Subhas Warrier
Jul 28, 2012

Opinion: MasterChef, Guggal, ’70s Show, and ad ‘series’

Subhas Warrier, EVP, head of South, Initiative

Opinion: MasterChef, Guggal, ’70s Show, and ad ‘series’

For my mother-in-law,  son and daughter, the advertising ‘series’ on television is a noticeable irritant. But my son does find time to catch up on the Ben 10 plot in between breaks on MasterChef Australia. My mother-in-law is particularly conscious at times when I am around, not to complain about these ad breaks because she knows that this is what pays her son-in-law his daily bread. But the occasional muttering on the long commercial breaks is palpable. My daughter is able to ‘multi-scan’ and keep track of two or more shows at times, because the long advertising breaks allow her to surf and catch the Channel V teen drama development on Suvreen Guggal and That ’70s Show on Comedy Central at almost the same time. In between these choices, my wife (usually reticent) is quite happy to see what new ingredients the Australians have discovered to make their food (or is it their show) more interesting.

I would personally prefer that my mother-in-law is able to watch her daily serial enjoyably and still believe that her son-in-law’s job is good, because that is what pays for this serial. But for my children, I would prefer that this intense multi-scanning is reduced for the simple reason that they will spend less time on television, but on quality shows.

Advertisers are weary. I was in a different market within Asia in 2003-’04, where one of the big clients moved a substantial amount of advertising investment from television to retail for the very same reason, and was subsequently able to negotiate a cap on advertising limit in the breaks they have chosen. This was a bold step taken to make the point clear that they are serious about reducing dependency on TV as a long term strategy.

Coming back to India, the situation is particularly worse off. Whilst channels are the most impacted if the TRAI cap (or 12 minutes of ads to the clock hour) is enforced, at the same time, I am sure most of you will agree that the consumer has been continuously impacted with the barrage of TVCs for long. I sympathise with the consumer at one end. From our side, the advertiser and the channels need to deal with the changing game of consumer choices.

The TRAI regulations need to be discussed and debated no doubt, but this also gives the channels a go at a completely new structure of pricing. For far too long, the prime time (PT) cost pays for the non-prime time (NPT) slots. The channel can look at how to make their yields on inventory much more direct. Most markets that I know of operate on a 70/30 split on NPT versus PT spot procurement. This is because here the value of the afternoon, morning and early fringe day parts has not been monetised well enough for advertisers to see the benefit.

As I write, Channel V has publicised its wooing the youth by re-defining the prime time on the channel. It is not about the channel redefining the prime-time as much as the target demanding their need at this hour. I believe the youth are the ‘late birds’ of the house so I have always held the opinion that the exclusive TV time for them is after the rest of the household goes to sleep. But as always, there is the other POV. All the more reason for us to look at each day-part at its own merit, and therefore the point about pricing differently.

I analysed the penultimate week of IPL (Week 20  - 13 to 19 May). It did not reflect any major fall in inventory sold in GEC channels. Cricket or no cricket, whilst across the day, the inventory on GECs is more or less at the same level, the reach delivered in off-prime is a valuable half of what prime time delivers. Star Group has mastered an equitable distribution of inventory sold from the way they design their packages. However, other channels have much to do in making that equitable sale of inventory across the day.

Whether self-regulated or otherwise, there is scope to improve the quality of TV viewing and I could bet some monies on attaching a premium for the same. If we are able to make our clients see the point in this, then we can keep a larger number of participants in this process also happy - especially my mother- in-law!

In a downturn scenario, I am told people tend to re-invent themselves. I think that time has come…

Campaign India