.
 
- The arrival of high quality original content on Netflix, Amazon Prime and other OTTs is luring away the millennial audience, especially in the metros and mini-metros where they are becoming a ‘mobile-first’ viewership block. Bulk of the English GEC and Movies viewership has always emanated from the Top 6 cities. These are therefore now the biggest market erosions for television in this genre.
 
- Most English channels are not part of the ‘value pack’ being offered by the broadcaster entities. Hence have to be bought a-la-carte. Wherever the English channel is part of this ‘value’ offer, it continues to prosper. Star, for example, offers 12 channels in its Rs. 49 monthly pack. Nat Geo is one of those 12 channels … hence has seen its share of the English infotainment pie go up from 22% at end 2018 to 33% in Week 14 of 2019. Other competitive channels have not been as fortunate. Star World is available at Rs. 8 per month but has very few buyers at that price. Star Movies at Rs. 12 too has the same disadvantage. 
 
The TRAI’s new regime allows subscribers to create their own bouquets and pay for whatever they want. So customers now vigorously exercise their right to choose. Unfortunately, the worst hit are the TV channels in English, especially entertainment and movies. This choice democracy has further been accentuated by the explosive growth in English content on OTTs.
 
Though no one really talks about it openly, the content on OTTs is also more appealing because of uncensored sex in most series being aired. There is more raw violence, gore and blood too. This goes well with younger audiences.
 
Well, English content on TV is looking at hard times ahead. Some believe the blip is temporary and demand will rejuvenate in time, possibly by the festival season around Diwali. I am not as optimistic. If English has to sell, it needs preferential placement as has been done by Star in the Nat Geo case.
 
The day is not far when big broadcasters will just migrate these millennial urban audiences to OTT/mobile. Or like Amazon has done recently in the US, ad-free channels could become the norm for the English niche. Let’s see.
 
Dr. Sandeep Goyal is a keen watcher of media trends.  
 
 
Source:
Campaign India

Follow us

Top news, insights and analysis every weekday

Sign up for Campaign Bulletins

Related Articles

Just Published

Premium
Neil Patel Digital to launch operations in India
Premium
1 day ago

Neil Patel Digital to launch operations in India

Pradeep Kumaar appointed as CEO

Premium
Weekend Watch: New Balance urges English cricketers to 'make their mark' at World Cup 2019
Premium
Charles Cadell to step down as McCann Worldgroup Apac president
Premium
2 days ago

Charles Cadell to step down as McCann Worldgroup ...

Alex Lubar from McCann's London office will replace him.

Premium
Weekend Laugh: Producer's Diary by Dalbir Singh
Premium
2 days ago

Weekend Laugh: Producer's Diary by Dalbir Singh

The co-founder of Kiss Films presents his weekly sketches for Campaign India