In the grip of money lack: what awaits Russian TV after the departure of foreign advertisers

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In the grip of money lack: what awaits Russian TV after the departure of foreign advertisers
In the grip of money lack: what awaits Russian TV after the departure of foreign advertisers
14 March, 10:04
The departure of Western companies from the Russian market had a direct impact on television. It is no secret that TV channels received most of their income from advertising of foreign companies, and foreign films invariably gathered a permanent audience. What fate awaits television in the new reality?

Irina Mishina

There has never been such unanimity among the most diverse TV channels. Absolutely all of them - from federal to entertainment - now refuse to comment, repeating the same phrase: "We are not ready to discuss the consequences of the departure of Western manufacturers and advertisers, there are no decisions today". The state of shock seems to have gripped everyone - from Channel One to the Red Square television production holding.

The press service of Gazprom-Media limited itself to a brief comment: “We are observing the situation, which is changing so quickly that it is inappropriate to give an assessment now. The basis of the TNT network is the content of its own production”.

The problem is not only and not so much in the program content of TV channels. The fact is that their main income is advertising. And here everything is sad. As you know, more than 300 foreign companies have already temporarily curtailed their work in Russia. There are fewer and fewer remaining - so far "several dozen". And it’s not a fact that they will remain: the same Coca-Cola first announced that it continues to work, and a few days later that it stops doing business in Russia. And this is far from the only example.

It is simply impossible to imagine domestic television without advertising of foreign brands. Everything - from cars to miraculous washing powders and shampoos, without which your life, according to TV, is just darkness and hell - these are foreign brands. What to do now with dandruff or stains on clothes is a big question. After all, detergents and cleaners were advertised on TV by Procter & Gamble, the largest TV advertiser in the world. This company's monthly expenses in our market alone were $22 million per month. But Procter & Gamble decided to suspend its advertising activities and announced that it would not continue to invest in Russia. According to the advertising market players, Procter&Gamble's refusal to promote in Russia can deal a strong blow to TV advertising in general. Especially if other international brands follow suit.

It is known that the top 10 largest advertisers in Russia, in addition to P&G from international companies, also included Nestle (6 billion rubles, also announced the cessation of advertising), Reckitt Benckiser and Pepsi. And in the top 30 there is also L'Oreal, and Danone, who also left.

To understand the scale of the disaster of TV channels, it is enough to give just one figure: In 2021, the total cost of TV advertising in Russia for the top 30 brands amounted to 73 billion rubles, including the costs of international brands from the top thirty - about 38 billion rubles. According to the results of nine months of 2021 (ACAR data ), the volume of the TV advertising market in Russia amounted to 133-134 billion rubles. On this money, our television basically existed, especially for entertainment TV channels that are not spoiled by government assistance. With this money they filmed their own series, sitcoms, and various programs.

Despite the fact that representatives of TV channels unanimously refrain from commenting, some information leaks have occurred in recent days. It became known that on March 9, a meeting was held with the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Digital Transformation and heads of major Russian media. The fact that they discussed the situation in journalism and, in particular, on television during the sanctions, we were told by several sources at once.

Thus, the editor-in-chief of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Vladimir Sungorkin , said that proposals were made to support domestic media: lift the ban on advertising prescription drugs and Russian alcohol; exempt the media from income tax for 2021. The Ministry of Digital Development will submit proposals to the Ministry of Finance and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

“There is an understanding that without additional support measures, the media can hold out for two months until the end of the year, after which they will fall into a stupor if the current problems continue”, - Sungorkin, editor-in-chief of Komsomolskaya Pravda, said.

In addition to the withdrawal of advertising, the question arises with the rights to show foreign films. True, the source of “NI” on Channel One cheerfully assured: “We can easily take the foreign series off the air and put on our“ Tatyana’s Day ”. But what will happen to the ratings, on which the influx of advertising depends not least of all? But even according to the most approximate figures, there is traditionally a lot of high-quality foreign content, especially movies and serials, on Russian TV channels, and viewers are willing to watch it.

As director of the Institute of Modern Media (MOMRI) Kirill Tanaev told NI, air and off-air TV channels still buy foreign content in a significant amount. This happens, in particular, due to insufficient volumes of domestic production of television content in almost all segments - cinema, series, educational programs and even animation. In the case of non-terrestrial TV channels, the explanation is as follows: since they broadcast 24 hours a day, each TV channel gets 8,760 hours a year. It is impossible to provide such a volume of air, even taking into account the rotation, solely at the expense of domestic production. “Therefore, from 30% to 60% of the content on many thematic channels are foreign purchases. And even more!”, - said Kirill Taneyev.

But in the new sanctions reality, purchases of foreign content will most likely begin to tend to zero. So the Russian viewer will have to live with reruns and Russian serials. By the way, the fate of the series "Matchmakers", popular in Russia, is also in question: it is produced by the Ukrainian studio "Quarter 95", associated with Vladimir Zelensky. And everything connected with politics is now on TV under scrutiny and censorship. As you remember, the leading entertainment TV channels Gazprom-Media TNT and Friday! refused to cooperate with the producers of the show "The Bachelor" Armen Oganyan and "Eagle and Tails" Marina Grankina because of their statements about the special operation in Ukraine.

True, “import substitution” has already begun in the production of serials. According to the well-known film and television producer Alexander Akopov, who launched an impressive number of Western serial hits on the Russian TV market, such import substitution on Russian TV channels began a long time ago:

“According to the series, import substitution took place about twenty years ago. Now 90% of the TV shows that our audience watches are local products. But there is also a demand for Western TV series too. In the cinema, in different years, Russian films occupy from twenty to forty percent of the domestic market. However, our film industry is in a state of war, its participants want to grow, work for their audience, and this will happen regardless of whether American films are allowed to be shown here or not”.

The import substitution of "NI" was also announced on the TNT channel. Indeed, in the fall of 2017, a landmark event for the media market took place: TNT, one of the five most popular TV channels in Russia, announced that it was refusing to purchase foreign films - their place in the broadcast network was taken by the content of its own production. Artur Dzhanibekyan, head of the Gazprom-Media Entertainment Television sub-holding (owner of TNT), called this decision "a unique event in the life of Russian television". According to him, the interest of advertisers and the audience in the channel's own projects turned out to be higher than in foreign products. As an experiment, TNT replaced a foreign comedy with its own show in one day. Convinced that this increased the ratings, TNT decided to completely abandon foreign products.

Let's say that with serials the problem can be solved by tele-import substitution. But what to do with rating programs, most of which are replicas of Western ones? After all, many popular programs, for example, on the First, “our everything” - everything is not ours. The capital show "Field of Miracles" is a partial analogue of the American television program "Wheel of Fortune". The rights to the show "Voice" are owned by the Dutch company Talpa Media. "Who want to be a millionaire?" - a counterpart to the English game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, reproduced under the eponymous franchise of Sony Pictures Entertainment. And the list is endless...

And if on federal channels own production can somehow support the state, on entertainment channels everything is a big question. True, Gazprommedia NI assured that such popular programs as the Comedy Club have long since become their own production, they are released by a subsidiary owned by Gazprommedia.

What will be next? At the end of February, TV channels already decided on an experiment by canceling all entertainment programs. Politics and news dominated the air. But this led to the outflow of a significant permanent audience. If this segment leaves, what will remain in the end? Talking heads on political talk shows? The series "Chikatilo", the shooting of which is either being completed or completed? "Container" - a series about surrogate motherhood? "Trace" about dismemberment? Somehow it's sad.

Obviously, in the current realities, with a drop in income, TV channels will have to switch to reruns, which will become a cruel reality for those who, according to old memory, prefer TV. But what should a viewer who is accustomed to high-quality foreign cinema do? “In recent years, the share of Russian cinema in the box office has fluctuated around 25-33 percent, so we can assume that all the rest of the money comes from American blockbusters,” says film critic Yegor Moskvin.

However, this audience has one fallback option, which many experts have already voiced: viewers can return to downloading movies from torrents. Many are already finding a replacement for TV in this way.

In any case, TV presenters in Russia will no longer be multimillionaires who set the tone in social gatherings and other vanity fairs.

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