India's General Entertainment Channel's story moving on from soaps and dramas
The Q's Simran Hoon writes how there's a change in consumption patterns and viewers’ appetite
How the content consumption patterns are changing in the media landscape
media

India's General Entertainment Channel's story moving on from soaps and dramas

How the content consumption patterns are changing in the media landscape
  • Viewers connect with characters who are becoming increasingly stronger than them following a story.
  • Today, there is more affinity towards characters and how they evolve and grow and be a part of a story that viewers follow instead.
  • Simran Hoon, CEO, The Q writes how the content consumption patterns are changing in the media landscape and why consumers are demanding better stories.
For 210mn TV viewing households in India, television continues to be a medium of entertainment and also a source of credible news and information. Historically, Hindi GECs have built themselves on content that circles around family drama, mythology, the supernatural, crime fiction and reality entertainment. A strong robust content supply chain ensured that viewers consumed what was on offer. However, with a wide range of content becoming increasingly available on demand at a competitive price, viewers becoming more aware, and the impact of COVID-19, viewers now hold the power to command and demand for content as per their wants and preferences. Viewers globally are thirsting for content that is inclusive, unique, fresh in format, relevant and relatable. They want to consume content that is a reflection of the outside world; a reflection of their lives. And while there will always be an audience for family dramas and soaps that run on TV for decades, there already is a visible shift in consumption and viewership patterns wherein viewers are looking for more from Hindi GECs.

Following are a few trends that showcase change in consumption patterns and viewers’ appetite to experiment and taste new formats and mediums:
Characters over stories
Viewers connect with characters who are becoming increasingly stronger than them following a story. Today, there is more affinity towards characters and how they evolve and grow and be a part of a story that viewers follow instead. Viewers have learned to root for a particular character as opposed to how they would want to see a story unfold. For instance, chronicles of historic figures win over viewers' interest because of the character and how they evolved. It is a journey of a character that a viewer now follows and sometimes even lives. So characters have become dinner table conversations over the story.

Short format content
The pandemic changed consumption patterns and altered preferences. Short form content, the likes of sketch comedies, et al are formats that one, including marketers and broadcasters’ would perceive to be digital friendly only. However, short format shows curated from the digital ecosystem with digital talent have been fast selling even on TV. Short episodic shows have great stickiness with viewers given how labile viewer attention span is.

Animation on a Hindi GEC

Globally, animated motion graphics targeting an older set of audience are at peak popularity; but would one dare to even think of how such content would be received on a Hindi GEC if offered to a non-kid audience demographic? Typically, Indian television hasn’t been a witness to animated motion work stories and the lockdown was indeed a great period for this litmus test given that shoots had to be paused. Although generalized as content for kids, shows like Akbar Birbal, Vikram Betal, Panchatantra stories in their animated form received great success indicating that the Indian viewer is more than ready for animated content.

Well-timed content
Relevant well-timed content received its due credit over the last couple of years owing to the pandemic. The demand for spiritual and mytho content spiked during the early phase of the lockdown. Viewers were looking for content that was reassuring in the most uncertain period. This was followed by a surge in consumption of light-hearted and humorous content as it proved to be an escape route for an audience that was stuck indoors. Essentially, there is always a market for well-timed purposeful content irrespective of its genre. For instance, Pani Puri was one of the most searched recipes in India during April 2020 according to Google.

Diversification of content with new formats, unexplored genres, etc. are crucial in ensuring viewer loyalty and love. The success for a Hindi GEC is no longer defined by how long a show airs on television today or who is the face of a show. Viewers have evolved and are upbeat and acceptable of content with fresh faces, stories and story-telling formats. As programming teams are faced with new age challenges, breaking away from stereotypical benchmarks is a need of the hour.