It’s been more than an eventful year for the television industry in India. Digitization in the four metros is finally a reality (almost), and this sets the ball rolling for the nationwide digitization that we all eagerly anticipate. It was also the year of tussle on the measurement side, with the NDTV lawsuit setting the cat amongst the pigeons. I hope 2013 is remembered as the year of BARC, where we see a new, more robust currency research being set up by our industry bodies.
But besides these two key areas of activity, 2012 was also a year of a lot of action on the content and marketing front. Here is my pick on the top 10 events or trends of the year, which may have a lasting impact on the industry in the times to come.
10. Regionalization of West Bengal: From once being a prime Hindi market, West Bengal (WB) has gradually moved to being a part regional market over the last decade. This year saw even more action on this front, with the launch of Zee Bangla Cinema and Jalsha Movies, making WB a fully regional market in effect. Recent successes in the Bangla film industry seem to have spurred broadcasters. To me, it’s a matter of time before WB, including Kolkata, is dropped from the traditional definition of “HSM”.
9. Mahadev rewrites mytho rules: Almost all the success our television has seen in the mythological space has been ‘calendar art’ in nature. With its more atypical yet extremely entertaining treatment of Mahadev, Life OK ushered in a new trend. The programme managed to build popularity as the year passed, and this, in turn, should encourage other channels to break the stereotypical mytho mould, starting with MaaDurga on Colors. After the failed experiment in Mahabharat on 9X, Mahadev has proven that some of the holy cows of the mytho genre are overrated.
8. The rise of the crime genre: I wrote about this in a TV Trail recent post too. Between Crime Patrol and CID itself, the success story of the crime genre on our television is a worthy one. 2012 saw Arjun, Savdhaan India and Shaitaan, as broadcasters tried to identify different ways of milking a lucrativegenre. Whether this proves damaging for the genre in the long run, only time will tell. For now, crime is cool, but only on TV!
7. Khamoshiyan – The nameless launch: For me, the unique launch of Star Plus’ new show Khamoshiyan was the standout programme marketing story of 2012. Using a news approach where ‘missing ads’ were used to promote the lead character Gauri Bhonsle and her story, Khamoshiyan became the first programme on Indian television to launch without the programme name being revealed! The dare-devilry seemed to pay off, with a 4+ TVR on the launch day. But even if it didn’t, I’d have said: Full marks for trying.
6. The Dirty Picture – One night stand:A much promoted television premiere of a much hyped Bollywood hit was stalled, just the night before its scheduled telecast on April 22. Despite 59 cuts and a U/A certificate, I&B ministry directed Sony to drop the afternoon and primetime airings. This created a sense of outrage in the film industry, especially given the ambiguous and ad hoc nature of the directive.
5. Bollywoodization of television: It’s not a new trend, but this year, Bollywood integrated with television like never before. Last year, Vidya Balan had made an appearance in Bade Achhe Lagte Hain to promote The Dirty Picture. This year, Salman Khan featured in Diya Aur Baati Hum to promote Dabangg 2. Aamir Khan shot for a two-part special for CID. In Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Anushka Sharma played a character working for Discovery Channel. Stars were also seen promoting their films on primetime news, not just on GECs.
4. Kids – Entering the mainstream: The much undervalued kids genre had a good year. Sonic had launched in end 2011, and this year saw Nick Junior and Discovery Kids adding to the genre. Indian animation made its presence felt even further, as Nick launched a series based on comic characters Motu Patlu in October. SAB TV also experimented with kids-inclusive programming in Baal Veer and Jeanie Aur Juju, and if early trends are an indication, the experiments have worked well. And of course, the biggest reality show success story of the year was driven by kids – DID Li’l Masters.
3. Education – Theme of the year: Over the last five years, there has been much talk of serials which highlight “social issues”. An issue that has emerged a clear frontrunner in this context is “education”, especially women’s education. The top-rated programme of the year, Diya Aur Baati Hum, brought the education theme alive. But there were other stories too, such as Afsar Bitiya and even the education track that started last year in Saath Nibhana Saathiya. Unlike other social issues that may gather only fleeting interest, the education theme is here to stay.
2. The news revolution: Our much maligned news channels continued to play an instrumental role in bringing about social change. The recent public outcry against sexual assault on women is a prime example of the role news channels played in creating a movement. The eagle eye of news cameras continued to stare those in power, more than ever before. But for the news revolution, our democratic credentials would have come under the scanner sooner or later.
1. Satyamev Jayate: There couldn’t be a more deserving candidate for the top spot. Aamir Khan showed that there is room for television that goes beyond the hullabaloo of ‘mass entertainment’ programming. Barring the odd jugmental episode (especially the one on organic farming v/s pesticides), Satyamev Jayate brought some rare qualities to our television – compassion, grace and impact. And no ratings can capture this side of the television story of 2012.