From singing to dancing to adventure to game shows, it is raining Reality shows in South India. The Channels have made announcements and are all set to launch Reality shows of different genres. When few of the shows follow the general and repetitive format, few sets of shows are the regional adaptation of international shows. The international cookery shows Masterchef is getting Tamil and Telugu adaptations. The Tamil show, hosted by actor Vijay Sethupathy will be premiered on 7 August 2021 on Sun TV. Zee Tamil is set to unveil one of the world’s most successful reality shows – Survivor. Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? will speak Malayalam with ‘Anchinodu Inchodinchu’ to be premiered on Surya TV. The other channels like Flowers, Star Vijay, Star Maa, Mazhavil Manorama are also telecasting singing and dancing reality shows.
In short, TV channels are buzzing with new Reality shows. Does this denote a boom in the TV industry after a sluggish year because of the pandemic and lockdown and a sign of positivity in consumer behaviour?
“The launch of a new set of reality TV shows seems to be addressing the effects of long drawn pandemic lockdowns,” observes Pavan Padaki, Author Brand Vinci and Branding Coach.
“The last one and a half years have been tough across mediums, and TV has also had its share of downtime. No original content was shot with no shoots happening, but TV was very quick to bounce back. We saw, especially after the second wave, TV bounced back very quickly. As a category, we saw original content production happening across. So yes, we do see a buoyancy coming back and advertiser interest on such properties also increasing,” says Siju Prabhakaran, Executive Vice President & Cluster Head – South Business, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited.
“A property like Survivor will give the advertiser incremental reach that they are looking for. Additionally, this is not a one-day property but will go on to build their brands over some time. These are the things we look at in general, as for a long period, channels did not have anything substantial, so there will also be some catch-up of what had to be done, which is getting accumulated now. Apart from that, we also know that there are many young and male TG, who expect more from TV, and these kinds of properties also provide a great platform to reach out to the new audience,” Siju added.
“The consumer buying propensity is still chequered, and the new reality shows will be hoping to attract viewers on tried and tested formats. With news fatigue setting in, entertainment has a chance of pulling in viewers and reversing the slowing trend,” opines brand expert & CEO of TRA, N Chandramouli.
According to Rajeev Balakrishnan, CEO, Image Advantage Consultants, More than a boom, the launch of new reality shows are survival tactics, especially at a time when Content is emerging as the King.
“With the boom in OTT platforms, it has become imperative for TV channels to reinvent themselves and develop programs that will keep the viewers interested with the content they present,” he added.
Ananth Narayan, Partner- The Exchange at Mindshare, is of a similar opinion.
“In my knowledge, it’s not a boom. Actually, Channels are facing a shortage of Content. Most are fictions that are changing, and in the near future, the importance of fiction will come down. Pandemic has forced channels to think about investing money in reality shows which in turn is not gaining any profit for them,” says Ananth.
If you go back to the history of Reality shows in India, a long time before Reality shows weren’t synonymous with TRP ratings, Reality shows have always been a platform for budding talents. The singing reality shows like Antakshari, Meri Awaz Suno, dance shows like Boogie Woogie have contributed talents to the mainstream entertainment industry. Most of the huge hit shows were merely adaptations of international reality shows. Are the Dancing and Singing reality formats attaining fatigue?
Yes, says Chandramouli.” Overabundance of anything will get fatigued. There are over 30 dance shows alone, and many formats are very similar, fatiguing the audience,” he said.
Ananth also believes so, “I guess every reality show has a life span and singing and dancing reality shows have reached that stage as well. It may continue, but it will need to start reinventing the format!” he said.
According to Pavan, the high boredom factor has created a need for more variety of escape –entertainers for consumers to indulge and engage in to overcome the current mental fatigue. Most are in a constant state of craving for more exotic and intriguing Content, beyond singing and dancing reality formats that would keep their dopamine buzzing.
Rajeev also believes that the Singing and dance reality shows are no longer helping them gain more GRP’s and the contents are repetitive.
“Reality TV shows, unlike news and knowledge programs, address any emotional and latent need to become successful, popular, and be applauded overnight. The viewers’ way of self-reflection meets this need during the consumption of reality shows. The reality is that there will always be a need for more intriguing and indulging reality shows,” added Pavan.
Zee Tamil, with its new Reality Show- Survivor, is hoping to bring in new excitement and buzz for the channel in terms of bringing in a lot of new audiences onto the platform.
“When it comes to nonfiction shows for a general entertainment channel, we bring new audiences to the platform. And what is a better way than bringing an international format show like Survivor, which has worked so well in various countries, it has been a jam-packed format show, and that is one of the primary reasons for us to bring this show. We know that many channels have not scheduled not nonfiction shows over the weekends, and weekends are when you have high viewership days. We want to ensure that we have that sort of high viewership on the weekends as well – that is another reason for bringing a show like a Survivor to the Tamil market”, says Siju.
“In the Tamil market, we have seen many nonfiction shows launched over the years, and I’m sure Survivor will add to that. In terms of revenue, it is a high-budget show, and therefore, there would be many aspects for the sponsors to consider in terms of sponsorship mileage, mainly how they can integrate their brands. We are already in talks with many brands for sponsorships, and I am sure this will be an excellent property for all our advertisers,” added Siju.
Is it time for the South audience to sample new reality formats?
“Variety is the spice of entertainment and channels need to experiment with new formats to build audience bases. However, the current period has given a low-risk appetite to channels, and they are forced to try tested formats,” says Chandramouli.
According to Rajeev, Not just south but all of India needs to develop interesting formats for the reality shows. Content needs to be packaged and presented in a manner that will engage with the audience.
Ananth says that the channels should try to do some audience research and requirements and plan for fresh formats accordingly.