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Never-ending prime time sagas

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Posted: 01 July 2006 at 10:42pm | IP Logged
Never-ending prime time sagas
Why are the audience, advertisers, production houses and channels hooked to long-running shows on TV?
 
SOMASHUKLA SINHA WALUNJKAR
Posted online: Sunday, July 02, 2006 at 0000 hours IST
 
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 Six years ago, on this day, the fortunes of a general entertainment channel changed for good, a production company's bottomlines improved, many stars twinkled in the television firmament and long-running Indian soaps came to be the order of the way. Traditional homegrown protagonists, scheming in-laws, devious other women with interesting accessories, completed the 'happy family picture' that fetched channels their TVRs. Sure there have been many times in the six years since the three-hankie tearjerkers redefined the mores of Indian television but audiences (and advertisers) still faithfully cling to long-running soaps (think Star Plus' Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasauti Zindagi Kay, Kahin To Hoga, Kumkum, Bhabhi, Sony's just packed up-three year old Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, 8-year old CID and Zee's now-off air Astitva and Piya Ka Ghar which aired for two years, Tumhari Disha which is one and half year old, Star One's soon-to-conlude Remix which is almost two years old, Sahara One's Woh Rehnewali Mahalon Ki which is over a year old). Predictably most of their audience share in TAM also proves that suitable dramatic twists, a mandatory 20-year leap in the story and repackaging works wonders. This has, been after all Ekta Kapoor's (of Balaji Telefilms) staple strategy to rejuvenate these serials from time to time. She says, "Shows like Santa Barbara and Dallas have run into decades and have their share of fans. In India, it's gladdening to have people connect to soaps for six years, it shows that if a story is well-told the audience is loyal to the show."
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Ajay Vidyasagar, executive vice president, marketing, Star India says, "We have realised over the past six years that people like to have three-four shows which they consume habitually. Kyunki, Kasautii, Kahaani etc have been the mainstay of the Hindi TV household for six years now. What makes these click is that these shows are exemplary models of storytelling which revolve around the family and use the tool of riveting drama —making it part aspirational, part entertainment and part real." Arch rival Zee too, had its share of long-running soaps (Tara ran for four years, Banegi Apni Baat for three, Andaaz for three and its non-fiction show Antaakshari turned 10 a year ago when it went off air). Says Ashwini Yardi, head of programming, Zee: "We have had our share of long-running shows, but when we feel a show is slipping in the popularity ratings, the natural process is to end it. Astitva, Piya Ka Ghar were very popular, but we thought the channel needed different shows and their success is reflected in the TVRs. We had thought bringing back Hum Paanch which had run successfully for five years would change things, but the show hasn't worked well this time around." The channel now has plans of bringing back the evergreen Antaakshari and a junior version of Sa Re Ga Ma (a talent-hunt show that aired for a decade on the channel) —Little Champs, very soon. Sony's long-running Kkusum (it aired for four and half years) went off air recently, so did Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin. Sony has found two new serials, — Vaidehi and Akela. "Replacing a longrunning soap like Jassi was tough, but audiences look for good shows," feels Aroona Irani, producer of Vaidehi. Sony has also brought back its eight-year old show Boogie Woogie. Sahara One CEO Purnendu Bose says: "A long running show connects better with the audiences but it is essential to re-invent and keep the story alive. Advertisers prefer longrunning fiction shows from a long term perspective. Companies like HLL, P&G, Pespi, Dabur have been advertising with us for more than nine months and some since the inception of our daily soaps." Agrees Vidyasagar: "For an advertiser it is important to ensure that he uses the most effective platform to communicate the brand message to the right kind of consumers. Our longrunning shows have been the best bet to launch a new product or sustain existing ones."

Kapoor sums it up: "You have to keep the audience rivetted. So, an element of freshness is important, even in six-year old shows." That in turn gives channels a prime time winner!

sumiyyakhan Goldie
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Posted: 06 July 2006 at 12:32pm | IP Logged
thanx!
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