So what is it about reality shows that get the audience hooked to them? Is it the concept? Is it the host or participants? Is it the prize money? And what about reality shows that are based on an international concept? Does the Indian audience lap it up in its original format or do they want the format to be tweaked which will appeal to the Indian mindset?
General Entertainment Channels have been in a GRP war since time immemorial and most of them turn to reality shows to ensure a high number of viewers. While some of the shows are based on Indian concepts or traditions (for eg ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ and ‘ Perfect Bride’), some reality shows are just adapted from an international format (for eg ‘Big Boss’, ‘Kaun Bangega Crorepati’, ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, etc). But how does the Indian audience receive shows which have an international format? Or are there factors that the producers need to consider before telecasting a show with an international concept to the Indian audience?
Recently Imagine TV announced the launch of its new reality show called ‘Desi Girl’ wherein city bread girls are asked to stay with a family in a village while they will assist the family by doing various household chores. This format is very similar to the international show ‘The Simple Life’ wherein hotel heiress Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie tried their hand at a common man’s life.
There is also a strong buzz in the market about how the American dance show, ‘So you think you can dance’ is finally coming to India. Rumour has it that the dance show will be telecast on Imagine TV as well. However, there are no confirmations on this front. The show is expected to hit the Indian TV screens in the next 3 months.
Media planners give their point of view on this subject.
Sushma Jhaveri, Senior VP, Carat Media mentions that overall, the success of reality shows depend on factors such as programme promotions, the channel on which the programme is telecast, celebrity quotient, controversies and PR and lastly the concept.
On the topic of game shows with international formats, she points out that the host of game show makes a difference to the ratings. She gives the example of Fear Factor and says that while the first season was not really popular, Akshay Kumar lifted it on a new channel like Colors.
Dinesh Vyas, Office Head- Mumbai, TME says, “Simply picking up an international show and placing it in an Indian channel does not guarantee popularity. It needs to appeal to the sensibilities of the people & interest them.”
Unlike Jhaveri, Vyas says that a certain celebrity will not make any difference to the ratings of the show. The buzz in the media and the viewership numbers is what will determine the success of these shows, he adds.
Narendra Kumar Alambara, General Manager & Office Head, Starcom Worldwide, Chennai says that reality shows options are still evolving in the Indian context and different players are exploring possibilities. “The easiest option for most of them is to try and adapt international format shows and suitably "Indianise" them for the local audiences,” he adds.
He says that just like the international format, the Indian counterpart will also follow the same footsteps. If a key celebrity is featured, viewers would be curious to see how they cope up with the different lifestyle - but sustaining the viewership is going to be a challenge unless programme has the following elements, he says.
Alambara also talks about game shows and says that not all game show concepts are alike; some are show that 'showcase talent' and other are just 'games of chance' and that talent based shows like ‘KBC’ or ‘Indian Idol’ work across markets it is because there is an element of surprise / expectation from them. Game show which bank on chance such as ‘Deal or No Deal’ hinge primarily on a good anchor / host such as like Harry Mandel.
As far as the ‘shows of chance’ are concerned, most audiences have little or no expectations from these shows. Apart from the fact that the 50:50 chance that the contestants might win and at mostly the anchor's ability to entertain determines the show's success. “Any celebrity or film star would just not help; he/ she needs to be engage the audience constantly, should be quick witted and endearing” he adds.
For game shows such as ‘Takeshi's Castle’, it is less about being winning and more about fun and irreverence. Another thing that works in its favour is the wacky Hindi commentary, says Alambara.