Weeknights on Kannada television seem to be the new hotbed for action. If it’s the regular soaps you are thinking about, you are not far away from the truth. The programmes that have been steadily receiving the highest ratings are the almost identical crime capsules that are aired on Udaya TV and its archrival ETV Kannada. A look at the latest TAM data suggests that reality shows may finally be making inroads in Indian television.
When ETV Kannada first launched ‘Crime Diary’, its half-hour narration on crime-related events in the state, Udaya, which holds the number-one spot on Kannada television, saw no reason to worry. Top officials at Udaya confirmed that the channel was confident that the crime programme’s success would not hold. But 100 episodes later, this attitude changed. Udaya decided to launch its own version of the crime chronicler. Set for the same time spot, Udaya’s ‘Crime Story’ made a remarkable entry – reaching the number one slot in the very first week of its launch.
The TAM data for the period spanning between February 29 and March 6, 2004 (Week 10) shows that in the C&S 4+yrs individuals category, for the 10pm to 10:30 pm slot from Monday to Friday, Udaya TV has received an average TVR of 9.77 for its ‘Crime Story’ show while ETV Kannada has received an average TVR of 7.69 for its ‘Crime Diary’ during the same duration.
According to K Vijay Kumar, VP, Udaya TV, despite a late start, the channel’s programme has touched the number-one spot owing to several factors. “We concentrate mainly on most recent stories. If you read about a crime yesterday, your interest would be very high to see it visually the very next day. Our focus has been on giving this edge to our programme,” he said.
But what many see as the main reason for Crime Story’s success is the coming on board of Balakrishna Kakatkar. Originally the presenter of ETV Kannada’s ‘Crime Diary’, his shift is said to have encouraged a lot of viewers to follow suit. “Our show is performing better because it is presented better. The presenter’s voice is a big draw and Kakatkar is doing a good job,” accepts Kumar. When exchange4media.com contacted, ETV Kannada top officials refused to comment on this issue.
Even as the two channels battle it out, the increasing popularity of crime shows such as these is interesting in itself. While most channels gain their highest ratings through weeknight soaps, the Kannada market seems to be indicating a new trend. Though based on real-life affairs, they do not belong to the ilk of ‘India’s Most Wanted’, which had a clear crime busting orientation. Both shows are simply involved in the narration of crime stories of all nature without attempting to draw conclusions.
While Kumar attributes the popularity of the genre simply to society’s never-ending interest in crime, Vaishali Verma, GM, Universal McCann, offers another opinion. According to her, this trend may have emerged from the South’s higher involvement with news and current affairs. Says she: “News – both in terms of television and newspapers has traditionally been better received in the South. News on television has always encouraged household viewing. A crime show which is factual and based on current happenings may, therefore, appeal to the Southern audiences more than larger-than-life fictional soaps.”
Despite the steadily growing popularity of ‘Crime Story’, Kumar has no plans of introducing other programmes of the same genre. “While ‘Crime Story’ is doing very well and is consistent, there is no assurance that something similar will also click,” he argued.