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Programmers cash in on international formats to rejuvenate serials

06-February-2004
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Programmers cash in on international formats to rejuvenate serials

In television, the name of the game is to provide products of longevity. Indian programmers are incorporating internationally adopted tactics to do just that. Whether it is the entire ‘K’ band taking the leap forward, inter-linking two shows or making more interactive serials, the idea is to give the viewer something new. And from the ratings report card, the ideas work.

Being one of the longest-standing shows, The Bold and the Beautiful is a case study. And have we learnt from it? Definitely. A few months after Bold… went fast-forward, the first to try it was Kyunki…. The result: success. Soon Kahaani… Shagun, Kahiin… Kkusum and now Kasautii… join the fast forward bandwagon.

Ally McBeal and The Practice do a special including stars of both the serials and we see a marriage between the families of Des… and Kasautii… Heena in CID or Astitva’s Dr Simran in Piya ka Ghar. A character leaves the series Buffy… and we have a show for Shhh… Koi Hai’s Vikraal. Jassi’s one hour show ate into the ratings of Kahaani… only proving further that these international tactics work at home too. So what do these gimmicks mean to programmers?

“I would call them stunts, not gimmicks,” says Sunil Lulla, EVP and Business Head, SET India. “Stunts have credibility and they can create spike. We have used various such steps depending on the requirement of a particular programme.”

He explains, “With CID, we did contests that accentuated the show’s profile. For shows like Jassi… Boogie… our one-hour specials have helped increase viewer sampling. The leap forward with Kkusum helped us get the story back to where it started, which again is working very well for us. So we can use such stunts to attain various objectives.”

Sharing a similar line of thought, Deepak Segal, Sr VP, Content and Communication, Star India says, “You have to be smarter with television programming. Every form of story telling is treated differently and in serials that have multiple breaks. You have to keep the audience at a high point to get them back, all the time.”

And these international tactics make sense? “Television in India came in much later. International programming has had much more time to fine-tune their style. They have found ways to rejuvenate interest in never ending sagas. In that sense, Indians are bereft of format ideas. We are learning from there,” explains Segal.

Are there other such techniques? Rajesh Chadda, COO, BAG Films replies, “In content, such ideas stem from the fact that the story has seen enough of a certain kind of programming. But the key is to use it as part of the story rather than something coming in and going out.”

On a different note he adds, “But we need international styles in other aspects of programming as well. We can study them, Indianise it and try to incorporate them in areas of editing like inter-cut between scenes, narratives using music, and in the process give a variance to the audience.”

Segal concludes, “You have to give the audience longevity in television. Otherwise it would be like giving different programmes everyday. And if that were the case, people would go to theatres instead.”

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