Television is growing. And why shouldn’t it? It keeps pushing its boundaries. Testing the thresholds. Crossing new barriers and discarding old ideas. With more and more TV households opting for more than one TV set and the television content now being available on screens of all sizes and shapes, it does mean substantial changes in the manner that people consume content. From a single TV household, where inclusive viewing was the mantra, the boundaries will be pushed to get specific content for each member of the household on the screen that the member prefers to see it on. The fact that all screens are becoming smarter and prices are falling every year and technology is getting better is only adding to the speed of change. The need of the hour has always been to reinvent, push, thrust, and go where no man has gone before. Into new viewing pleasures. And this voyeuristic medium is no different.
A realistic, but satirical look at seven trends that might shape television viewing in the times to come.
Reality bytes: The House to get more vulgar: Just like Bollywood is going on pushing the boundaries with its movies and lyrics, the voyeuristic-viewing, invasive audiences will also want their daily dollop of reality houses to push the threshold further and create an even more vulgar display of exhibitionism. Hence, ‘Big Boss’ reality might well become ‘Big DK Boss’ reality – just like the lyrics of the famous ‘Delhi Belly’ song. Bigger celebrities will soon be auctioning their private events to TV channels just like in the West. Whereas fringe celebrities will put reality cameras in their own homes, for juicy content that can immediately become juicier TV content. Is Poonam Panday listening?
Kaun banega bollypati? Since most popular Indian culture revolves around Bollywood, most General Knowledge is bound to become Bollywoodised to the extent that all trivia, information and gyan shall revolve around films, celebs and more. Hence, shows like ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ – already hosted by the most eminent of them all, the mighty Amitabh Bachchan himself – shall soon have questions only pertaining to Bollywood trivia. And who knows? Maybe even Bollywood stars and their families, friends and staff might be the only ones appearing. Jai Ho the new Slumdog Millionaires!
Sports – chak de India: Considering that TV’s only other religion (apart from Bollywood) is cricket, the sports channels shall be another focus area. But also considering that the Indian cricket team has been faring worse than ever, maybe it’s high time that Bollywood stars became expert commentators on all the cricket channels while the fitter ones could form the cricket team and go out there and win some matches like the superheroes they are on screen. It’s quite likely. Those stars who can’t get into the cricket team could take to Grand Slam tennis, Formula One, football, etc., for TV exposure. Of course, SRK is sure to head the hockey team – Chak de India.
Lifestyle, travel and food: With the proliferation of more and more dance shows, singing shows, cooking shows and travel shows – most of them with celebrity anchors like Hrithik, Salman, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, SRK, etc., the shows shall have the essence of Bollywood in all of them. So travel could well become about where which movie was shot while hotels and great locations could be about which Bollywood star checked in and when, likewise for food. This will see a fewer number of movies being made since the stars will find more money in appearing on the specialised shows across TV. What better learning for our food/ travel/ dance/ song loving audiences?
News: As it’s ‘happening’: Since most of our news anchors with credibility are fast ageing, and the target audience is increasingly becoming younger, younger celebrities might well become newsreaders on news shows.
Infotainment: Infotainment channels have become so niche that they’re out of reach of the mass viewer. Hence, to drive TRPs in Bollywood, stars might be roped in to give expert tips on the meeting of lions, the hunting of Black Bucks and how to run faster than cheetahs – a la ‘Ra.One’.
Soaps and serials: The last bastion of television programming has already been stormed and soon Bollywood stars will be in a promotional overdrive for their films. Given the tight budgets, they will be seen in all the Saas-Bahu serials that have always been the surrogate family of Bollywood and why not, after all, who can forget the Bollywood movies of the past which were full of similar melodrama? After all, ‘It’s all about loving the family’.
(Avinash Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, ET Now and Zoom.)