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Traditional media will continue to hold the lion's share in Indian M&E industry: Manisha Sharma of Viacom18

Sharma spoke to about Colors' content strategy, competition, and the channel's new offerings

Manisha Sharma

Traditional media will always be important and will continue to hold the lion’s share in the Indian media and entertainment industry, said Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18.

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Sharma also said that the festive season always pushes broadcasters to bring marquee reality TV properties to television screens to attract audiences and advertisers alike. As a result, the competition is always fierce between channels during this phase, but as long as the content is powerful, it will always find its audience.

"Competition is always healthy, but it is the content which is the deciding factor. Yes, audiences do play a role as they have a lot of choices on TV these days, but they will always stick to your network if the content is good," said Sharma. 

According to her, GEC channels today not only face competition from the industry but also from digital channels, news and movie channels. Asked if the growing OTT audience is bothering broadcasters, she said, "Colors has always been heavily driven by content that our viewers demand and can relate to. This strategy has also allowed us to change our viewing preferences, we continue to strive harder and stay relevant."

"I believe that traditional media will continue to hold the lion's share in the M&E industry of India as we witness growth in cable and satellite penetration across the country. Even now, in many households, television is still at the centre of the home and is a significant part of family time. However, there are changing patterns in content consumption, therefore, we’re seeing broadcast players starting to realign their goals, and adopt agile approach towards content development," she added. 

How does the channel find a balance between fiction and reality content

Colors recently launched the 10th season of its dance reality show, 'Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa'. It also airs other popular reality shows like 'Khatron Ke Khiladi' and 'BiggBoss'.

Upon being asked whether fiction or non-fiction works better for the channel, Sharma said they have tried to find a balance between the two for prime-time hours. "I believe that we have managed to achieve a balance between our fiction and non-fiction shows with both of them successfully working in tandem and thus making Colors one of the leading Hindi Entertainment Channels since its launch," Sharma said.

"With Naagin 6 and Khatron Ke Khiladi 12, the channel is currently the number 1 destination for weekend viewership; with the launch of ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’ and ‘Bigg Boss’ later, we only look to boost our dominance in the category," she added.

Sharma also spoke about some factors which need to be kept in mind for non-fiction shows. She said, "Non-fiction shows are aired for a finite time, therefore it is essential to focus on getting out the real-life stories of the talent, so that viewers instantly connect with them. There must be a special emphasis on casting the right mix of contestants to generate excitement and intrigue."

She said at Colors they choose to bring forward those stories that are a reflection of society, that the viewers can relate to and enjoy. 

Expectations from Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa

The channel is bringing back the show after a gap of five years. It must be noted that the show first was being broadcast on Sony TV. However, Colors purchased the rights in 2012 and has been airing it since. 

According to Sharma, while five years is a big gap, the show has always had its set of loyal audience base. "This is one of the most successful entertainment formats on Indian television and we are relishing our long-lasting relationship with BBC Worldwide Productions and look forward to many more such successful associations with them," Sharma said on a concluding note.

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