Adspend evades Indian broadcast giant

01 September 2009

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan, the state-operated Indian TV broadcaster, typically outperforms its commercial rivals when its comes to delivering viewer numbers, but has yet to reap the rewards with regard to its adspend levels, according to TAM Media Research.

It is estimated that Doordarshan currently reaches 107 million households in India, compared with the combined total of 85 million households recorded by the country's cable and satellite operators.

Based on data relating to average viewing figures from January to the start of August this year, TAM found that Doordarshan performs strongly when measured against its major competitors.

The news broadcast on its flagship channel, DD1, had a typical audience share of 20% in the peak-time viewing period from 20:00 to 20:30 among cable and satellite viewers, ahead of bulletins on AajTak, with 18%, and India TV, on 14%.

Similarly, Jalsa, a talent show aired on DD1 between 22:30 and 23:00 on July 12 this year, got higher ratings than general entertainment programmes shown between 20:30 and 23:00 time on commercial channels such as Zee TV, Colors and STAR Plus.

Films on DD1 also tended to record much larger audiences in Hindi-speaking areas than when they were available to watch on pay-TV providers like Colors, STAR Plus, Sony and UTV Movies.

However, this was partly attributed to the fact that these movies were only shown once on the state-run network, compared with an average of around nine times on private stations.

Indeed, it was argued by some media planners that TAM's figures are partially flawed, as they do not always represent shows starting at the same time, and as an average over 31 weeks is not as useful as a weekly assessment when measuring performance.

For example, while DD1 recorded a higher share of the news audience in the 20:00–20:30 timeslot, peak-time viewing for many news providers is from 20:00 to 22:00, which TAM did not assess.

Similarly, when DD1 broadcast two one day international cricket series earlier this year, it attracted 68 million viewers, compared with 70 million people who watched the simultaneous broadcast on Neo Cricket, the pay-TV station.

Fast-moving consumer goods companies make up the top ten advertisers on each of Doordarshan's channels, with Hindustan Unilever taking a 9% share overall, followed by ITC, with 2%.

Other major marketers include Colgate-Palmolive, Dabur, Godrej, Heinz and Reckitt Benckiser, each of which are attempting to take advantage of Doordarshan's strong presence in rural areas, where pay-TV penetration is much lower.

It is also estimated that advertising rates on the public broadcaster's networks are as much as 50% cheaper than on its private rivals.

Despite this, Doordarshan, which operates more than 20 channels, currently generates around 500 crore rupees in adspend ($102m; €71m; £63m), compared with the total of 4,500 crore rupees enjoyed by its commercial rivals.

Data sourced from Business Standard/Television Point; additional content by WARC staff