Digital reality shows will compete with TV in future: Payal Bhagat

Greymatter Entertainment has been in the news for all the right reasons lately. The Mumbai-based production house is producing Amazon’s latest reality talent show, The Remix, which has been well received so far. After having travelled to several countries in the previous years such as Vietnam and Canada, the show finds home at home. It even got the acclaim of being Fresh TV's top 25 MIP formats to watch out for.

Greymatter Entertainment was founded by Chandradev Bhagat, Rahul Sarangi and Payal Mathur Bhagat in 2009.

In an interview with, Payal Bhagat said that television viewing in India is still largely driven by appointment viewing and talent shows are mainly to drive up viewership through nonfiction content. The youth is leading the change of consuming TV content via digital platforms.

Greymatter has done a good amount of work in the non-fiction and brand solutions space. It has also worked on shows for niche channels like MTV, Discovery, Ten Sports, VH1 and brands like Pepsi, Vodafone, Reebok, Idea and Ray Ban among others.  

Bhagat shared her insights with us on the company’s progress and the growth of the industry.

Edited excerpts:

How did you begin your journey? What were the challenges faced ?

Prior to this, I had worked for Sony Entertainment TV during its launch phase and Ten Sports, Chandradev had been with IMG /TWI and Ten Sports and Rahul with MTV and Colors.

Having spent over a decade on the broadcaster side of things, we were keen on moving to the other side and actually being hands on involved in producing the kind of content that really excited us. There was no better way to do this than set up our own little production house so that is how Greymatter came about.

The biggest challenge that we faced was getting used to the fact that we were starting from ground zero even after having been in the industry for more than a decade. We had to unlearn a whole lot and start from scratch.

It was like taking baby steps in a whole new world - every step came with its own set of challenges right from the procedural hassles of setting up a new entity to trying to get meetings with decision makers for pitching our concepts to managing cash flows to keep ourselves afloat!

Tell us about your body of work across genres. 

Our journey began with a good amount of work in the non-fiction and brand solutions space. We worked on shows for niche channels like MTV, Discovery, Ten Sports, VH1 and brands like Pepsi, Vodafone, Reebok, Idea, Ray Ban etc.

Apart from this, due to Chandradev's vast experience with live sports production, we started getting live sport production projects and that turned out to be a strong vertical for Greymatter. We have done productions like IPL funfeed, Sri Lanka Premier League, Afghanistan Premier League, Celebrity Cricket League, Pro Wrestling League and Premier Futsal to name a few.

While we kept working on non-fiction / docu series like Mid-Wicket Tales with Naseeruddin Shah, Satyamev Jayate - Mumkin Hai and Umeed India with Virender Sehwag, we were looking forward to build our own IP and invested time and effort in building out bibles for some concepts that we felt strongly about. We now have a bank of formats like The Remix and Street Stars which are being distributed around the world.

How do you see reality shows, made especially for digital, shaping up ?

Reality shows made especially for digital is a fairly new phenomenon. While there have been a few in the cooking and travel space, a music reality show has not been attempted purely for digital on a larger than life scale.

The Remix on Amazon is one of the first such shows and in some ways will set the benchmark as well as offer viewers a new experience on the digital platform.

Reality shows lend themselves to conversations as viewers develop strong opinions and attachments with the contestants. On the digital platform, they get a ready medium to start and engage in social conversations instantly and that to me is one of the key aspects that would shape the consumption of reality shows on the digital medium.

Does a show like The Remix directly compete with talent shows on TV ?

The way things stand now, I don’t think shows like The Remix directly compete with talent shows on TV since popular TV talent shows have been around for multiple seasons and have their own loyal audience. 

Television viewing in India is still largely driven by appointment viewing and talent shows on TV garner viewers who come to a particular channel for their weekly dose of non-fiction entertainment.

However, this viewer habit is rapidly evolving. Audiences are beginning to enjoy the benefits of 'content on demand'. More and more people are beginning to consume even television content on the digital platform at their own will and convenience. This is already a common phenomenon with the youth and is fast permeating into other audience segments too. Keeping in mind this trend, I feel in the near future, shows like The Remix will become direct competition to talent shows on TV.

The focus these days is on regional content. Are you planning to come up with any regional content ? 

We have always been excited about regional content and one of GreyMatter’s most interesting projects has been the live coverage of the Celebrity Cricket League which we produced with eight customised regional feeds.

The Remix as a format very easily lends itself to regional adaptations and we are looking forward to explore this exciting possibility.

Is the viewership on TV at the 10.30 pm slot low because of the lack of content ?

There could be a variety of reasons for a dip in viewership for the 10:30 pm slot on TV and lack of good content could be one of them.

A closer study of viewership and programming data or a sharply directed market research would be required to arrive at a conclusive reason for this observation.

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