Fiction rules the roost; while innovation is crucial for non-fiction in the south

Experts from the south talk to exchange4media about the content that works in the market and the importance of innovation for non-fiction content

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Feb 14, 2014 9:15 AM
Fiction rules the roost; while innovation is crucial for non-fiction in the south

In the southern markets, experts say that fiction to non-fiction ratio is 70:30,exchange4media speaks to broadcasters from the southern market to understand the kind of content that rules the roost and some of the most popular shows.

South India is a very typical market, where people especially in Tamil Nadu used to be glued to Sun TV, watching the soaps. Today, players such as Vijay TV, Zee Tamizh in Tamil Nadu, Asianet in Kerala and Suvarnain Karnataka have brought in content innovation and changed the viewership pattern.

K Sriram, General Manager, Vijat TV said, “People were so used to watching Sun TV’s soaps that when Vijay TV’s non-fiction started people were slightly moving away from regular fiction watching to non-fiction. It’s all about experimentation and giving the right product to the viewers.”

The unique thing in South India is that no single show works across four languages, because every market has a unique taste. One show that cut across all languages is KBC, which has been adapted by almost all regional channels.

Some of the famous non-fiction shows that have made a dent in the market includeNeeya Nana, Super Singer, NaduvulaKonjam Disturb Pannuvom, Jodi Number One on Star Vijay; Dance Tamizha Dance, SolvathellamUnmai, Dhool, Y this Kolaveri, NammaVettuMahalakshmion Zee Tamizh and HaaliHaydaPyaateg Banda and PyaateMandiKadigeBandruonSuvarna TV.

Viewers from low income groups, retired people and housewives prefer fiction shows with lots of drama and weeping, while the working class prefers non-dramatic shows. Dubbed content from national channels has picked up well in this market.

Acelebrity or TV actor actress as a host in a reality show pleases the audience’s eye. AnupChandrasekharan, Business Head, Asianet&Suvarna feels that, “People are very fond of the fiction stars. They like to watch their favourite stars in different avatars. However, it is a big challenge for the directors to maintain their on-screen image in the reality shows which I think we have mastered. South India is more open to experimentation in the fiction genre. Off-beat storylines in the fiction shows could be the way forward.”

DhanaVijayan, Non-Fiction Head, Zee Tamizh, agreeing to other broadcasters said, “Non-fiction though is not the staple diet but still remains  important. South Indian audience always supports unique concepts and that’s the trend thatZee Tamizh is following.”

Tamil Nadu witnessed a change in the viewing pattern when Vijay TV started concentrating on non-fiction and reality shows since 2006. Adaptation of national or international content has been the key but some kind of innovation every time a new show is produced has given an edge to Vijay TV, to hold second position in the Tamil Market after Sun. AdaptingNachBaliye( as Jodi Number One in Tamil), Indian Idol (as Super Singer) and Laughter Challenge’s Tamil version have started a new revolution in the market.

“There is a notion that men watch non-fiction and women watch fiction. I feel a good product is accepted by both. People still prefer content which they can watch with their family. A liking for male protagonists in the fiction shows has increased shifted the balance slightly more towards men. However, female protagonists lead the race.”Opined Chandrasekharan

“We started our fiction game in the last two years. We thought of making dramas that the audience can relate to. Hence, serials such as KanakalamKalangal, Madurai and Office Now were born. Differently executed and conceptualised shows are our forte.”Added Sriram.

Experts agree that progressive story telling will always be accepted and appreciated. Reality shows needs to be done intelligently. Fiction would drive the bulk of programming, but blend of both genres will be seen.

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