Hindi fiction shows have forever defined a channel. A channel such as Life Ok explores very Indian themes, whereas shows on SAB TV emphasise the importance of togetherness and light hearted comedy. Similarly is the case for other channels such as Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors and Sony Entertainment Television wherein shows define its thought process over a long-term.
Hindi GECs churn out soaps regularly but a new trend that we are seeing is the advent of youth GECs. Today, hybridisation of content seems to be the buzzword, with channels such as Channel V focussing on fiction-based shows as a part of its programming line-up.
So, what exactly makes the ‘soap’ ever so popular, even in the face of intense competition from reality-based content?
According to broadcasters, Hindi fiction shows are mainstay in the Hindi GEC space because of three key reasons. The first and the foremost is the longevity factor which is associated with the fiction shows. Given the fact that the Indian audience is used to continuous programming viewing format over the season format, fiction shows are perhaps the best bet for channels. More often than not, a particular show becomes a part of the viewing habit of the viewers.
Secondly, what make these soaps very attractive to the audience are the characters of the shows. Time and again it has been observed that a particular character starts resonating with the audience and the audience also starts relating to them in a larger than life manner. There have been examples where in the exit and entry of a character has impacted a show in a major way.
The third and the most important aspect that spurs the launch of more and more Hindi GEC shows is the return on investments that these shows command in the long time run. With the average life of a show being close to at least two years, RoI which a channel obtains plays an important factor.
The production cost is a significant factor which makes soaps a more viable form of programming compared to a reality show. The production cost for a typical Hindi GEC show would be around Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per episode, which would be half an hour programming. On the other hand, the production cost of a one-hour episode of reality based show can be anywhere around Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh (approximate figures), which might even go higher if taken into account the celebrities involed. Hence, sustenance of such shows requires a huge investment.
Also, since the reality format based shows consists of finite episodes as opposed to infinite episodes that come with a typical Hindi GEC show, the viewership that is assured week on week in case of a fiction show is something that reality shows cannot compete with in the long run.
The year 2012 definitely saw a decrease in tolerance of shows which do not click with the audience, with around 13 shows going off-air. As a result of low tolerance for non-delivering shows, Hindi GECs were seen churning out a slew of new shows as well to replace them. This, as a matter of fact, proves that broadcasters are not ready to give up on their favourite fiction shows that have defined them since ages.