TV channels switch over to more realistic content

Social soap operas are not working for television audiences any more. The trend is now favouring much more realistic content where viewers can relate to characters and incidents that are being telecast

TV programmes have come a long way. After having experimented with comedy, social dramas and kitschy soap operas, the industry is now focusing on realistic content.

“Television channels are now looking out for realistic content, which viewers can relate to. One of our current shows on air on Mi Marathi channel is based on realistic content, called ‘Check Mate Khel Sampla’,” said Umesh Ray, chief executive officer and joint managing director, SP Telefilms Pvt Ltd.

Sony Television is also gravitating towards a more realistic genre of programmes. It has tied up with producers like Hats Off Production, Sphere Origin and DJ’s Creative Unit for producing realistic content.

SP Telefilms is producing a serial called ‘ABCD’, which will be based on the education of the girl child in small towns and villages. “We are coming up with the show by February 2010. It will run for 256 episodes,” said Mr Ray.

“Balaji Telefilms was the trend setter with its ‘saas bahu’ kind of television content, which was followed by other channels. After Colors launched ‘Balika Vadhu’, the trend switched to more realistic content. ‘Balika Vadhu’ is the same ‘saas bahu’ drama story, presented in a more realistic form,” said Ajit Thakur, executive vice president and business head, Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

“Television channels are now coming up with content based on rural life. Viewers from Tier II and Tier III cities can easily relate to these programmes. This kind of content is now more popular than the typical ‘saas bahu’ kind of content,” said Sheetal Malpani, media analyst, Brics Securities Ltd.

Zee has tied up with Swastik Pictures of Siddharth Tewary and Vikas Seth and is producing a daily soap called ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitya Hi Kijo’. Swastik has also tied up with other TV channels and is producing serials like ‘Mata Ki Chowki’. Recently, Zee TV has tied up with film producer Rajshri Productions and is producing a fictional show called ‘Yahan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli’. SAB TV has also tied up with DJ’s Creative Unit for a program called ‘Left Right Left’, a serial based on the lives of soldiers.

“In the non-fiction category, the trend started with game shows, moved to talent shows and now hardcore reality shows are popular. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC) started the trend of game shows. Seeing its success, other channels launched many game shows. Over the years, a fatigue factor has set in; game shows like KBC II were not working. This genre was taken over by talent shows. Now the trend is more towards hardcore reality shows like ‘Fear Factor’,” said Mr Thakur.

Meri Aawaz Suno’, which was telecast on Doordarshan, started the talent show trend. This show was a singing competition. Then came along ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, another singing competition show launched by Zee Television. Following the success of these shows, a host of other song-and-dance shows were telecast by various channels. A few of these shows were serials like ‘Indian Idol’, ‘Nach Baliye’, ‘Voice of India’ and ‘Jhalak Dikhla Ja’.

Now this genre has been taken over by more realistic, hardcore reality shows. Popular serials currently being aired are shows like ‘Fear Factor’, ‘Big Boss’, ‘MTV Hero Honda Roadies’, ‘Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao’ and ‘Perfect Bride’.

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