For news channels, a pre-election blessing in Ram temple consecration

Prime minister Narendra Modi leading the rituals during the 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony in the sanctum sanctorum of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya on 22 January. Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwant were also present. (ANI)
Prime minister Narendra Modi leading the rituals during the 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony in the sanctum sanctorum of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya on 22 January. Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwant were also present. (ANI)

Summary

The spike in advertising rates and viewership leading up to and during the ceremony was comparable to a general election counting day

NEW DELHI : The Ayodhya Ram temple consecration ceremony on 22 January brought substantial advertising and viewership gains for news channels, particularly those focused on the Hindi heartland.

The spike was comparable to a general election counting day, media industry experts said.

While viewership, split with digital platforms (mainly YouTube), is estimated to have witnessed a spike of 10-15% on linear TV alone, advertising rates were three to four times higher, especially for mass-market brands, most of which found space on L-bands operating during the coverage of the ceremony, with news channels taking fewer ad breaks.

L-band TV advertising refers to L-shaped ads played on TV screens along with the content or programme for a duration of 10 seconds.

Interestingly, news channels reduced their ad volumes in order to increase stickiness, but the increase in ad rates more than made up for the loss.

According to data from AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research, advertising volumes on news channels fell 14% on the temple inauguration day from 21 January, meaning fewer ad breaks were taken. 

In comparison, during state election results in December, a decline of only 9% in ad volumes was observed versus the previous day. Needless to say, national election results attract far greater eyeballs and advertising revenue.

At 15%, food and beverages led advertising volumes, followed by services (14%) and building, industrial and land materials or equipment (13%).

Television monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council did not respond to queries on viewership.

“The consecration of the Ram mandir in Ayodhya saw unprecedented levels of interest from across the country. For news channels, therefore, the entire pran pratishtha ceremony assumed great importance and remained the focal point of most coverage for several days, which peaked in the week leading up to the ceremony," said Aditya Tandon, vice-president, marketing and product, Hindi news cluster, News18 Network. 

Advertiser interest in the inauguration cut across multiple sectors—auto, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), building materials, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), healthcare and jewellery, he added.

An India Today Group spokesperson agreed the Ram mandir consecration ceremony saw an increase in viewership, particularly on Aaj Tak, which reached an all-time high of 1.8 million peak concurrent users on YouTube on 22 January. 

The number of average concurrent users also exceeded one million that day, demonstrating intense public interest in the event. The channel had a presence of over 90 advertising clients on that day, selling more than 1,500 L-bands, while the connected TV (CTV) revenue team also sold more than 3,000 L-bands on the CTV feeds of Aaj Tak and India Today TV. 

TV sets that can be connected to the internet to stream digital content are called connected TV.

“It is clear that news channels made a really good killing on the event. Viewership spike would be a no-brainer, although it is likely that viewers were flirting across channels and between TV and digital platforms," advertising and media veteran Anita Nayyar said, adding that it is likely that viewers also tuned in from diasporic countries in the US, the UK and Australia.

Yet, given that the ceremony was just a one-day event, the impact of ad revenue increase would be nominal for the quarter or the month, experts said. 

“Since the ceremony only lasted a few hours, the overall impact on advertising revenue may be less than 1%. However, key impact on ad momentum for news channels is likely to kick in in the run-up to the general elections, by February or March," Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd, said, adding that 55% of election-related ad spends will take place before the polls.

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