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The ‘K-serial’ brigade makes way for M-R-B

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The ‘K-serial’ brigade makes way for M-R-B

It is another interesting chapter for Indian television historians. After eight years, the curtains will come down on ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki’. ‘Kahaani...’ was the second show from the block that gave media the popular jargon of ‘K-serials’. The first was ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ – the other two being ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’ and ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’. These four shows ensured that Star Plus dominated viewers’ homes from 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm. The media had written many a downfall saga for the ‘K-serials’ in the past three years, but they always managed to spring back. From the look of it now, new age television isn’t going to allow that any more. Soon the ‘K-serials’, as many knew them, would be part of Hindi GEC history.

It is not that there weren’t serials beginning with ‘K’ on other channels. But none of them delivered in the manner that these shows had for Star Plus. Media criticised the content of these shows repeatedly, and for different reasons, but the viewers were there, and that was enough. However, things have changed. The first to go off air was ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’. Its replacement, ‘K Street Pali Hill’, wasn’t able to give the kind of ratings that ‘Kahiin...’ was giving and was taken off-air subsequently. Earlier this year, ‘Kasautii...’ was wrapped up.

The reason for taking ‘Kahaani...’ off air, too, is largely associated with the ratings of the show. Also, this was a relatively expensive property for the channel given the premium that Star was paying Balaji on the basis of the exclusivity deal. The very clear No. 2 show for many years is not even among the Top 10 shows at present. While ‘Kyunki...’ is still among the top five shows, the ratings fluctuate between 3-plus to 4-plus. It is expected that another Balaji show would take the ‘Kahaani...’ spot on Star Plus.

Speaking on the demise of the ‘K-serials’, Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal, said, “These K-serials have been on the reducing end for some time now. People have watched the same kind of story for years, and now they are moving on. I am not surprised by this.”

Sandeep Lakhina, MD – India West, Starcom Worldwide, added, “When ‘Tara’ did well, it spawned off 20 lookalikes. When the K-thing happened, one led to another and we had a block there too. But viewer fatigue eventually sets in, and that is what has happened.”

Media experts are of the opinion that the demise of the ‘K-serials’ have given birth to many new properties ranging from ‘B-serials’ to new genres.

The rise of MRB: Mythologies, Realities and B-serials

For now, ‘B’ is dominating the shows ruling the ratings charts – ‘Bidayi’, ‘Banoo Main Teri Dulhaan’ and ‘Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby’, to name a few. Then there are properties like ‘Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil’, ‘Maayka’, ‘Kasamh Se’ and ‘Saath Phere’ that have been occupying the top slots. Evidently, the new generation of Hindi channels that include the likes of NDTV Imagine, Colors and 9X have to still crack the fiction genre. The only exception at present is ‘Balika Vadhu’ on Colors that has grown in the last five weeks, and is now rating over 2-plus. NDTV Imagine had something going with ‘Main Teri Parchaai Hoon’ and ‘Jasuben Jayantilaal Joshi ki Joint Family’. However, the shows have not grown from the 1-plus TRP mark.

Reality and format shows have emerged as another genre that is doing well in new age TV. Whether it was ‘Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi’ or ‘Bigg Boss’ or even a ‘Chak De’ finale on the new channels, or all the various ‘Superstars’, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ and ‘Zara Nach Ke Dikha’ versions, format shows have managed to give a boost to the channels they are on.

Dias explained, “Reality is one genre that has come up strong and has moved people away from the K-serials. This is indicative of the credibility and believability of some of these shows. Indian audience are still in the mode of ‘this can happen to me’, and reality is one of the best bets that one has on television now.”

However, industry leaders like Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media, are clear that the staying cow of channels has to be soaps. Arumugam explained, “None of the new channels have been able to bring serials to the table that are giving the big numbers. Serials have to rule the roost for a channel to survive. Producing mythological and reality shows would cost more money. At the end of it, a GEC cannot constantly create programming where the cost is high. There is a limit on how much of these costs can be passed on to the advertisers and the agencies.”

Dias stated, “It is definitely a channel’s hope and desire to make their serials click so that people keep coming back. But maybe viewers don’t have the time, or don’t believe in some of these stories.”

Lakhina added, “We at Starcom did a research where we spoke to a good quorum of people who said that they have a strong preference for stories that have an ending, or definitive storylines. Consumers want their entertainment quicker now.”

Lakhina pointed out that a genre like mythology had made a comeback, but soaps had not lost their ground in new age television. NDTV Imagine’s ‘Ramayan’ has been a trendsetter. There are all kinds of mythology shows across Hindi GECs at present. And both ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ have delivered for their respective channels. ‘Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat ki’ began on a good note on 9X, but the show saw some dip later.

Lakhina believes that the days of the big TRPs are gone except for instances like IPL, which have turned out to be nation binding events. Arumugam provides a reality check of sorts when she says, “A GEC needs serials to survive but they have to be cost-effective so that it is viable for the advertiser…the market can take only so much.”


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