Shailesh Kapoor: Elections, Cricket& More: The Year of Male Viewership?

14 Mar,2014

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

A little television trend has been developing over the last two years, of which (I suspect) the current TV ratings system has no solid evidence. It is about the increasing power male viewers are wielding while controlling the remote.

 

Multiple factors have contributed to this slow but definitive shift over time. The socio-economic aspect is perhaps the most intriguing, but also the most arguable. As gender inequality becomes less stark in urban India, because of higher literacy rates in the new generation of women and growth in the still-miniscule population of working women, female viewers are beginning to access more avenues of engagement and entertainment. As their dependence on television, currently too high to be termed healthy, reduces, so will their desire to control the remote at all times.

 

It must be mentioned that there is currently no quantification available for the trend above, and hence, the speed of this change is difficult to ascertain. But signs of change are evident, especially in post 9pm consumption behaviour. That the daily serials (barring a couple) have not managed to reinvent at the desired pace has contributed significantly to bringing in this change as well.

 

2014-15 may just end up being a year where we will see acceleration on this aspect like never before. The T20 World Cup starts this weekend. An IPL is round the corner. There is a busy cricket season round the year, ending with the Cricket World Cup in Feb-March 2015, which India will play to defend.

 

But the big event of this year comes in the form of the General Elections. Chaos and theatrics are par for the course in what are set to the messiest elections ever in India. News channels have been capitalizing the goings-on well. And we know it’s only the start. If we have a hung verdict, the drama may last well into June, even July.

 

Cricket and elections, coming together, are going to create unprecedented disruption in viewership patterns. Over three months, this can impact habits enough to create an impact over a long run. New daily soaps of the staple variety have anyway been opening low and struggling to find loyal audiences. The GECs will find it progressively difficult to change that this year. I suspect they are left with little choice but to innovate, on stories as well as story-telling.

 

Is a gender-balanced viewership a good thing? Definitely. Gender equality is good in everything. Period. And television viewership should be no exception. We are still a few years away from this “equality” in India, but this year can be the watershed in many ways.

 

So, all you men, hold on to your remotes this season and be a part of the change!

 

TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor

 

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