There are three kinds of daily soaps on Indian television.
1. The saas bahu ones that are watched by relatively a little mature or older generation where the bahu faces all the hurdles in life, sheds millions of litres of tears and somehow wins every battle in the end like a superwoman.
2. The urban rom-com ones with romance, laughter, youthfulness and also little bit of family drama and loads of vamps around.
3. The mythological and supernatural ones – These are the best investments by a channel or producer for getting returns for its entire or long run is almost guranteed in today’s date barring a few exceptions.
Now, while the 1st category shows are in plenty on air, the 3rd category of shows are increasing in double numbers at the interval of every few months.
And the 2nd category of shows are slowly decreasing. We are really in dearth of shows on TV that somehow appeal to the youth or urban viewers.
Now what might be the reason? The reason is, they are risky in today’s date. TRPs aren’t an easy food for these shows.
On the other hand they get huge popularity among viewers on social media. These shows actually show you the gap between the TRP audience and the digital audience.
Now to understand why such shows are a risky bait, one needs to understand the TRP system in India.
Trending, promoting or signing petitions doesn’t really help in increasing a show’s TRP. Earlier TAM had been the organisation that determined the ratings of TV shows for a long time based on sampling. When it all started, the TRP meters installed with TV sets were concentrating mostly in urban areas and hence, content served also appealed to urban audience. Many viewers in today’s date often complain that TV probably had better content a few years ago than it has now. You had topics like marital rape and honour killing explored in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi 14 years ago! It makes you think, did we move ahead or took back steps?
Why Does Content That Appeals Youth Doesn’t Work On TV In The Long Run?
The content of TV changed because the TRP meters’ locations changed. After TAM, BARC took up. They increased the number of TRP meters to a few more thousands. And TRP meters started penetrating to the rural areas more and more. With more penetration into rural areas, urban topics now hardly sell on television. Rural audience do not connect with those. In today’s date probably shows like Sarabhai VS Sarabhai, Just Mohabbat, Dill Mill Gayye, Sanjeevani won’t work as they did then.
And hence, you have Naagin series ruling the charts along with every other channel coming up with a supernatural or ghost show – You have Tantra and Vish Ya Amrit : Sitara on Colors, Daayan on And TV, Nazar and Qayamat Ki Raat airing with great numbers on Star Plus and so on.
As much as the content of these shows are cringe worthy for the digital audience, they are loved by the TRP giving viewers. Also the fact that only a few thousand meters actually determine the viewership of a million viewers is a major limitation of the rating system. A person whose TV doesn’t have the meter installed is really not contributing to the TRP at all. So telling peers on twitter or instagram to watch your favourite show on TV instead of internet isn’t going to reflect on numbers unless your peer has a meter installed to his/her TV at home.
It is to be noted all the channels that used to serve youth content through daily soaps are either pulled down or they had to change their programming strategy to survive.
Star One – A channel that dished out youth shows like Dill Mill Gayye, Remix, Miley Jab Hum Tum, Geet Hui Sabse Paraayi, Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani was shut stop to pave way for Life OK and later Star Bharat with a complete makeover of programmes that would mainly appeal to targetted TRP viewers.
MTV and Channel V that once aired extremely popular shows like Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan 1 and 2 or Dil Dosti Dance stopped dishing out youth centric fiction shows after series of flops and now are relying on non-fiction content.
Star India and Viacom 18 launched a short digital version of their shows Sarabhai VS Sarabhai and Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan 3 on Hotstar and Voot but not on TV, probably because they realised these shows wont anymore work on TV as they did before. Sony had to pull the plug on its popular romantic show Dil Hi Toh Hai with Ekta Kapoor continuing it on AltBalaji’s digital platform only.
Shows like Bepannaah and Silsila Badalte Rishton Ka are replaced by Tantra and Vish Ya Amrit : Sitara on Colors. Obviously Colors lost a lot of digital following that the earlier two shows had. Tantra or Sitara hardly have that passionate following.
But, is that an economical loss for the channel? The answer is no. Shows are made and aired to earn revenue and they will run until they can produce that enough surplus revenue.
Earlier Colors’ 24 and Dev didn’t work on charts that well despite being great shows with outstanding content.
With 1.0 ratings, Bepannaah and Silsila aren’t going to make competition easy for Colors and hence, the decision to pull them off air comes in.
But then one can’t deny, content wise any day the earlier two shows are far better to the urban audience than the upcoming ones. But to rural viewers – extra marital affairs, fast speed metro centric life, complicated relationships or work life aren’t really something to connect to.
Digital viewers may blame Bepannaah’s always changing time slot for less TRPs. But broadcasters would say that the time slot for the same kept changing because of its fluctuating numbers.
Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors And Sony Entertainment Television are the major players in the Hindi GEC arena with Sony being the least TRP gainer for its daily soaps but soars high everytime Indian Idol or Kaun Banega Crorepati is on air.
But in case of the other 3 GECs, the daily soaps are important. In each of these channels, during prime time, the ad rates easily go up to a comfortable 6 digit number and more for a 10 to 30 seconds ad depending on time band, slot, ad length, package signed for, available discounts, format or type of ad (aston, video etc) and the ratings of the show.
How Much Twitter Popularity, Trending, Online Petitions Help Shows With Online Popularity?
Popularity is not equal to viewership. Supposedly, there are 1,00,000 people online on twitter and tweeting about Indian TV content everyday. And 98,000 of them are aware of a show called XYZ. That’s the show’s popularity.
But if only 8,000 of 1,00,000 are watching it, then that’s the viewership of the show which counts for revenue and the number is bad for a show in terms of digital viewership too.
Problem with Twitter and Instagram is that even if a few hundred people trend, with new softwares and technology using short cuts they can easily get lakhs of tweets in their kit and make them heard as well. That makes a lot of noise, get a lot of headlines but at the end of the day, number of tweets doesn’t matter, number of people do.
It’s easy to make a big noise on twitter. There are many celebrities who easily make to some big international celebrity fashion, style, fitness or popularity lists these days with some million tweets used to vote for them over a span of weeks but if one looks carefully, may be only 5 or 50 people in twitter have sat 24×7 and tweeted madly to get to the number they desired for their celeb. We need to remember the tweets are in millions but at the end of the day, the people who are tweeting are sometimes not even in double digits.
Hence, just determining the viewership contribution by seeing the chaos on twitter would be a wrong thing to do for a channel or a producer if they do not want to go bankrupt.
Let’s look at some of the trending history with regards to television before on internet –
1.The first show that saw the presence of digital viewers and a lot was said and protests were made when the lead actor left the show was – Kahiin To Hoga on Star Plus. Rajeev Khandelwal left the show owing to creative difference with the makers and his fans gave quite a lot of angry reactions then. They practically left the show with him, never turned back and never watched it again, however, the show still completed its run with a new male lead face who wasn’t even average in the craft of acting. This happened despite the on screen pair of Sujal and Kashish being a stupendous hit among the viewers. Rajeev Khandelwal’s last episode on the show aired on 19th May 2005 and the show aired its last on February 2007.
2.There was a lot of uproar on internet when the show Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha went off air on Colors. The fans of the show demanded more. The channel came up with a second season after a break. The 2nd season didn’t do that well on the charts and neither was great content wise as compared to the 1st season.
3.A lot of chaos took place when Madhubala Ek Ishq Ek Junoon took a leap killing off both the lead characters of the show (Vivian Dsena and Drashti Dhami). While the makers decided to keep Drashti in the show playing her parents’ daughter, Vivian Dsena was dropped out. But with fans’ pressure he was brought in, but the content of the show gradually degraded.
4. MTV’s Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan fans trended massively for months for a season 3 of the show. Viacom did listen to them but launched the season 3 on Voot instead of MTV. Their target audience was the youth, youth is in internet and Voot too is on internet. Fans’ wish was fulfilled and their pockets weren’t harmed either!
5. Sony TV’s Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi’s fans trended non stop to get their show back. The show always had been high on popularity on internet but the same numbers never reflected on the TRP chart. However, the show’s popularity could be seen on Sony’s official YouTube channel that crossed millions of views in few hours. Hence, Sony after a lot of dilemma listened to them and gave them a short series for approximately a month on TV. But that one didn’t work as well as the previous one even with the digital viewers. The mad craze was absent.
6. Naamkarann fans trended a lot for their show’s extension to avoid an abrupt end. However, they were not catered to by Star Plus. The show ended this May 2018 citing the reason that there wasn’t any story left. The show had taken its required generation leap before and the on screen lead couple was having a child when the show went off air.
7. Star Plus’ Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon had probably the biggest controversy tagging along with it. The show was a beautiful one throughout its entire run but when it ended, it made everyone unhappy, including the fans who rallied behind to make it end.
A large number of people trended #NoBarunNoIPKKND. Every publication in India also reported the same. Meanwhile, Barun Sobti shot his last and went for a vacation and shoot already had started with the new lead Viraf Patel. However, as pressure increased, channel abruptly without even notifying the crew, pulled the plug on the show with a disclaimer which roughly said that the channel is forced to shut down the show as the lead actor Barun Sobti didn’t want to play his role to pursue his career in films. No persuasion worked on him.
People went out of jobs without any notice and the disclaimer came as a shock for the fans who denied to watch the show without Barun. No one took pleasure in reading a disclaimer that was aired for no fault of Mr. Sobti.
Star Plus was later criticized for shutting down the show and blaming the actor for the same without giving chance to the new story and leads.
8. A lot of chaos was created when Karan Singh Grover’s contract ended and he left Qubool Hai on Zee TV. Actions and reactions happened and Zee blamed Karan Singh Grover for being unprofessional and reporting on the set while being drunk or with a hangover.
9. This story may sound funny but it erupted the strongest ever reaction from producer Ekta Kapoor. When Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil went off air, fans of the lead pair Harshad Chopda and Additi Gupta decided not to stay calm at all. They spammed every inbox, channel, producer and more so Ekta Kapoor. An angry Ekta had then promised the two actors’ fans to never cast them together again only because of them. Her exact post on Facebook was – “Dear harshad aditi fans, I dnt knw if u guys wl get this msg but its imperative I somehow reach u guys! its been 5 years u guys hv hounded me ! spamin my inbox my phone n twitter…just because of this I pROMISE NEVER to cast these 2 ACTORS! forgeT casting them togethEr! THANKU!”
Harshad had expressed ‘sorry’ for the same to media and Additi said she felt ’embarrassed and humiliated’ when people came to her talking about her fans’ mails.
This story is probably an extreme case that we hope doesn’t repeat ever with any celebrity.
10. Now there’s #DontEndBepannaah and #NoSurbhiNoIshqbaaaz or #NoSurbhiWithoutIshqbaaaz going on. Channels are hell bent on their decisions and the fans are hell bent to change their decisions.
Let’s see what happens in future, but Ishqbaaaz getting shut will not help Surbhi Chandna’s career except the pleasure or blame of hearing that the show got shut because of her popularity and even if she stays back, the numbers of the show after the upcoming wedding track is over will be difficult to increase.
And all this make things complicated for the decision makers. You see TV, TRP and Twitter Trends – Do not go along together and getting them together is quite a mission (probably impossible) at the present scenario!