With fresh content resuming on television, the audience is slowly getting back to the screens and realigning their viewing patterns. According to Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer for Hindi Mass Entertainment at Viacom18, the concept of prime time and non-prime time has disappeared.
“We are adapting to the new normal and collectively developing a safe production environment as it is need of the hour. We are trying to find opportunities to associate with brands, keeping crises at bay, and taking one thing at a time. For instance, viewership last week was good but we saw a variation this week. So it is volatile and we are working around it,” she said.
Speaking about the audience’s response since the return of fresh content, Sharma said they have impressive ratings for prime-time content. “Our prime-time fiction shows have fared well. Choti Sarrdaarni, Barrister Babu, Shakti — Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki have done great and are among our top-rated shows. The overall industry has mounted shows and landed approximate ratings between 1.3 and 1.4 TVRs. So, it is a challenge for everybody,” she explained.
According to Sharma, the competition is not only with GECs but also with channels in other categories and number of situational factors. “The current scenario is such that you are competing not only with other GECs but also with news channels and movie channels in terms of getting viewers’ eyeballs. To add to this, the lockdown has brought about a massive change in people’s routines. The lady of the house might be busy completing cooking or the men can be busy catching up on news. While you want to believe that entertainment will work as escapism, several other factors are still bothering the audience. I am happy that prime time is doing well but we wish to now focus on overall growth.”
“What is more important is to tell the audience good stories that they will find appealing. There are many concerns, for example, whether people will watch prime time as the evenings are now spent doing cooking chores, catching up on news or taking online classes. We are just focusing on delivering exciting content and hoping for things to go back to normal soon,” added Sharma.
Speaking about the channel’s new offering Naagin 5, she said the idea behind the new season was to reboot after the absence. “We had to discontinue shoots for 3-4 months, and with no new content being churned out, viewers turned to watch re-runs or erstwhile shows for their entertainment needs. They are still adapting to the change and realigning their viewing patterns with the availability of new content. Given the scenario, we decided to end the previous season and launch a new season with an interesting storyline. The whole idea is to reboot and restart since the continuity was broken.”
She said the new season would be exciting for the viewers and enrich the viewer’s experience with a promising storyline, cutting-edge special effects and finely etched characters. “In the previous seasons, we highlighted different phases and events that took place in Naagin's life. With Naagin 5, we will narrate a fascinating tale of love, revenge and passion,” she added.
Khatron ke Khiladi- Made in India, the channel’s popular non-fiction show, was launched recently. Asked if this might overwhelm the audience since season 10 just concluded, Sharma said this was a natural progression. She said the strategy was to give the audience great content in an innovative and fun way.
“We extended Khatron ke Khiladi because we could air 12 episodes and then had to take a break. We imagined that the extension would be a natural progression. The audience had missed out on the content for three months and hence it won’t be exhausting for them. If you see, every other channel's properties run into 30-40 episodes. We had shot Khatron Ke Khiladi in Bulgaria. But owing to the break, we decided to make it in India to get more visibility,” she added.
Speaking about Bigg Boss, which will be launched in the same month as IPL this time, she said Bigg Boss was always scheduled to be launched during this time of the year. “It is going to be business as usual for us and we will be launching new shows during the IPL season. Having said that, our aim is to keep the business buoyant and maintain revenues. Hence, Bigg Boss is the most important part of our programming strategy,” she added.