Leading general entertainment channels have once again turned to mythological shows to gain viewership – ZEE had launched Buddha, Star Plus is launching Mahabharata, while Life OK has been thriving on its flagship show Mahadev.
Why do channels keep betting on mythological serials? Does repeatedly telling the same story in one way or another help?
“It helps in a big way”, said Amin Shekhar, a senior media analyst. “The reason is that mythology has its own charm. Difference lies in not telling a story, but its treatment. Mahabharata is the same story, but how well the characters are represented and how much justice is given to a deserved angle is what drives viewership. With globalisation and intercultural experiences, people start getting away from such concepts or their roots, and therefore such shows are a regular welcome. To be frank, such shows are welcomed by adults in the family and admired by youngsters. So it ensures a robust family viewing,” he added.
Not only major GECs, but also a few special interest channels rely at times on mythology. Recently, History Channel came up with a show that linked weapons of mass destruction used today to the era of Mahabharata.
On the eve of the launch of Buddha, Bharat Ranga, CCO, ZEE had said, “We are bringing Buddha on Indian television like never before. As far as ratings are concerned, one has to excel in the way of storytelling. If one keeps telling the same story in a similar style, audience gets bored and moves on. One has to keep the concept fresh.”
The channel has also marketed the show in a unique way, positioning the posters of the show with a caption ‘Aaj ke har sawal ka jawab woh 2500 saal pehle hi de chuke the’. The show is being pitched as not only a mythological show that evokes audience interest, but also tickles their curiosity.
In an earlier interaction with exchange4media, Anil Saithiraju of Mudra Max talked about Mahadeva. “Life OK has taken the concept of Shiva to a completely new level. The promos of the show, its presentation, and the treatment are very unique, and these factors drive the viewership. Audiences are seeing something like never before.”
“Channels such as Star Utsav showcased earlier versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata, which were first premiered on Doordarshan. The first versions have been dubbed and showcased in various languages and this only substantiates the popularity of mythology in India. The shows drive audiences primarily from tier II & III towns in the HSM markets. Metros also command a substantial share when it comes to viewership,” said a senior media planner from Delhi.
In addition to audiences that enjoy watching mythology, such shows also appeal to the curious nature of people who may not be that interested in the same.
While not all mythological shows are a hit with the audiences, experts cite that such shows ensure stickiness from a certain kind of audience. Therefore, channels keep banking on the same. Therefore, the target group is very easily profiled and this convinces marketers. Such audiences are loyal and enjoy the same epic time and again.
Not to forget, brands can associate with such shows to increase brand visibility and equity, banking on their popularity.
It will be prudent to mention here that not all mythological shows have been hit with the audience. Viewership decline has also been seen in absence of differential treatment to the show.