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BARC deciphers rural India’s viewership patterns

MUMBAI: Southern and Western India lead television viewership for rural markets. The south zone also registers the highest reach and average time spent (ATS).

These are the findings of BARC India’s report on viewership patterns of rural India.

The report titled ‘Anatomy of Rural India’ states that North zone has the lowest viewership of all the four zones. It also has the lowest ATS but has a comparatively better reach.

According to the study, viewers in the North zone do not stick to television viewing for as long as those in other zones.

The West zone has the second-highest viewership after the South zone; however, it has relatively lower reach. This shows that audiences in the western rural market have lower reach, but they spend a high amount of time consuming television content.

The study also notes that viewership of weekdays and weekends are driven by the South zone followed by West zone.

Weekday vs weekend viewershipRural India, according to the report, starts its day at around 5 am in the morning and continues to have higher viewership until 9 in the morning. Urban India viewership catches up after 9 am and has higher viewership than rural India throughout the afternoon and evening.

It further states that rural India sees an early spike for prime time as compared to urban India. For rural, the highest viewership is generated during the time-band 20:30–21:00 followed by the time-band 20:00–20:30.

The viewership starts declining at around 22:30, hinting at an early wrap-up for the day for rural audience, the report states.

Weekend viewership is marginally higher than weekdays in rural with the West zone showing maximum increase in viewership. The East zone shows least increase in viewership.

The higher weekend viewership is due to the leisure that people have on weekends.

The average viewership for prime time is almost twice that of non-prime time for rural India. The pattern remains the same for all the four zones, with the Eastern zone having the maximum growth during prime time followed by the West.

However, at an absolute level the South zone continues to have the highest viewership followed by the West zone.

While the viewership diff­ers across zones in absolutes, it must be noted that the viewership trends across day-parts, prime time vs non-prime time & weekday vs weekend, remain similar across all zones.

Prime time vs non prime time viewership

This, the report notes, is helpful for broadcasters and marketers attempting to reach rural audiences.

According to BARC, frequency-based plans will yield better results for marketers targeting the West or East zone. On the other hand, for those targeting North, reach-based plans may be more achievable.

Programme theme

Serial-based programmes secure the highest share among all programme themes followed by film-based programmes. This pattern is consistent across all zones with the exception of South.

Viewership for serials is driven majorly by the North zone while film-based programmes have the maximum viewership in the South zone.

Most of the programme themes are driven by the South zone. The only exception is music, which is driven almost entirely by the North zone.

For broadcasters in the serials and music genre, the North Indian rural market is the key. For advertisers and marketers targeting North and South zones, serialsand film-based content will be the ‘Holy Grail’ to reach their audiences respectively, as over 30% of the viewership is attributed to each of these content types across zones.

Reach vs ATS

While the South zone maintains ATS throughout the day, it is overtaken by the West during prime time. Although West zone loses in terms of garnering more reach, it has loyal television viewers.

Reach Vs ATS 01

On the other hand, South zone reaches a larger set of audience; it is also successful in making viewers stay for long on television.

Reach Vs ATS 02

East and North zones both seem to be unsuccessful in garnering either a higher reach or ATS. However, for the prime-time band (18:00–24:00 hours), East rural has managed to jump highest in ATS compared to the previous time-band. Viewers in the East zone seem to be heavy prime-time content consumers.

Reach Vs ATS 03

It may be worthwhile for broadcasters and marketers to take a closer look at the primetime and non-primetime viewership habits of East zone to understand the reason for the spike, the report stated.

Viewership by demographics

In terms of demographics, North and West zones have a higher percentage of male viewers during prime time, while South and East have higher female viewers. For all-India rural, the percentage is equally split at 50:50.

By gender
Millennials (age group 15–30) form the largest percentage of audience in rural India. The pattern is the same across all the four zones with the exception of South where Gen X (age group 31–50) forms the largest percentage of audiences. NCCS C has the highest share of viewership among all zones in Rural India.

By Age group
While West zone and East zones display a composition similar to rural India, North and South zones have some variations. The North zone has a substantially higher composition of NCCS A & NCCS B, while the contribution of NCCS C is lower than the rural India average. Conversely, in the South zone, the contribution of NCCS A is low.

Millennials in rural India could be the next big target for broadcasters and advertisers to hold on to, the report stated.

Programme theme stickiness

To understand content stickiness, the report looks at fidelity index, which gives the average percentage of a time-band/programme that is contacted by an individual.

While most content sees similar reach across zones during prime time, some content has a higher/lower preference in certain zones. The North zone has low reach for both film-based and sports content compared to other zones.

Film-based programmes, which have the maximum reach during prime time, have one of the lowest stickiness across rural India for all the four zones.

By Program Theme Stickiness

Games/talk/quiz and lifestyle-based programmes can hold audiences longer as they have healthy ratio for reach to fidelity.

In rural India, stickiness for serial-based programmes is the highest across programme themes. Surprisingly, it is driven mostly by the South zone, which had the lowest reach among all zones for this content.

The North and West zones, which have a higher percentage of male audiences, also see higher stickiness for sports programmes.

Lifestyle-based content in terms of stickiness has much better ratio of reach to fidelity across zones.

Stickiness of the genre may be an important indicator for broadcasters in terms of engagement with the content, the report said.

Fidelity Index can give an idea of the stickiness of the program content

Advertising scene

According to the report, the top ad sectors by viewership during prime time in rural India are Personal Care/Hygiene, Food & Beverages, Hair Care, Services, etc.

Personal Care/Hygiene and Hair Care sector have a higher share in the North zone. This can also be seen while comparing all the zones for the Personal Healthcare category, where again North zone takes the lead.

On the other hand, South Zone is more inclined towards categories like Food and Beverages, Auto, Durables and Personal accessories.

By Ad Sector Popularity

Switching pattern for GECs and movies

The report states that most of the switching to or from a channel genre happens due to audience switching the TV on or off­. However, it declines during the later time bands.

The only exception is 18:00–24:00 where switching between movies and GEC is higher than viewers switching TV off­ during that time-band (with movies as reference).

On comparing switching from movies to the GEC genre, switching percentage remains almost comparable throughout the day. On the other hand, switching from GEC to movies declines during later time-bands.

On an overall level, switching from GEC to movies is seen more often than switching from movies to GEC.

Switching pattern for Gecs and movies