Shailesh Kapoor: Women’s Day? TV Needs A Men’s Day!

08 Mar,2013

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

The celebration and hype around Women’s Day amuses me. I can understand the day being used as an excuse for the government to announce schemes and policies with the objective of promoting gender equality in the country in its truest form. But besides that, the concept reeks of hypocrisy and commercialization, given that it promotes gender inequality through its mere existence, by recognizing women “differently”. Talk about ironies!

 

For the television industry, Women’s Day should be even less relevant. After all, the woman is the boss of the television remote. Women control what gets watched on TV on weekdays across a majority of households in the country. The female dominance of the remote is a staggering 78% between 7-10pm. It changes only marginally after 10pm, but is still a lopsided 68%.

 

This data, collected in a pan-India study last year by Ormax Media, is a telling evidence of marginalization of men in the television business in India. Even more interesting is the SEC skew. In lower SECs (CDE), the gender balance is still better, with the 78% and 68% dropping to 68% and 55% respectively. But the upper and middle class audiences (SEC AB) show an even stronger female dominance of the remote (81% and 72%).

 

There is only one day in the week that’s not a Women’s Day on television – Sunday. Studying the concept of “Sunday” from a women’s perspective can be revelatory. A day we see as relaxing and fun is often her nightmare. This is the day when the husband and kids are home all day, and the woman (read housewife) has her toughest day at office, multi-tasking her way through a ceaseless volley of demands being thrown at her. At times, I wonder if keeping the housewife occupied with Sunday chores is just a conspiracy hatched by the male members of the family to get control over the remote!

 

In a consumer interaction a few years back, one such woman candidly expressed her disenchantment with Sunday: “Baaki sab ka Sunday hota hai, aur hamari hoti hai waat.” But back to Monday, and it’s another story altogether.

 

The gender inequality in television evidently has the man as its victim. What we really need is a Men’s Day. A day when a man can watch cricket in primetime without being bugged to change the channel. A day when a man can assert that primetime news debates are the most engaging form of television known to us. A day when a man can watch a South-Indian dubbed film start-to-finish, even as the wife wonders: “Yeh kaale-kaale hero waali picture kyon dekhte rehte ho?”

 

But on a more serious note, we will be better off with a more balanced gender profile of the remote ownership. One argument says that if you make only women-centric content, you will get women as the primary audiences. However, this is not entirely true, because there have been many experiments to offer male-centric content in the past, and most of them have not enjoyed the success that women-oriented soaps do.

 

But I believe that these male-centric programmes were only paying lip service to the cause. While they targeted the men, they didn’t do enough to strike a deep chord within their target audience, like the top serials do with women. If there’s a research paper waiting to be written in the Indian television industry, it is the one called “What Men Want”.

 

Happy Women’s Day!

 

Shailesh Kapoor is founder and CEO of media & entertainment research and consulting firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor

 

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One response to “Shailesh Kapoor: Women’s Day? TV Needs A Men’s Day!”

  1. V Sekhar says:

    Kudos! And thanks for exposing the (home) realities about the housewife and her dominance over TV viewing. I guess we should have a 5-day work week so that women get Saturdays too to run errands and household chores rather than just a Sunday to do that.

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