Television

Veni, vidi, non vici: Shows that didn't last on TV in 2015

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MUMBAI: They came, they saw, they failed to conquer!

While there are a few set formulae for shows to work on television, it is unlikely that all that go on air manage to get viewers’ patronage, specially in the wake of the many entertainment options available today.

Moreover, gone are the days when broadcasters and production houses launched TV series that ran endlessly for years. With the changing time, change in people’s mindset and growing competition in the television space, creators want their shows to have top recall value. Bringing back to back shows with new concepts and ideologies is what’s trending these days. In this era that is identified with instant acceptance and instant rejection as well as fads galore where variety is the spice of life, it doesn’t take long for viewers to reject shows that don’t match up to their expectations. And more and more broadcasters are choosing not to milk the shows that aren’t turning out to be cash cows. 

Multiple shows are churned out every year on Indian television across genres and channels. While some hit the ratings jackpot, some are met with disdain and are yanked off air.

Let’s take a look at the fiction shows on Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) that failed to stand the test of time in 2015 for various reasons.

A recent announcement by Star Plus may have come as a surprise to many. After a runtime of just two months, the channel pulled out its musical romantic series Badtameez Dil, which is produced by Swastik Pictures. While the show was low on ratings on the channel despite being appreciated for the content and quality, it was rather popular on Star’s OTT platform Hotstar. And hence the show was shifted from a linear to a digital channel.

A source in Star Plus asserted, “The reason behind the show going off air was that it failed to generate sustainable ratings. Another reason for Badtameez Dil going off so soon was to pave the way for Balaji Telefilms’ Kuch Toh Hai Tere Mere Darmiyaan.” 

That said, another show by the same production house called Manmarziyan on Star Plus was launched in April. While it was lauded for its content, it failed on the ratings graph as a result of which it was wrapped up after a four month run on the channel.

Romance and drama aside, even the comedy genre was not spared from viewers’ apathy. Sab’s comedy show Peterson Hill, produced by Garima Productions, was pulled off air due to low ratings despite having a cast like Rohit Roy, Sucheta Khanna and Ashwin Mushran.

A finite series Gulmohar Grand produced by Sunshine Productions was launched on Star Plus with a bank of 26 episodes in May. However, the channel pulled it off after airing 17 episodes.

Sab pulled down four of its shows on 19 July this year. The first one to bite the dust was the weekend comedy showHansi Hi Hansi Mil Toh Lein, which was launched on 29 March. The second show titled Rumm Pumm Po hit the screens on 6 June and was wrapped up within 43 days. The game show titled Sab Ka Sapna Money Money, which started from 26 April went off-air in four months too. Rukawat Ke Liye Khed Hai, which launched on 26 April, was the fourth show that ended on the same date.

A channel source informed Indiantelevision.com that Sab’s Hansi Hi Hansi Mil Toh Lein was revamped from theThe Great Indian Family Drama. “We tried to tweak the format and content to make it better. The channel’s weekend shows like Rumm Pumm Po and Sab Ka Sapna Money Money were part of the channel’s experimentation with content and formats within the genre of comedy,” the source said.

Sab’s sister channel Sony Entertainment Television also had its share of shows that didn’t last in 2015. The channel launched the romantic drama soap opera Mooh Boli Shaadi on 23 February and pulled it down within four months. Dil Ki Baateien Dil Hi Jane also met with the same fate.

Zee TV’s Service Wali Bahu, which also went on air on 23 February this year in the 6.30 pm slot, also adds to the list. A source in the Zee programming team said, “The 6.30 pm time slot is still in an establishing stage and there is no certain phenomenon, which has proved to be sustainable. The programming team decided not to elongate the existing show. Produced by Village Boy Production Service Wali Bahu and was replaced by Sarojini in 6:30 pm slot.”

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com on the reasons why some shows fail to make a mark, Deepti Bhatnagar Production founder and CEO Deepti Bhatnagar said, “I always believed that creators start the show with one concept but with so many changes taking place in the show, they lose the plot. Once you lose the plot of the show, it stops working for the audience because producers don’t really stick to the story.”

Elaborating further, she added, “Also another reason I believe is that we don’t really work on character. Pick any Hollywood show like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, every character is well connected with the audience, which is missing here. Nowadays so many channels are launching so many shows and some don’t know what they are actually making. So, one has to work on that.”

Sunshine Production founder and series director Sudhir Sharma asserted, “People have a lot many choices these days. It’s not that we don’t have good content. We do have good writers in the industry. While shows today have a good story line, the characters, which are essential medium of connection, are not well researched.”

Director’s Kut Production director Rajan Shahi said, “If there are shows, which are going off air in a short span of time, then there are also shows like Tarak Mehta Ka Olta Chasma, Diya Aur Bati Hum, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and Balika Vadhu, which have been running for a few years. So there are shows, which are sustaining for a longer period. Broadcasters and creators are trying to experiment with genres and subjects. They sometimes hit the mark and sometimes don’t.”

Shahi was of the opinion that this also had a lot to do with market changes. “I think today competition is severe in the industry. Moreover, what we would like to see and what is actually working on Indian television is very different. We are going back and doing stories that we have been done 10 years back. It’s all about the results at the end of day and the turnaround time for it has to be faster,” he voiced.

With increasing competition in the Hindi GEC space, rather than experimenting and introducing twists and turns into story lines of shows that don’t work, channels nowadays prefer to take them off air.

Platinum Media CEO Basabdatta Chowdhuri said, “The content pipeline has improved over the years. Earlier the content supply was not abundant but now that pipeline has improved. It is far more possible to change the programmes more often than earlier. In today’s time, we have enough production houses that produce multiple shows. If the advertiser doesn’t find the show attractive, they can’t make business from it. So ultimately the broadcaster will replace the show with some new shows.”

Fiction shows are going off air on the basis of performance. Channels are extremely careful and protective about the ratings of their time slots and a lot of money is being poured into research. Madison COO Karthik Laxminarayan said, “If a show is not performing, channels are going back to the drawing board to re-invent them as they are aware that once you lose a viewer, you have to work very hard to get them back. So it’s better to give them something new and keep them engaged rather than keep giving them more of the same non-working shows.”

He further added, “Earlier the reason they used to run the show for long was to amortise their fixed costs namely the sets and realise profits from their fictions but currently as the market is up and inventory sold is higher than usual, the money is coming in anyways and hence they don’t mind spending that extra on new sets etc. This is a short term strategy and will soon change as bottom lines will plummet and bleed eventually.”

With more and more entertainment options at the audiences’ fingertips these days, channels will have to pay more heed to the kind of content that the viewer wants.

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