Quotient of entertainment being re-defined, believes Lulla

Indiantelevision.com's series of interviews with the speakers of next week's FRAMES 2003 convention continues with SET's Executive VP Sunil Lulla briefly holding forth on the state of content and what we can expect from it.

Lulla will be part of the discussion panel which will debate on 'Television Programming: Getting the right mix'.

The last year has seen a large number of big budget programmes being launched by all channels. Also, a lot of big film personalities are set to launch their TV careers. Are the investments in these stars justified? Will it reap returns for the channels?

Understanding viewers' needs and the ability to tap into them is more important to the style, buzz value and pizzazz that big scale productions and stars may bring. A big personality is no sure shot to success. The TV industry has spawned many a talent, which is no less a household name and in equal footing too.

Hence the ability to create the magic out of consumer understanding; the ability to weave magic around the art of story telling and the ability to break a format - will drive success better.

The lure of cable & satellite's wide reach and growing popularity is an invitation for larger investment. It's a natural extension for the movie industry. However, the rigour of the TV industry is quite different. Those who adapt successfully, will see the fruits of patience bear out.

What is the next stage of evolution in TV programming?

We should expect to see segmentation of General Entertainment needs. Reality - in the positive way of life can grow. Integration to other forms of communication and entertainment will grow. On the other hand - getting people to grip the edge of the seat, shed a tear, rip a rib with laughter will not change.

We are seeing the way in which sports is becoming more entertaining; with the advent of so many news channels, we should see news becoming more entertaining. Hence, the category of general entertainment will see the quotient of entertainment being re-defined.

Hence, the extension of entertainment into reality and into other parts of our life, should be the next step.

What is going to drive viewership in the coming years?

There are no simple answers. Viewers are going to fragment and their tastes are going to evolve. Staying on the edge of understanding their needs will drive viewership. The extension of entertainment into their lives via telecom and reality - will drive viewership. India will not change dramatically, as large parts of India are yet to be exposed to cable and satellite TV as yet. The upscale modern part of India has a different set of needs and the sub urban parts of India may lag. On the whole, therefore, the ability to segment and differentiate will be a driving force. The quality of entertainment continues to change; the essence does not!

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