Venturing into producing TV shows at the age of 32, these enthralling 15 years have taught me a lot about television programming and change in audiences' likes and dislikes in television viewing.
Starting way back in 1998, by leaving behind a successful business in exports, caused an initial apprehension, as I was amongst the few entering the business without a media background (which was a rarity in our industry). But that did not deter me or my work. Instead, the excitement grappled me. The idea of starting a production house during the late 90s, where media was an 'Out of the League' business option, brought in an adrenaline rush. Competition not being the problem then, our challenge was to make one show and then pitch it.
The initial thought process was to make a product in a professional manner. Having glamour quotient in our business, product making was different than other businesses like - making of sets, getting the best out of creatives, actors, technicians, writers and conveying an enthralling experience in the form of a story to our audiences. This was very exhilarating for me. Jumping in with all the enthusiasm, we dealt with the day-to-day challenges, to get the best product.
After making four to five pilot shows, I branched out to create my own production company Sphereorigins in 2002. Initial years in any business are the most difficult ones. The challenge was to set up a good team and I am lucky enough to have the same team from the inception of the company till date. A lot of effort went into team building and finding the right kind of subjects to write and produce on. For a production house to stand out, and get a successful show in its initial years, is most difficult, but eventually ‘Saat Phere’ was the crowning glory.
When in the media industry, it is very important to come to factual terms that initially one works 24x7. I was doing the same for the first few years in Sphereorigins – either on the sets, in the edit room, attending music or story sessions.
Television programming and the audience perspectives have changed a lot in the last two decades. My observations are:
Content creators are currently experimenting with different genres as compared to the 90’s, where the focus was only on family drama
We have a much more intelligent television audience now. They no longer settle for non-entertaining shows. So, programmes needs to change, keeping this factor in mind
Channel loyalty amongst television audiences present in the 90’s, no longer exists. Currently audience loyalty remains with the program or content.
The current new set of target audience, which makers also need to focus on, is the youth. Programming has to be made for them as well. That is a challenge, as television doesn't draw them as much as the web
Average time spent by watching a particular show also does not exactly determine the duration, audiences are spending on the show
Reality shows have taken an upper hand in the last decade, but audience’s inclination still remains towards content – either fiction or non-fiction.
As far as the future of television production and programming is concerned, I do not see drastic changes. Daily soaps are still going to lead the game instead of weekly ones, as it helps the channel save their costs on marketing and other expenses. Weekend programming will undergo a lot of changes in the next 5-10 years – and competition too. Re-introduction of afternoon shows like earlier when we had just one channel – Doordarshan, where the audience were happy with the weekend and the afternoon shows. I also see Hindi GECs getting into region wise programming and each channel focusing on a particular region post BARC entering the picture. There is a lot more potential in the television industry that canre is be explored in the near future.
(The author is CMD, Sphereorigins Multivision)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com