Small space big dreams

Epic TV

2014 saw the launch of four new channels that not only set the trend of finite shows that were genre and regional specific but also balanced the traditional and contemporary ideologies in the finest way possible. SANGEETA YADAV speaks with channel heads who tell her the reason behind the more channels in the Hindi GEC category and how there is scope for many more

Call it need of the hour or an attempt to bring a whole new TV viewing experience with out-of-box content and presentation, 2014 witnessed  big transformation with the launch of four new channels in India. Be it genre specific channels like Epic TV that showcases content-based on Indian history, mythology and folklore in a contemporary style, Investigation Discovery features true crime stories or Zindagi’s issue-based and finite drama, from Pakistan, the expansion of the banquet of entertainment channels in Hindi GEC made a strong connect with the audience and garnered high rating from the moment they went on air.

“The Hindi entertainment space is cluttered with channels that are similar in their content and offerings. Our research revealed that Indian viewers have immense appetite to watch true investigation and crime-based narratives if presented properly. We identified this vacuum and created a segment within the Hindi entertainment genre. Steering this directional shift, we launched Investigation Discovery that has set an unprecedented trend and captured the imagination of India viewer with its inimitable content. The channel at present reaches to 28 million subscribers and is being viewed by 6.8 million people every week,” Rahul Johri, executive VP and general manager, South Asia and Southeast Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific says.

Launched in August 2014, the channel airs shows that are based on crime like missing, kidnap, homicide, fraud, twisted minds, evil kin and many others.

“The Indian television space has been ruled by daily soaps with very little differentiation between programmes on different channels. Today’s viewer is aware and wants to watch television of his choice at a time suitable to them. There is gradual shift in the preference of the viewers. We’ve recognised this change,” Johri says.

The much talked about genre specific channel Epic TV, which is backed by Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra, created a lot of buzz for offering fiction and non-fiction shows based on Indian history, folklore and mythology. It aired 13 finite infotainment shows created in a contemporary manner on its launch day. Where Epic TV and Investigation Discovery set the trend of genre specific Hindi GECs, Zindagi came with realistic and issue-based drama.

“Expansion happens when there is latent need for change. Our research told us that there are people who wanted to see the content that is devoid of melodrama, has an independent and more evolved style of storytelling and has characters that are relatable. That is how Zindagi was born, to address the entertainment needs of this evolved and mature audiences. We should be prepared to see further segmentation in the Hindi GEC space,” Priyanka Datta, business head, Zindagi, tells you.

The channel became a trailblazer for airing finite shows from Pakistan and probably that was the turning point of 2014; The change in the fiction consumption habit of the audiences.

“The channel gives its viewers an alternative viewing experience with differentiated content and finite daily shows. Indian audiences have been accustomed to viewing shows that go on for years. Here, there is a channel that has shows with defined start and end date and most of the shows finishing with only 23-26 episodes. There are many more such differentiated elements that one will find in the content,” Datta says adding that this is the reason why so many people love their shows.

Within a month of its launch, the channel’s flagship shows — Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Humsafar, Aunn Zara, Maat, Mere Katil Mere Dildaar became so popular that viewers demanded re-runs.

“The response from viewers pan India has been phenomenal. Social networking sites are abuzz with praise. The simplicity in which everything is portrayed, great talent, awesome scripts and music have been the talk of the industry since its launch. Content is king and all shows that have been shown so far have appealed to audiences of all ages,” Datta says.

Another channel Sony Pal, that went on air from September 1, 2014, is slowly picking up on the viewership graph with its popular shows like Sinhasan Battisi (story of Raja Vikramaditya’s struggle), Pia Basanti Re (a girl from low class earns her status through hard work) etc. Aimed at telling stories of traditional yet modern Indian women from all walks of life, Sony Pal is the third channel after Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and SAB TV from Multi Screen Media (MSM). Having Juhi Chawla as the brand ambassador gave boost to the channel.

And it was not just the launch of four new channels; The TV space saw some new faces making news. Everest’s Shamata Anchan has made a place for herself on the small screen as has Rannvijay Singh whose performance inPukar… has been lauded. After the success of Anil Kapoor’s 24, this year saw some big names like Anurag Kashyap making Yudh starring Amitabh Bachchan. Though the 20 episode tele-series got a luke warm response from the viewers, it has definitely opened up a new era on the Indian television.

The year also saw the comeback of stars like Sandhya Mridul in Private Investigator;  Sumeet Sachdev in Yeh Hai Mohabattein; Gudip and Arjun Punj in Diya Aur Baati Hum; Vivek Mushran in Nisha Aur Uske Cosuins. Here’s hoping that 2015 will bring in even better content-based shows for its audience.

(The article was published in The Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/show-time/small-space-big-dreams.html).

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