The XXIV International Congress of the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters (NAT) took place in Moscow from November 24 to 25. The forum was held with the support of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Media. Its general partner was the National Advertising Alliance (NRA).
The official topic at the forum was “Television in a pandemic: gains and losses. Struggle for leadership”. Participants included heads of federal and regional TV channels, government officials, top-managers of media sellers and index companies, advertising agencies and foreign media companies. Together they discussed the global changes on the market, the effects of the pandemic on media consumption, lifestyle changes among consumers, problems with media operations during emergency situations, government support and other issues.
Several representatives of Gazprom-Media Holding made presentations at the forum, including the Holding’s deputy CEO Ruben Oganesov, head of the sales department at Gazprom-Media Sales House Ekaterina Sivoratchenko, general manager of Red Media Roman Stolyarsky, and the general manager of Gazprom-Media Radio Yuri Kostin.
Ruben Oganesov took part in a plenary session and the discussion on television’s prospects in the pandemic, “Global changes on the media market: consumption patterns, audience profiles across different media, structure of advertising revenues”.
The deputy CEO noted that even though classic TV viewership increased during the pandemic, Gazprom-Media Holding has had to experiment. For example, it offered programs in a new format without viewers in the studio, made shows in a video conference format, filmed screen-life series, and held cyber tournaments while there were no live sports broadcasts. There is a broader transformation on the media market - more and more content is consumed on different media platforms and large content studios will inevitably go to these new platforms as a necessary step in making progress in the media industry. According to Ruben Oganesov, TV workers have to adjust to the development of these new technologies and figure out how to work with an audience “that consumes media content in a different way”.
“In this sense, TV will continue to develop and try to find possible niches for itself. The new environment creates new issues - this is Big Data as well as new technological solutions in measurements, fight against media piracy and many other new challenges,” said Ruben Oganesov .
Ekaterina Sivoratchenko, head of the sales department at Gazprom-Media Sales House, took part in the discussion “Methods of making sales and attracting advertisers during the crisis”. In her presentation she spoke about how the advertising industry has changed during the quarantine period and how Gazprom-Media Sales House was able to quickly adapt to these changes and successfully carry out advertising campaigns. All of the Holding’s television channels launched anti-crisis content and new programs, which got high TV ratings. Ekaterina Sivoratchenko also shared examples of outstanding sponsorship media splits. To conclude, she noted that today it is more important than ever to make the business more resilient to outside factors and put this time to good use.
“The TV advertising market is slowly getting back in shape. Advertisers who previously rescheduled their budgets due to the impact of restrictive measures are coming back. During the pandemic we not only strengthened, but also expanded our partnerships. We came closer together and we want to support this. Let’s not wait until the world is back to normal, but start to change it together, right now,” stressed Ekaterina Sivoratchenko.
The general manager of Red Media, Roman Stolyarsky, took part in the discussion titled “Special-interest television - growth prospects”. This discussion looked at the effect the pandemic has had on special-interest TV channels, the methods to stay competitive on the market, and what changes and growth prospects are expected in this segment.
“The pandemic has drawn the viewers to all possible screens and, not least of all, to television. During this difficult time we saw the successful development of television in different areas, the demand for it and its relevance. We see that the viewer is becoming more demanding so we are putting the maximum effort into the creation of high-quality products and into our work with partner operators. We are also relying on people and teams who are able to find or create good content, which will appeal to our consumers - the viewers, the operator and the advertiser,” said Roman Stolyarsky.
Yuri Kostin, general manager of Gazprom-Media Radio and vice president of the Russian Academy of Radio (RAR), talked about the particularities in the development of regional radio at the NAT congress. He noted that radio revenues are very dependent on the macroeconomic situation - it is one of the most volatile factors when making forecasts.
“In this situation, the most important thing is to look into the future without fear. There will definitely be an improvement on the market, deals will be made again, not only at large structures, but also in the small, regional ones. There are thousands of radio stations in the regions, more than 400 unique local formats, and if we imagine, hypothetically, that all of them will stop broadcasting, that will be deeply felt by the communities. Radio is not only music and entertainment, but also the most efficient and effective way to inform people about what is happening in the country and in the region. It is also about carrying out any special projects that local advertisers have, without which direct advertising becomes ineffective. There is no doubt that radio has a future, but today regional radio needs support. A lot of the responsibility lies on network players, but the most important thing is a strong response from government agencies,” said Yuri Kostin.
Yuri Kostin added that the hardest-hit regions in the radio segment were those whose advertising revenues fell 70-80%, and in some cases as much as 100%. But the radio industry is recovering quickly and we can already see the market evening out. Aside from specialized companies and departments, national radio companies continue to support local radio stations. For example, Gazprom-Media Radio offered an 80% discount on franchise payments during the most challenging months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vladimir Zworykin Prize for members of the television industry was also awarded as part of the congress. The prize in the new nomination “For the introduction of new technologies during a pandemic” was given to Match TV. The director of sports broadcasts, Alexey Balaban, accepted the award on behalf of the channel. Match TV received the award for the virtual visual and audio effects it produced to accompany broadcasts of Russian Premier League matches. These effects helped to fill the void of missing spectators in the stands. Alexey Balaban noted, “This [award] is due entirely to the efforts of Match TV’s creative team, which is able to respond to the challenges of our time quickly and with creativity.”