Perspective | Fiction still rules over reality in Hindi GEC; Why...?

Watching fiction shows on a daily basis can at times become tiresome and in their search for  interesting and entertaining content audiences end up opting for Reality shows on the small screen.  The Hindi GEC's such as Star Plus, Colors, Zee, Sony, Life Ok and Sahara One air  three to four fiction shows on a daily basis along with engaging content in terms of reality shows or films on weekends.

Though we as audience engage in different content from time to time, the question arises as to how channels decide marketing plans for the different genre of programs. Moreover what makes fiction shows successful in terms of TVT and GVT ratings in comparison  to reality shows although the former are  promoted and marketed less in comparison with  reality shows. Fiction shows with smaller budgets and loyal viewers still fetch better returns for the channels, whereas  reality shows on television  are high-cost proposition for Hindi GEC's .

Big budget reality shows, include seasons of Kaun Banega Crorepati, Bigg Boss, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Fear Factor etc. where  the approximate cost  per-episode  ranges between Rs 50 lakh -Rs 1 crore and above while  fiction shows like Pavitra Rishta, Diya Aur Bati, Balika Vadhu and others on the other hand, cost approximately Rs 8 lakh - Rs 10 lakh   per episode, depending on the scale and storyline.

To understand how mega properties have been positioned and marketed in Hindi GEC's scenario, and also why fiction shows which help in driving the numbers for the channel are not being  marketed continuously as is the case with  reality or non-fiction shows, Adgully spoke to industry experts, Gaurav Seth, Senior VP & Marketing 

Head - Sony TV, Nikhil Madhok,Senior Vice President, Marketing, Star Plus, Saurabh Tewari, Nautanki Telefilms, Ajay Bhalwankar, Head- Content, Hindi GECS, ZEEL and Ajit Thakur, General Manager, Life OK who shared with us their insights on the same.

The trend of big-budget reality shows started with shows like Bigg Boss initially hosted by Arshad Warsi and later by Salman Khan,  KBC by Amitabh Bachchan, Fear Factor with Akshay Kumar and Dus Ka Dum was hosted by actor Salman Khan.

At the onset of the discussion Seth sharing his opinion said, "I feel both the genres are different and require different marketing plans. Fiction shows on a channel last for a longer period of time compared to reality shows and hence build a larger audience. When we market any reality shows it helps in engaging more target audience.  As a channel for us fiction and non-fiction both 

work and engage audiences with different offerings and we aim to build immediate recall with reality shows as well as with fiction shows."

Madhok adding his viewpoint said, "Reality shows or fiction shows have been defined in different genres as per the television industry format, but when it comes to what viewers want, they only  look for good formats.  They ultimately end up watching whichever format they enjoy.  As far as non-fiction shows are concerned it provides offerings to bring in new viewers for the channel and helps in creating wider reach. We as a channel do programming for all kinds of viewers through our shows. Where fiction helps us engaging our loyal audience, non - fiction create lots of buzz because it is high on glamour and has a celebrity touch to it."

Tewari, says, "I agree with the fact that  reality shows grab more 

eyeballs for the channel, but adding to it this is also true that a channel runs on fiction shows. The channel has a loyal audience for fiction shows but when  offering something new such as   reality or non-fiction buzz is required and this leads to  loads of marketing spends.”

"When you have a long running series, it really does not matter if you are promoting it continuously or not. In terms of marketing spends I am of the opinion that  marketing a particular season of any reality show is much higher compared to promoting 52 weeks of a  show only once or twice throughout the year," said Bhalwankar.

Thakur who understands  the concept of fiction and non-fiction differently, avers, "I don't believe in fiction and non-fiction but believe in impact and non impact properties.  At Life OK it is important for us to redefine the whole genre of impact properties 

like Mahadev, Savdhaan India and Shapath. We have invested in Mahadev as it is a big property for us and have done the same with other properties too. The Bachelorette is a non- fiction property but yes an  impactful property so we are investing in it just as we would in our big properties.  So marketing and promoting of any genre for us depends on the impact of the show on the  audience."

While creating buzz for reality shows helps to grab loads of new audiences,  fiction shows too attract  loyal viewers when the channel introduces  new twists and high points  in the  ongoing story line which is evident in serials like Madhubala, Balika Vadu, Qubool Hai, Jodha Akbar, Bade Acche Lagte Hain, Kya Hua Tera Vaada, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Mahadev and others.

Madhok further said, "For us even today, fiction  is  important and thus we have  invested highly and tried to make Mahabharat  an impactful offering, to pull in new audiences."

"Fiction shows take time to retain audience whereas reality shows with the associated buzz and glamour helps  gain new consumers and grab eyeballs easily," shared Tewari.

So given our experts opinions it would be fair to say that reality shows work because they are highly marketed and the attached buzz and glamour quotient  make it more attractive to the viewer while on the other hand fiction shows too work because of the loyal audience database despite minimum marketing which makes them cost effective.

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