Reality stronger than fiction!

Published on Nov 18, 2006 12:55 PM IST

Soaps, the traditional lifeblood of television, have been left behind by reality shows, starting from KBC, tells Piyush Roy.

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None | ByPiyush Roy (HT City), New Delhi

In the boardroom of various channels, plans are being drawn around reality shows as an increasing number of channels are seeing the reality TV genre as a better way of boosting the TRPs than the traditional lifeblood on TV — the soap.
Sandiip Sikcand, creative director, Sony, is doing the same — thinking of ways to take the channel back to the No 2 slot it occupied on the cable TV rankings till a few months ago.

Eleven of Sony’s top 20 shows are reality based. They are led by Bigg Boss and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, both of which, with TRP ratings of 1.8, are drawing larger audiences than its leading soap, CID (TRP — 1.4 to 1.7).

Sandiip, like other players in Indian television today, is convinced that reality-based shows are better bets than daily soaps to hold on to audiences and the advertisers. The ratings, drawn up by Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd (aMap), are for August 1-November 5, 2006.

The umbrella term ‘reality show’ includes game shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), talent contests like SaReGaMaPa and cameraas-big brother exercises like Bigg Boss. Zee TV’s SaReGaMaPa  L’il Champs finale scored 4.7, the highest ratings for a show on the channel, edging past its lead soap Saat Phere (3.7)

All top 20 shows of Star One are reality based, with The Great Indian Laughter Challenge 2 and Nach Baliye 2 scoring 1.6 to 2.4, ahead of its leading soaps Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka and Kadvee Khattee Meethi, both of which currently hover below 1.0.

While Nach Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge put the then-fledgling Star One among the country’s top four satellite channels, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and Bigg Boss are now doing the same for Sony.

Boogie Woogie (Sony), Rin Mera Star Super Star (Star Plus), and Cinestars  (Zee TV) are more such reality shows proving bigger draws than daily soaps on those channels; two more — Fame X (SAB) and Superstars (Sahara One) are in the pipeline.

Runaway success KBC established a reputation for non-soap content as programming with serious potential, setting off industry-wide interest in reality shows and setting the ground for the likes of Nach Baliye (Star One) and Indian Idol (Sony).

“Reality-based shows draw almost the entire family. Viewers develop bonds with certain contestants and decide their fate by voting.

This genre seems to have clicked with the Indian viewers,” says Tapan Pal, CEO, aMap. Reality shows now run six days a week, opposed to five for soaps.

Vikas Bahl, business head, SAB, is more cautious: “Unlike soaps, reality shows can’t be carried on indefinitely. Depending on them as mainstays is not advisable for a channel’s long-term health”.

Meanwhile, the bull run on reality continues. Endemol, which conceptualises reality programming globally, entered India with Fame Gurukul last year, and has since had eight of its formats adapted across channels, including Bigg Boss.

“Two of our recent shows, 1 vs. 100 and Set For Life, have had Indian channels queuing up for an Indian adaptation,” said Endemol India MD Rajesh Kamat. That’s two more to watch out for.

E-mail author: piyush.roy@

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