General Entertainment Channels (GECs) have always incorporated tracks which are trending and are topical in nature in order to grab high viewership for their shows. With demonetisation being the current flavour of the season, shows on all the channels are building their narratives on it. The top heads of channels like ZEE, Colors and others have also stood by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to eradicate black money from the market.
&TV’s ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain’, ‘Zindagi Ki Mahek’ and ‘Jamai Raja’ on ZEE TV, ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ and ‘Chidiya Ghar’ on Sab TV, ‘Devanshi’ and ‘Thapki Pyar Ki’ on Colors have all seamlessly integrated demonetisation in their story track. Similar trend has been seen across all the regional general channels as well.
Looking at the reach of these serials and the consumption pattern across age-groups, it is clear that the intent of integrating demonetisation in the story line is to eradicate panic and unnecessary fear from the minds of the audience. At the same time, these channels through their content are also spreading the message that no doubt, people are getting hassled by this sudden move, but in the long run, we all will benefit from it.
For example, the protagonist of the serial ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ Jethalal starts panicking as he is left with lakhs of rupees and he doesn’t know how to dispose off the money. Or in the serial ‘Devanshi’, where the little girl goes to buy a gift for her mother and gets to know, that old Rs 500 won’t be accepted. The shopkeeper then, explains to her that this step has been taken by our PM to curb black money.
Commenting on the reason behind using demonetisation in the current tracks, Hitesh Gossain, Founder & CEO of Onspon.com said, “The reason is same as why you would want to integrate cricket when a major series is happening. You just want to integrate the flavour of the season into your content to make it look relevant and for audience to absorb it faster. As its contextual - it’s typically absorbed well and audience engagement is higher. However, this is typically not advised in political and other controversial contexts. In this case, as demonetisation is widely accepted (researches are saying that) , it’s a good idea to integrate for immediate rise in TRP. But on a long term it may not be beneficial as the context may not be relevant for late consumers on digital assets but that’s something that a media buyer can live without.”
Echoing similar views, Abhimanyu Singh, CEO, Contiloe cited, “The integration of current trending topics like demonetisation helps in the topicality. Through entertainment, the channels make the viewers relate to their regular lives and make them more aware about the current situation."
Explaining the nature of integrations which serials usually end up in doing, K. Srinivas Rao, National Director-Buying, MediaCom elaborated, “Most of the content on GECs are shot in such a manner that they would intend to ride on the current trending topics and also to stay relevant to the public. On one side, they do tie-ups with new movie releases to help build PR for the movie and on the other side, they try and ride on current topics like demonetisation, elections etc. This helps in two ways, firstly, viewers can relate the content to their regular lives and it helps the channel to spread out a positive message (in this case, not to panic and stay calm for a few days in the current scenario).To top it all, it also helps the channel to try and plug in brands who might have relevancy with the scenario like Paytm, credit cards etc. in the current scenario.”
However, this trend is limited not only to the entertainment channels, but movie channels are also following it. For e.g. Zee Cinema has started the campaign ‘Share the Change, be the change’ to encourage people to come forward and help those who are in need of urgent cash. Using popular Bollywood movies and iconic characters the aim to reinforce this change and spread its positive message.