New Hindi GECs lack creative flair, appeal

Established titles such as Anupamaa continued to dominate viewership rankings.
Established titles such as Anupamaa continued to dominate viewership rankings.


Viewers are dissatisfied and demand more from traditional television channels

The performance of Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) offerings in recent times have witnessed muted response, with a majority of shows folding up within just three to six months, while established titles such as Anupamaa continued to dominate viewership rankings.

Media consultancy Ormax said unaided awareness levels of premier Hindi GECs during their launch week have fallen by over 50% in the last decade.

Viewers are dissatisfied with the lack of fresh and engaging content, amid the rise of over-the-top (OTT) platforms offering abundant alternatives, it said. Now users demand more even from traditional television channels, it added.

Since 2019, leading broadcasters have launched over 200 shows for the Hindi GEC segment, but less than 25% are on-air. Similarly, ou of the over 130 shows that were launched since 2021, only around 40 are still on-air.

“Television will survive, but creators will have to look at the ideal mix of content that also brings in profits. For example, non-fiction is an extremely important part of the TV experience but broadcasters have to be judicious and see if it can be monetized. Fiction, on the other hand, engages different target groups, across regions and not just for Hindi. We’ve seen largely successful shows in regional languages," business head for SET, Hindi Movies, Sony SAB and Sony PAL, Neeraj Vyas said.

With a post-covid revival in outdoor activities, along with a division in viewership extending across both digital and traditional platforms, the impact has been across all genres of shows, said Vibhu Agarwal, founder of OTT app Atrangii, which also owns TV channels.

“Television audiences are largely loyal but the mentality has changed and a lot of shows are doing better as catch-up on streaming. Plus, (in case of new shows), while you can stretch a show for a couple of months, you can no longer have 500- 1,000 episodes," he added.

Keerat Grewal, a partner at Ormax Media, agreed. According to the firm’s weekly tracker of new Hindi GEC launches, the Unaided Awareness of top HGECs in launch weeks has dropped by over 50% over the last decade. “Simply put, this dip is indicative of viewer dissatisfaction with the category. With little content innovation and the perception of dragging serials looking like clones of one another, viewer satisfaction is continuously dipping since 2016. And a large contributor to this issue is the category’s dependence on unrealistic plot twists, to sustain the shows on a daily basis."

“Over time, audiences have rejected this approach as it has deviated from being purposeful narratives that could establish an emotional connection with them," Grewal added.

Broadcasters and platforms are also in a state of flux with all trying to woo viewers having a wide range of choices, while combating declining sponsorship deals, Aradhana Bhola, managing director, Fremantle India, known for shows such as Indian Idol, said.

“The choice for viewers is abundant, with exposure to all types of content not just for mainstream Hindi, but also regional content that is gaining favour. Plus, international content is now available with dubbing or sub-titles. Viewer options have increased tremendously. As content creators, we have got to be agile and adapt ideas and improve the production quality to compel viewers to choose our creations from among their many options," she added.

Sandeep Gupta, chief operating officer of broadcast at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd said the changing preferences and trends of the audience pose a constant challenge for broadcasters who strive to accurately anticipate and cater to evolving viewer tastes. “If viewers don’t connect with a particular show in the first few episodes, they don’t have the patience to invest their time for a longer period. On the other hand, broadcasters too have limited patience in developing the storylines and characters due to the prevailing market ecosystem where there is a consistent pressure on GRP deliveries. In general, the attention span of viewers has also reduced due to the emergence of short format content on social media platforms. Even though this is more prevalent in urban areas, rural households also have at least one smartphone at home where consumption on YouTube and Facebook is common," Gupta pointed out.

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