Hindi fiction based series have always been one of the most significant elements that make up the Hindi General Entertainment space. What started with shows such as ‘Shanti’, ‘Dekh bhai dekh’, ‘Kyunki saans bhi kabhi bahu thi’, ‘Kahaani ghar ghar ki’, etc., has given way to a lot more in terms of differentiated programming content, viewing experience, variety to name a few. But though fiction shows on the Hindi GEC space still continue to be the bread and butter for the players on the broadcast space, the space has been steadily observing a low tolerance to shows which fail to click with the audience.
It can be recalled that once upon a time, there have been shows which have enjoyed extremely long runs, ‘Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahi thi’ on Star Plus being an extremely apt example of the same. In comparison, today the longevity of the shows have declined considerably with shows going off air just 120 days post its launch and in some cases even less. Low viewership which once translated in the form of generation leaps or introduction has now directly transpired into shows going off air.
In the year 2012 itself around 13 shows went off air. Some of the shows to go off air were ‘Sajda Tere Pyaar Mein’, ‘Shubh Vivah’, ‘Dekha Ek Khwaab’, ‘Navya’, ‘Sasural Genda Phool’, ‘Maryada Lekin Kab Tak, ‘Choti Bahu’, ‘Ram Milaayi Jodi’, ‘Bhagonwali – Baante Apni Taqdeer’, ‘Yahan Mein Ghar Ghar Kheli’, ‘Na Aana Is Des Mein Lado’, ‘Phulwa’, ‘Havan’, ‘Iss pyaar ko kya namm doon’, ‘Na bole tum na maine kuch kaha’, ‘Teri Meri Love Stories’ and ‘Byaah Hamari Bahoo Ka’.
To counter the same, the players on the Hindi GEC space have been aggressively launching a slew of new shows to maintain viewership numbers. Zee TV launched six new shows last year -- ‘Sapne Suhaane Ladakpan ke’, ‘Rab Se Sona Ishq’, ‘Phir Subah Hogi’, ‘Punar Vivah’, ‘Fear Files’ and ‘Ramayan’. Star Plus launched five fiction shows in 2012 out of which three shows ‘Lakhon Mein Ek, ‘Arjun’, ‘Teri Meri Love Stories’, ‘Khamoshiyan’ and ‘Kaali’ went off air considerably soon. Sony launched ‘Kya Hua Tera Vaada’, ‘Byaah Hamari Bahoo Ka’ and ‘Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage’, Honge judaa na hum and Anamika. Colors also launched four new shows namely ‘Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha’, ‘Kairi’, ‘Chhal, Sheh, Maat’, ‘Madhubala – Ek Ishq, Ek Junoon’ and Durga.
The trend continues in 2013
The first quarter of 2013 also seems no different from the previous year. Shows such as ‘Honge judaa na hum’, Love marriage ya arranged marriage’, Parichay, ‘Yeh Khamoshiyaan’, ‘Mrs Kaushik ki Paanch Bahuein’ has given way to new shows such as ‘Saraswatichandra’, ‘Chhanchhan’, ‘Dil Ki Nazar Se... Khoobsurat’, Amita ka Amit’, ‘Bani’, ‘Sanskaar… Dharohar Apnon Ki’, ‘Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha Season 2’, ‘‘Badalte Rishton Ki Daastan’, as well as yet to be launched shows such as ‘Bharat Ka Veer Putra -Maharana Pratap’ and ‘Ek Ghar Banaunga’. Hence, what makes sustainability of shows such a challenge remains the ever lingering question.
What makes sustenance a challenge…
PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media believes that the intent of the broadcasters is clear when a particular show is pulled off air. Today the entire Hindi General Entertainment space is ratings centric. In the entire TRP race, channels need to cut their losses and introduce content which would work better for them. Also given the fact that a show involves a high production and marketing cost, the quicker it is replaces with something more viable, better it is for the broadcasters.
Another factor that has influenced the same is the change in the viewership patterns across homes. Post digitisation and with the advent of the new HSM markets, the broadcast space has observed a lot of changes with respect to consumption patterns, markets etc.
Elaborating on the same, Raghu Venkatraman, Head – Strategy and New Media, Network Media stated, “Post DAS, there are a lot more channels that are available to the viewers. With the entire change in the ecosystem that has occurred and the increase in the number of channels as well the niche genre, the viewers today are spoilt for choice. This moreover leads to viewers shuffling from one channel to another, thereby leading to increased sampling”.
Venkatraman also believes that though digitisation has happened, the recalibration of the rating system is yet to be done which is in turn leading to ratings fragmentation. Hence though the space is undergoing intense changes in the way the consumers are looking at television, the ratings are still in lines of what was happening previously.
The road ahead…
With the change in the viewing patterns, there is a need to bring about changes not only from the content and programming viewpoint but as well as in terms of scheduling strategies. According to Venkatraman, there is a need to experiment, taking a leaf out of how international shows are aired. For example one can experiment with the concept of airing different shows each day at a particular time as opposed to having a daily show.
Shedding light on the importance of packaging, Balakrishna stated, "Today has become very important to package and present the content in an attractive manner. This would include the marketing aspect as well since the promotions of the show and creating a buzz does help the show gain momentum".
With the Hindi GE facing the heat today, the players have also resorted to experimenting with seasonal formats and finite based series which are more viable in terms of different factors such as production costs etc.
Though adaptations wouldn’t happen overnight given the fact that Indian audiences are accustomed to a particular viewing experience, there is still a lot of experimentation which could be done. With channels vying for the number one position every week, it has become imperative for the players to be top of their game, since survival of the fittest has always been the norm.