Will ‘Everest’ be able to climb the peak?

MUMBAI: It all began nearly two years ago, when the numero uno channel Star Plus started brainstorming to develop a content which can break the clutter and should help in taking television to the next level.

To do so, it joined hands with one of the finest filmmakers - Ashutosh Gowariker to produce a series set against an extraordinary background of the magnificent Mount Everest.

Produced under Ashutosh Gowariker Productions Private Limited (AGPPL) banner, the show – ‘Everest’ is in line with the GEC’s strategy of offering innovative and differentiated content. It has been conceptualised, shot and presented on a scale never seen before on TV.

The channel re-defined television when it brought a talk show that spoke about social issues in Satyamev Jayate (SMJ) in 2012, and 2013 saw its mythological series Mahabharat. According to Star Plus general manager Gaurav Banerjee, ‘Everest’ is the next step.

With the first episode telecast on 3 November, spoke to people from the industry to know their views on the concept of the show and whether it will re-define television the way shows like SMJ and Mahabharat did in their respective genres.

According to Havas Media managing director Mohit Joshi believes that Star has taken the right step by going youth with shows like Airlines and now Everest. For Joshi everyone wants to cater to the youth today and traditional housewives’ viewership is not going to be something on which it can sustain for coming years.

“With the new age viewers being the way they are, I think it is very important to engage with them in multiple test parts and that is what Star is doing through the show. Audiences today are looking for content, doesn’t matter if Star is delivering it or MTV.  With mobile phones in their hands, it only takes a minute for them to switch between devices. So if you give them promising content to watch, you are the king.”

Agreeing with Joshi, Maxus managing partner north and east region Navin Khemka believes that right from the production quality to the look and the feel, the show seems extremely well done. He further goes on to say that as more and more such programmes launch, the ratings increase, acceptability increases and the channels will be left with no choice but to increase the production quality level and engagement level with the viewers.

Penned for about 110 episodes, almost 90 per cent of the shoot was canned before the telecast of the show in locations like Mount Everest, Jodhpur, NIM and Mumbai. It has also used a lot of heavy technical equipments like GoPro cameras, 4K technology and a lot more.

Joshi feels the concept is enterprising and coming from the AG portfolio with big names, it will be able to garner decent amount of visibility. However, he further reasons that overall the viewership has gone for a toss. “The overall fragmentation has led to a lot of drop as far as viewership is concerned which is why all the shows are not performing at the level they used to perform a couple of years ago,” he says.

He cites an example of SMJ and says that nowadays numbers are not important, but content and the traction from social media buzz plays a major role. “Like for SMJ, more than the numbers it was social media buzz that showed that the program was a hit.” Joshi feels the way SMJ is activating all the social media platforms on television, the channel has done for Everest as well. At present, on Facebook, SMJ has six million likes and Everest has more than 2,000 likes.

Khemka states that Star has always been a leader in terms of content they provide to the viewers. He presents the example of shows which airs on sister English GEC Star World such as Homeland which is at par with any Hollywood movie. “A similar transition will happen in India. And as more and more channels started investing in content which is of the standard of Everest and as viewers gradually start accepting it, channels will have no option but to change their programming content,” he narrates.

The series is presented by Fair and Lovely and co-powered by Godrej Ezee while Vinod Cookware has signed up as an associate sponsor. Joshi is confident that the channel should be able to get good mileage from the advertisers’ side too.

Talking about the ad-rate per 10-second slot, Madhok earlier revealed that the cost of the show is significantly more expensive than anything else on the channel. “As sponsors have demonstrated, this is top quality television produced by an iconic filmmaker so people are happy to be associated and pay the premium required,” he said.


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