Weepy soaps, it seems, have overstayed their welcome, and a serial overhaul on Indian television is long overdue. Or at least that’s what findings of a study conducted by Starcomm and Hansa Research reveal. The survey — across 1,500 respondents and six cities (including non-metros like Bhopal and Moradabad, and Kolhapur) — says that two out of three TV viewers (66 per cent) are bored, and think the serials are never-ending. Nine out of 10 viewers want a change from the saas-bahu fare, and half the viewership is confused about plots and storylines.
The audience, evidently, is keen on content and will respond positively to interestingly mounted family dramas. Like Roy says, we have been exposed to enough American programming, and “Indians are ready for bolder sequences, and more risqué shows”.
Roy says unless it’s a venture that excites him — “I enjoy reality shows” — he isn’t willing to look back at TV just yet. But he’s willing to make exceptions for hosting, say, another Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.
Perhaps vindicating all smug American sitcom watchers, three out of five respondents of the survey demanded faster, more progressive serials that have some semblance to the real world. Respondents also sought exposure to different cultures and foreign locales.
Sukesh Motwani, programming head for the recently launched channel Zee Next, says his target audience is in the 15-25 age group — that bracket which constitutes a sizeable chunk of the TV audience. And in accordance, “the protagonists are aspiring, often small-town youngsters, who are different from irreverent metro youth”.
Amit Agnihotri, co-founder Exchange 4 Media Group (a media analysis and publishing company) says, “The current saas-bahu format has been around for six-seven years now, and this has let to monotony in the primetime general entertainment channels.”
Motwani concedes there is a conscious move on their channels’ part to stay away from saas-bahu soaps. But at the same time making an effort to not alienate older viewers — be it a parent or an elder sibling. That’s because, as Motwani puts it, “Indians are still suckers for emotion".
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