In a genre dominated by Saas-Bahu soaps and talent or reality shows and where age old formulae are used time and again to create shows that may have more chances to clock in ratings, there are certain channels that have started to experiment with content. Despite the risks involved, many Hindi GECs decided to break the monotony and try to create shows off the beaten track during the year 2014. A majority of these shows were in the fiction space which stood out, not to say that there wasn’t any experimentation in the non-fiction space but nothing that was extremely different. We take a look Hindi GEC shows that took a path less travelled in 2014.
The fiction space saw a few new shows that might be experimental, but also can be seen as TV channels looking to change the direction of content in the future. Another thing that these broadcasters looked to test through these new shows was the way the audiences reacted to finite shows. Although viewers of Hindi GECs are accustomed to watching shows that not only run into hundreds of episodes but also run for years together, some of the new shows that these broadcasters tested was with was short series shows. 24, an adaptation of the US series, (which led the way last year with its first season which aired on Colors in October 2013) concluded in December 2013. The show starring Anil Kapoor, who was also in the original American series and holds the rights for the show in India, is set to continue with the release of a second season in the coming year. Colors is said to have purchased the broadcast rights for the series at an estimated Rs.150 crore. Continuing the step on the experimentation path was Multi Screen Media (MSM)’s channel Sony Entertainment Television (SET) which launched the show Yudh which was launched on July 14, 2014. The psychological thriller series featured Amitabh Bachchan and was directed by one of the top directors in India Anurag Kashyap. The show is said to be one of the most expensive fiction show ever made for Indian television, with each episode costing an estimated Rs.3 crore according to media reports. The 20 episode series concluded a month later in August. Such a series was not only the first for the channel but also for Amitabh Bachchan who was introduced in a fiction series for the first time. Zee TV on the other hand decided to go with the superhero way with its fiction show Maharakshak Aryan which it launched recently on November 1, 2014. The superhero series, like some other international fiction series, is about a college student that realizes his supernatural powers after he turns 18. The premise of series is the classic good vs evil and is on the weekends at the 7 pm slot. With visual effects and graphics the show is different from the ones Zee TV has featured till now. A few days later on November 3 Star Plus launched its much anticipated show Everest which was created by award winning film maker Ashutosh Gowariker. One of the most ambitious projects for the channel, the show which is also a finite series was filmed in locations above 17,590 feet above sea level. For a show to be filmed outside a studio and in extreme conditions is something of a first as far as Hindi GECs are concerned. The show is placed during weekdays at 10 pm and has music produced by top Indian composer A.R. Rahman. Apart from Everest, Star Plus had also launched another unique series Airlines – Har Udaan Ek Toofan on August 24 which is based on the lives of two pilots, one of which is actress Tulip Joshi make her debut on TV. Yet another finite series of about 26 episodes, the story looks at a woman fights the order by joining as a first officer in the airlines industry and goes on to become a pilot despite tribulations. Like OK recently launched an action drama show Pukaar on November 24 and stars Rannvijay Singh in his first fiction series. The show is around a young army officer who is out to seek justice for his family. The miniseries is on Monday and Tuesday at 8:30pm and marks the return director Vipul Amrutlal Shah on television.How did they fare? While it is definitely encouraging to see Hindi GECs taking different paths and experiment with new content despite the risks, the audiences finally are the judges of the content. Most of these series on the channels have yet to achieve the success of conventional soaps and other programming and finite nature of the content is something that Indian audiences have yet to open up to. Most of the differentiated fiction series launched this year faced the same fate as 24 in the previous year, they failed to deliver in terms of ratings. Yudh suffered the same fate as it gathered only 1.4 TVMs in the first week and the ratings failed to pick up much viewership till the end. In an interview recently with exchange4media N.P. Singh, CEO, MSM said, “We experimented with a lot of new content, the one with Mr. Bachchan. For the first time he appeared on television in a fiction show called Yudh. Perhaps it was way ahead of its time, it did not do too well from a ratings perspective but nonetheless we are very proud that we again were the pioneers of bringing this kind of content to television in India”. It however managed to rope in brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, OLX.in followed by Honda, Maruti Suzuki, Nutrela, Syska LED, Ultratech and Goibibo.com. However, Aryan got off to a good start with 3.2 TVTs in week 44 but gradually has started to see viewership for the series slip away slowly. According to data sourced from TAM subscribers, at the current week 50 (December 7 – 13, 2014), its ratings stand at a poor 1.8 TVTs. It still remains to be seen if the show can pick itself up and do well in the coming weeks. The show is sponsored by PC Jewellers as their powered by sponsor. The only exception to the fate of these new age fiction series on Hindi GECs is Everest which has seen a decent traction of viewership since the start. The show started with a decent start at 2.8 TVTs in week 45 but had gradually picked up in the next week to 3.1 TVTs and went higher the following weeks. It only saw a minor bump in week 49 where it declined to 3.4 TVTs from 3.9 TVTs in week 48. However, in the current week 50 it saw its ratings rise up again to 3.8 TVTs. Everest has also had a good number of brands associated with it including ‘Fair & Lovely’ as the presenting sponsor, Godrej Ezee as the co-powered by sponsor and Vinod Cookware as the Associate sponsor. While Everest may scale greater heights, Airlines still fails to take off. The series has stayed at in the range of 1.0 to 1.9 TVTs. In week 50 the series ratings currently stand at 1.9 TVTs and though it has grown since last week, it is unlikely to grow very high in terms of viewership. On the brand sponsorship front it has however hot better fortunes and has roped in Fortune cooking oil as the title sponsor, Havell’s as the co-title sponsor and Ariel as the co-sponsor for the show. Associate sponsors include Askmebazaar.com, Colgate Visible White, Maybelline, Parachute Advance and Sofy Bodylift. Pukaar has not had the best of starts in terms of viewership and has been seen slide down a slippery slope. The show started with 1.4 TVTs in week 48 but however slipped to 1.2 TVTs the following week and currently in week 50 stands at 0.9 TVTs. The show will have to do much better in the following weeks to come. The show has roped in LIC as the powered by sponsor. While 2014 has been a year for experimentation for Hindi GECs, not all have been successful in getting the audience hooked on to them. However, we can definitely see these channels trying their hand at different ideas which are off the beaten path and looking towards creating shorter format shows.