A big part of the television circle includes teenagers, who are lost in the rigmarole of 'Saas Bahu' sagas and 'duckling-turned-swan' stories. While entertainment channels like Zee English and STAR World push soaps targeted at young adults with shows like 'Buffy - The Vampire Slayer' and 'Opposite Sex', Hindi entertainment arena seems to be devoid of teen concepts or extracts from the campus scene. Long ago Zee TV had introduced 'Banegi Apni Baat' which was considered a major push in the teen entertainment arena, but gradually the characters moved out of the campus grounds and silently assumed their places in a family set up. Not too different from the 'Jeet' experiment, which started out with the student-teacher setting and rewinded into the mass-oriented Balaji mould.
Why is teenage space not considered lucrative enough within Hindi entertainment arena? Do youth-centric brands have to shell out bigger bucks, with almost no safety net on account of non-existent teen-oriented programming?
Says Hiren Pandit, General Manager, MindShare: "What's the flavour of the month? That's the point we must reflect on. There aren't shows that are specifically targeted at teen audiences because most teens are already attuned to soaps such as 'Kahaani' and 'Kyunki', just as much as the rest of the family members. But there was an era, when almost everything began and ended at the college corridors and wouldn't go beyond it. It's a passing fad. Once people get tired of the family scene, there would be teen-oriented programmes sprouting by the dozen."
Pandit adds, "As far as youth-centric brands are concerned, we generally opt for a combination of mass entertainment channels which would give us the least wastage (in the absence of teen-specific entertainment) and would include spots on shows like 'Jassi', in addition to a mix of youth-oriented channels like MTV, AXN and Zee English. In the absence of teen entertainment within the mass channels, naturally, the cost of reach as far as this target group is concerned, is high."
Meanwhile, Sandip Tarkas, CEO, Optimum Media Direction, comments, "Not everything that you perceive as teen entertainment, would really appeal to the teenagers. After all, how many youngsters watch a show like Buffy on a regular basis? Similarly, a lot of shows like 'Kahaani' and 'Jassi' appeal to just as many youngsters, as housewives. Soaps are getting younger and more vibrant by the day, with plots making quick shifts, and trends in looks, clothing and lifestyle fast evolving. It's a mixed bag as far as family soaps are concerned."
Prasanth Kumar, Investment Director, Maxus, feels that a lot could be attributed to the viewing habits of teenagers. He asserts, "Teenagers are not exactly loyalists. When it comes to television viewing, they spend a considerable amount of time outdoors and, entertainment for them extends to quarters beyond the television set. From the point of a mass entertainment channel, my biggest pre-occupation is numbers. Why would I abandon what's selling (amongst all age groups) and pick a show which is targeted at a minority? Plus, the success rate of teen shows within Hindi entertainment has not been all that phenomenal."
Evidently, the concept of teen entertainment is still wobbling in India. Mush sells, especially when it's a family brand and judging by the ratings, the trend is likely to continue in the coming months.