Perspective | Tube to test new genres in 2015

Television industry today is known to be one the most fragmented and evolving industries. Having come a long way, the television industry has witnessed a lot many ups and downs. If we go back to the era of Doordarshan that transformed the viewing habits of the Indian audiences, we can totally feel the change in the way the content is being produced and consumed. That was the era when shows like Hum Log and Buniyaad created a necessary buzz in the market with the kind of content that was produced.

The industry took a turn and the viewing patterns completely changed when Soap Operas, crime and reality shows came into action. The long led legacy of the entertainment industry saw an upsurge in the year gone by which saw the entrance of shows like, Yudh (on Sony TV by Anurag Kashyap), 24 (on Colors which is directed by Abhinay Deo and produced by Anil Kapoor films), Satyamev Jayatey (on Star Plus by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao) and few more that portrayed the progress of the production values as well as Television industry of our country.

With formats like Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Masterchef, India’s Got talent etc, having witnessed success, have also marked the fact that internationally adapted formats if produced well can do wonders. Apart from that 2014 also saw a change wherein renowned Producers/Directors were seen experimenting with their expertise from big screen to small screen with shows like Everest by Ashutosh Gwarikar; Pukaar by Vipul Shah; Saraswatichandra which is now off-air but was produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, etc.  These names that have been synomious with big screen have off-late been seen making the best use of the small screen with their vision of showcasing high quality drama and giving the look and feel of the big screen to the avid TV audiences.

Looking at the changing dynamics of the small screen, we at Adgully caught up with some of the eminent producers who have been known to give differentiated and edgy content to their viewers like Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice President & General Manager India and Content Head Asia, BBC Worldwide; Anupama Mandloi, MD, Freemantle Media; Abhimanyu Singh, CEO, Contiloe Productions, Abhishek Rege, COO, TV Business, Endemol and Sukesh Motwani, Founder and Director, Bodhitree Multimedia. .

As mentioned above, 2014 saw a mixed bag of genres coming up in the television industry, when asked what genre they think will work well in this year, Mandloi said, “I think possibly more experimentation in the fiction space and we shall be moving away from the daily soaps, which can be seen happening already. Even in terms of comedy, it will not just be stand-up comedy but will go towards sit-coms which is the appetite for alternative content. The desire to see something that resonates with today's times will be seen growing and therefore there will be a huge demand of differentiated content.”

Aga here opined, “The staple ones will remain the same but Crime and action are two genres that everybody is talking about. Also the fact is that the way the story is being conveyed plays a vital role and not the genre that the show belongs to.”

Singh said, “Well, one cannot really predict which genre will top the charts but I still feel that Soap Operas will continue to grab majority of eye balls. Also at the same time, with new formats coming in the picture the change will be visible quite literally.”

Rege also agreed the same as Singh and stated, “I strongly feel that as like last two years scripted shows will be a huge focus for the production houses this year too. Also but finite shows are set to do well in this year. We will also be seeing channels strengthening their weekend slots going further down the line.” Motwani also felt the same that Soap-Operas are likely to stay on the top.

Somehow some shows that were anticipated to do quite well, saw a decline. Undoubtedly those shows were well designed and produced but unfortunately they could not connect well with audience or rather did not manage to hit the right chord. Mandloi here opined that ‘24’ was actually an extremely well made show and well executed too. According to her the reason why it didn’t work could be that it wasn’t localized enough or adapted for the Indian taste. “But I think you can’t falter in terms of the way it was executed because it was an attempt to introduce all the freshness into the way we shoot and the way we style the content. There will be lot experimentation in television. Something’s will fail, something will succeed. It’s just helping the industry to carve out an alternative niche or a supportive niche,” Mandloi added.

Rege here opined that Indian audience was not ready for a niche show like ‘Yudh’ hence it did not do well. He said, “A show like Yudh was first of its kind initiative in the Indian Television history and Indian audiences were not ready for something of such a kind. It will take time for the Indian audience to accept such formats.” 

As everybody has been talking about the un-predictable needs and demands of the viewers, every producer got to see and learn something new in the year gone by. Speaking about the key learnings, Aga said, “As a producer one needs to have patience and persistence. Last complete year was full of patience and persistence as there were too many changes that the industry witnessed and a lot of new experiments were taking place wherein all the producers were seen figuring out what will work and what will not.” 

Mandloi at this point opined that it is difficult to know what the viewer really wants. People want to create different content and by different I don’t mean that by moving away and taking something that is very extreme or start following what Europe is doing or America is doing. But the idea is really that there was a time when the offering of content was very diverse and we all park back to those days of Doordarshan and early days of television when there was a large variety and there was an attempt to create soulful dramas, create shows that had lot of depth. I think we are coming back to that phase again,” she added.

Also not only this but 2014 also saw the entry of short format, called Finite Series. This format has been perceived quite well internationally but Indian audiences are yet to build and develop that taste. Giving her views on the same, Mandloi said, “I don't know really because the problem is that viewers have become habituated to watching something daily which is their daily fix already. And because the way we have been consuming television for the last ten years, it is very difficult now to convince them to watch a show for one day of the week and then come back after a week to catch up.”

Rege strongly feels that Finite series are set to do well. He said, “In India people are used to one--hour -half-an-hour-per-week long content so it will eventually take time for the Indian audiences to adapt to this format. But finite format will be a hit for sure.”  

2015 trends:

Aga said, “2015 will be similar to 2014 but there will be change seen coming in wherein we will be seeing the acceptance of short format. Last year was slightly confusing though as there was a lot experimenting happening in the kind of content that was being produced.”

Mandloi said, “TV is not going anywhere; it is the bread and butter. It is the most available form of consuming content. What will happen is that there will be alternate parallel platforms or portals that will be available to people whether it is to upload content or to view it. But it cannot be at the expense of television. The universe is going to grow. The opportunities for people to create content and platforms available will also grow. So if there is a boom, it exists with the current platforms. It is going to be a supportive medium and digital is going to grow and be parallel to it.”

Rege said, “The market will be seen shifting towards a lot more scripted shows as that is the space where there is scope for experimentation. No doubt that non-scripted format will also stay among the priority but scripted format will be a key focus area.”

Singh said, “The industry will see a lot more newer formats coming in and the consumer habits will been seen changing.”

Motwani said, “The industry is poised for growth and good stuff. Channels are seen strengthening their weekday properties and are coming up with non-daily-soaps which is an interesting point.” 

Well, as it is rightly said that every year has its own vision and mission and gets something or the other new, this year too is expected to get something new for the viewers and for the television general entertainment space. But it’s a wait and watch game…!  | By Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli

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