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Celebrity talk shows: Low on numbers, high on interest

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Celebrity talk shows: Low on numbers, high on interest

Celebrity talk shows have recently become the talk of the television world with the launch of new shows such as Look Who’s Talking with Niranjan (Iyengar) on Zee Café and The Anupam Kher Show on Colors. As they go head to head with seasoned celebrity talk shows such as The Front Row with Anupama Chopra and Comedy Nights with Kapil, we take a look at how well this particular genre has been performing on channels.

Niche audience appeal

As a genre overall, talk shows have still haven’t been quite appetizing to the Indian audience en masse. According to data from TAM subscribers for week 15 (April 6 to April 12) Koffee with Karan concluded season 4 at 15th spot on the channel with 0.6 TVMs. The show managed to stay on that position on the channel throughout the season and fell from 1 TVM in week 2 to 0.7 TVM in week 4.

Despite the lower ratings of celebrity talk shows, some channels have contined to back them. Star World for instance airs talk shows such as Koffee with Karan and The Front Row with Anupama Chopra. In the past it also featured the iconic talk show Rendezvous with Simi Garewal.

Commenting on this Kevin Vaz, Business Head, Star India English Channels said, “It’s not about the talk show but what kind of buzz the talk show can generate. Whether it is Koffee with Karan, (The Front Row with) Anupama Chopra and the Simi Garewal show, all these three have been iconic (in generating good buzz).”

Colors too has recently introduced a new celebrity talk show ‘The Anupam Kher Show’.

Commenting on this Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors said, “While people know Anupam Kher – the star, there’s much more to him as a human being. His own story is extremely inspirational and now he’s going to help others like him talk to our viewers about their life experiences. We are sure that with a host like Anupam on board, this show will make them laugh, cry, and inspire at the same time”.

Similarly, Zee Café has introduced their new celebrity talk show ‘Look Who’s Talking’ with Niranjan. The show is along the lines of Koffee with Karan and The Front Row with Anupama Chopra and with the overall rating decline in this genre, it remains to be seen whether this show will help channel ratings to rise up.

Zubin Tatna, National Director, Integrated Planning, MEC said, “Overall talk shows (ratings) are below the serials. To that extent, ratings wise they are not doing as well as serials but apparently attract a small yet significant set of audience and that’s what channels are trying to do. They are trying to get that set of audiences tuned in and that is why these shows are few in numbers but they will come and go.”

Why are celebrity shows promoted despite low ratings?

If celebrity talk shows do not perform well in comparison to soaps and reality shows then why do channels still continue to promote them?

Speaking on this Anurag Bedi, EVP, ZEEL & Sr VP & Business Head, Niche Channels, ZEEL said, “At ZEEL, we believe that presenting the best quality entertainment and innovation is more important than just mere numbers. Viewership is definitely important but creating cutting edge concepts and inducing a certain ‘newness’ to our existing content bouquet is what keeps a broadcaster up-to-date. Thereby, reconnect with the discerning loyalist in newer ways.”

Tatna however believes the purpose of talk shows is to break the programming of the channel. “The channels would like to have a variety of programming. Instead of doing only serials or reality shows, such shows give them a different perspective. Everybody likes Bollywood stars and wants to know about their lives, so you come up with talk shows to break the programming flow and you get more audiences to your channel,” he remarked.

However, many other channels don’t think the same way, believing that such shows have lost their sheen today and have no plans to start such shows in the near future.

Gaurav Seth, Senior Vice President & Head, Marketing, Sony Entertainment Television said, “Today on television there are a lot of stars who are talking to people, giving interviews, talking about their personal lives, so there is nothing left. Gone are the days when we used to sit and watch shows like Simi Garewal and feel that we are getting a peak into the window of the lives of stars.”

Balakrishna PM, COO, Allied Media, Percept Group, however remains positive, saying that there are two things that our country loves, they are cricket and Bollywood. “They want to see what celebrities’ views are and they want to see their favorite stars. Koffee with Karan is an iconic program and there are celebrity-crazy audiences who want to know what the stars have to say,” he said.

The rise of celebrity shows with new formats

New formats such as comedy stand-up with celebrity appearances have done far better. Comedy Nights with Kapil stood at 4th spot in TAM’s Top 10 shows during the week 15 and scored 9.1 TVMs to consequently become the top rated show on Colors and thereby staying on par with soaps and reality shows. 

New age talk show based on social issues, Satyamev Jayate, too has done well. Season 2 of the show even managed to maintain an average TVT rating of above 7,000 TVTs for the month of March and also managed to overtake Comedy Nights with Kapil that was enjoying TVTs above 10,000. According data from TAM, week 10 saw the show recording 7,429 TVTs across the country. However, it has to be noted that these are simulcast ratings as the show was aired across Star Plus, Star Pravah, Star World, Star Utsav, Star Vijay, Asianet, Doordarshan and ETV Telugu.

Commenting on this Balakrishna said, “A format like Satyamev Jayate plays on completely a social and cultural fabric. I thought that it did extremely well in the sense that it caught the nation’s attention. When you view it in isolation of a talk show it did extremely well. But when you start comparing it with a soap, reality show or a film then that is not the right way to look at it.”

Ratings or not, celebrity talk shows go on and look to be a way for TV channels to offer viewers different content to sample. “In my opinion, Bollywood (talk shows) will never die. With more and more celebrities coming in there will be more and more interest from the target audience. One may get bored hearing about Kajol or Ajay Devgan, but there must be Arjun Kapoor whom one may want to know about. So the thirst for the glamour quotient for the stars may change. That will not die, only the stars will come and go,” said Tatna.

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