The Anchor: Ritu Kapur on 5 ways factual entertainment channels can score over GECs

13 Jul,2012

By Ritu Kapur


In a cluttered TV environment with increasing content sameness and fatigue, factual entertainment channels are a refreshing “window to the world”, with unpredictable, spectacular, high end productions.  But with the number of infotainment channels on the rise, it’s important, we feel, to re-look at factual entertainment as an alternative experience to general entertainment.


Production Style

Factual channels need to change the production style to make the content more entertaining, interactive and accessible. History TV 18 has broken the documentary “all-knowing voice of God” format with shows like Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers and a competition show like Top Shot. Where the content is not shying away from information, but presenting it in viewer friendly, character-driven reality format.



Television across the world is driven by iconic characters. For the longest time animals took centre-stage. There is already a move towards characters becoming the defining face of channels like Bear Grylls on Discovery. But it’s important for these characters to evolve further and break away from repetitive formats.


Unlike other channels, factual channels need to create identifiable characters out of everyday people, doing extraordinary things.  And it’s not enough to just build these characters but to use them creatively to convey information to the viewers.



Why should drama only be the forte of a GEC? Factual entertainment channels should take the lead in creating high quality drama that is not there just for drama sake but to bring alive themes from history, science and survival. History TV18 is taking its first step towards that with an Emmy award winning drama series called The Kennedys. The series is very well-researched, hasHollywoodgreats like Katie Holmes and is a big budget production.


A 360 degree view of India

High end productions onIndiahave always had the western perspective. It’s important now for Indian channels to assert and present the realIndia, breaking all clichés. These should be done with global syndication in mind so that this perspective is accessible internationally.


Making International Content Accessible

Dubbing in regional languages has been the primary means of reaching out to larger viewership inIndia. It’s important now to review the kind of experience this dubbing provides for its viewers. Languaging that creates a context for the aspirational regional Indian viewer is important. It is also important to go beyond dubbing to also use short formats, promo styling and other creative TV devices to make international content relevant and “belong” to the Indian viewer.


Ritu Kapur is the Programming head at A+E Network, TV18


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