It is only after the flops that you know the hits: Manisha Sharma, Viacom18

Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer - Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18, talks about Colors TV's most popular shows of 2019, challenges in maintaining freshness in storylines and more

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Nov 25, 2019 1:02 PM

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Manisha Sharma Viacom18

In 2018, Manisha Sharma who was heading programming of Colors TV, was elevated to the role of Chief Content Officer - Hindi Mass Entertainment of Viacom18. She has been one of the key members behind the success of the network’s Hindi entertainment channel since 2012 when she was appointed as Head of Non-Fiction at Viacom18’s Colors.

Speaking to exchange4media about the year 2019, Sharma said, “2019 has been a tough year for us from a content perspective but things are now changing and are looking better for us. Our shows 'Chhoti Sardarni' and 'Bigg Boss' are doing very well and we are back in all day prime-time. Bigg Boss has become the number one show on the weekends.”

As per data shared by Colors, Bigg Boss opened with a viewership of 6.9 million in Urban Hindi-speaking market, making it the second-best launch in its category. Colors claims that Bigg Boss has reached 147 million viewers across India within seven weeks of its launch.

Another show that has been creating buzz is 'Choti Sardaarni', which consistently features in the top five fiction shows. Sharma shared that the shows like 'Vidya', 'Chhoti Sardarni' and 'Shakti' are strong leaders in their respective slots. She said, “These brands have brought us back in the game. We have been leading prime time with two very strong weekday and weekend properties.”

Speaking about the shows that didn’t work for the channel, Sharma says that in any FPC, shows go through a cycle of launch buzz then plateauing, which is finally followed by fatigue leading to tapering numbers. At such times, either the channel drops these shows or waits for them to leap back.

“As far as Colors goes, we are a variety entertainment channel and we look to fire our non-fiction and fiction in parallel. With us, that rejigging was taking a little while to find its feet. It is very natural to go up and then go down again. It is only after the many flops, you know the hits,” shared Sharma.

The network is not only home to some popular fiction shows like 'Naagin' but also to one of the biggest television reality shows like Bigg Boss. The show is currently in its 13th edition. There is no doubt that it becomes extremely difficult to bring something new every season. “It is very challenging to keep on thinking about what new to do every time. We have to not only work with the storyline but also cast correctly. Like in the case of Bigg Boss, we have done a lot of thinking on the casting and brought in youngsters this year. It feels good when all the hard work pays off. We are a slot leader on weekdays and weekends as well.”

The network is also bringing back the fourth season of one of its most successful shows - 'Naagin'. The show will kick off in mid-December for the weekend 8pm slot.

The rise of digital consumption may or may not be impacting revenues of a large number of broadcasters but it has certainly put pressure on them to put their best foot forward since consumers have multiple platforms which offer a plethora of content.

“Of course, digital content will have an effect on TV content, as earlier people were only watching TV but now they have other platforms too. But the way I look at it is - you have to be clear about what you are peddling. You need clarity on what you are selling to viewers and from the advertiser's perspective, I think it's more stressful to pick between the two. Hence, it is important to show that you are performing. From a content perspective, the content will remain the king. It is content that is going to drive growth.”

As we approach the end of the year, the channel is gearing up to launch new shows in the 9pm onward slots . 'Shubh Arambh' will be the first show off the blocks in the slot from December 2. Post Bigg Boss, the channel will be back with 'Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi' which has been shot in Bulgaria this season.

There are a few more fiction shows in the pipeline, which the channel intends to launch. “We are excited about the new line-up for the upcoming year. We have a few shows like 'Natty Pinky Ki Love Story' and 'Barrister Babu' in the fiction space. We are also experimenting with some new non-fiction formats that we will be announced soon,” shared Sharma.

In her role, Sharma also heads Rishtey - an FTA turned pay channel. The channel's name was revamped as Colors Rishtey this February. The network has launched 3 to 4 originals on Colors Rishtey.

Speaking about the content strategy for Colors Rishtey, Sharma explained, “We want to do a few more original shows on Colors Rishtey but at the same time, we have to also look at the larger perspective of whether it's worth doing a few more originals or not on the network. It shouldn't be about creating unnecessary content.”

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