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Guest Column: Television has begun to lead the battle of content mobility: Deepak Rajadhyaksha, Zee TV

29-December-2017
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Guest Column: Television has begun to lead the battle of content mobility: Deepak Rajadhyaksha, Zee TV

2017 has been a glorious year for Indian Television. The Hindi General Entertainment space has grown leaps and bounds on the back of interesting concepts, engaging storylines, classic non-fiction formats and above all, great content. The year saw viewers completely take control of the kind of content they wanted to watch and where. Taking cognizance of this emerging mindset of its audiences, zee-tv_1336.html">Zee TV freshly articulated its philosophy - Aaj Likhenge Kal, reflective of a more action-oriented, proactive approach of the masses towards shaping their own future by breaking stereotypes, self-imposed shackles and acting on their strengths today. The content, keeping in sync with the philosophy, has been future ready and encouraging progressive thought.

There have been a few distinct trends that changed the course of Indian Television in the year gone by and set the pace for 2018.

Talent preceded concepts

Reality shows changed the dynamics of television viewing in the past year. While there have been many reality shows with similar or overlapping concepts, it was the grade of talent that set a differentiator. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs launched as the No.1 non-fiction show in its opening week in February 2017 and maintained a No. 1 position in the weekend 9 p.m. slot. This 9-month long season, which saw many format innovations including the introduction of challengers through mid-season auditions, ended with the highest rated grand finale for a non-fiction show clocking in 12,131 impressions (‘000s) in HSM and 7912 impressions (‘000s) in Urban markets. Zee TV was the only channel to have grown by 15.4 per cent when the overall GEC PUT dropped by 8 per cent from Q4’17 to FY’18 YTD.

Relatable yet aspirational storytelling

Fiction show viewership was on a rise this year as characters built an emotional connect with audiences leading to a major shift in storytelling patterns. More than fighting external demons, protagonists and storylines showcased battles against their inner demons and societal stigmas. There was a noticeable transition from superstitions and beliefs to taking charge of the future. As a genre, it was governed not merely by new stories but also the same stories being told differently, through a different lens. The charm of each story rests in its narrative and treatment. Success in the fiction space was a direct function of presenting relatable and aspirational protagonists who the masses can both identify with and look up to. As we venture into 2018, Zee TV will present stories that urge viewers to take charge of their dreams, and be the curators of their future.

Acknowledging changing viewer dynamics and entertainment needs

The Great Indian Middle Class is rising and is no longer driven by the set rules of destiny. They want to go out and achieve their dreams; be remembered in history as a generation of a billion everyday doers. Today’s viewer is more discerning, evolved, well informed and demands not only wholesome variety entertainment but also content that will provide a spark, nudge them to ask the right questions, motivate them to draw from their inner strength and encourage them. Homegrown non-fiction formats like Sa Re Ge Ma Pa L’il Champs and Dance India Dance have revolutionized the television space with content that mirrors the common man's life and dreams and gives a global platform to his aspirations. Forward-looking and progressive concepts will, further, set the stage for creating synergies with partners and stakeholders, and strengthen the relationship with audiences across the country.

Pull instead of push strategy in digital space

Digital platforms are best suited for innovative yet simplistic storytelling. As an approach, for every digital communication, we explored dimensions of a core idea and presented it to the audience through catchy nuggets or stories. This has largely been dominated by the content shift and multiple screens becoming available to audiences thanks to deeper internet and data penetration. With the evolution of the omni platform environment, a drastic shift in content consumption is clearly visible.

While television remained the primary screen, mobile phones and tablets also gained prominence. In keeping with these trends, Zee TV in partnership with Google, introduced a first-of-its-kind video voting innovation in Asia. Users were able to see an audio-visual (AV) clip as a quick preview of the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champ contestants’ performance on Google and vote. Apart from the usual SMS voting, viewers could search ‘Lil Champs vote’ on Google and the first search result revealed all top 10 contestants and directed the user on the methodology to cast their vote. This resulted in a record-breaking season-long voting participation by audiences of over 16 Million Votes.

We collaborated with user-generated content website akkarbakkar.com to showcase eight real-life stories of love against all odds, engaging with audiences and establishing the passionate premise of our show Aisi Deewangi…Dekhi Nahi Kahi. To bring alive the core concept of India’s Best Judwaah – how connected are the most connected beings on earth, we created India’s first twin community on Facebook, a Zee TV initiative to connect with twins across the country. We also introduced the core concept of our show Piyaa Albela, the modern-day interpretation of the classic Vishwamitra-Menaka saga, through a tie-up with Terribly Tiny Tales. Over a span of eight days, a series of eight crisp user-generated tales, less than 140 characters each, were posted on Zee TV’s official Facebook and Twitter page as a part of viewer engagement; building relevance and relatability around the show’s premise.

While 2017 proved to be a magnificent year for television and saw many innovations across industries, it also introduced us to the stark reality that change is the only constant and we will have to comply to the rapidly changing needs of the audience. 2018 will bring a whole new perspective and will certainly prove fruitful for the television industry.

(Source: BARC, Average Weekly Coverage in ’000s, TG: Universe India, Period: Wk 1’16- 47’17)

(Deepak Rajadhyaksha is the Deputy Business Head, Zee TV)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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