100 Episodes Young!

28 Aug,2014



Happy 100!

So why did Show X do well on Television Channel A and Show Y flop on Channel B despite a huge marketing blitz?  As mediawatchers, we have always asked this question and often relied on our own personal views or that of people around us.

However, there had got to be a scientific way of figuring why certain television works, and why some doesn’t. We needed to pick the trends and dig for the insights.

A few months after we launched MxMIndia, we felt we weren’t servicing the needs of our readers well enough if we didn’t provide these insights. It wasn’t enough to carry plugs of what the channels want to say. It wasn’t enough to interview business/programming heads/CxOs and ask the predictable questions.  Or quiz a cross-section of media planners and marketers on what show worked

We didn’t have to look around too much to know how we could bridge this gap. The answer was to get Shailesh Kapoor, Founder and CEO, Ormax Media to write for us. We had read his tweets and some very interesting posts on his blog.

It took me longer to meet him than to convince him to write. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Shailesh Kapoor’s weekly column hits a century of appearances. Yes, what you see here is the 100th edition of TV Trail and at MxMIndia we are proud to publish his column and have him associated with us.

We are also delighted that all our readers have embraced his column right from Week #1 and the views he has expressed.

For those of you have come in late, do dig into our archives. TV Trail by Shailesh Kapoor is Essential Reading for ALL stakeholders in the business and craft of the Indian media.

Congratulations, Shailesh!

– Pradyuman Maheshwari
Editor-in-Chief, MxMIndia



By Shailesh Kapoor


TV Trail completes 100 episodes today! A century is always special, be it on the cricket field or here on the Internet. It’s easy to indulge myself in this hundredth edition of this weekly column and write about the experience of writing it. But that would be ironic, given that I have spent at least ten of these 100 columns criticizing some of the common indulgences in our TV industry.


Instead then, here’s my pick of the seven pieces I enjoyed writing the most, in chronological order, with excerpts from each in italics. Click if you want to read any of them in full. To use TV language, I’m hoping this piece can convert some of the irregular readers into regulars. And for those who have been regulars already, thank you for reading.


Films Stars on TV – Free For All (August 2012)

Channels allowing filmmakers free access to their medium has always baffled me. Two years hence, not much has changed!


Why should a producer, who pays upto Rs 3 million for a print ad, not pay a rupee for getting a wider, more contextual (audio-video and entertainment) medium to meet the same objectives better? Because TV has never asked for it! Because the pecking order is twisted enough for old-school film producers and stars to still believe that they, and not the channel, are the ones extending a favor by making an “appearance”.


Trite Tributes To Film Legends (November 2012)

How news channels cover the passing away of cinema legends embarrasses me. 2011-12 was a period when we lost a few stalwarts. This piece was written a few days after Yash Chopra passed away.


The ‘programme’ names often border on being ludicrous. A channel covered Rajesh Khanna’s death live, under a program called ‘Oopar Aaka, Neeche Kaka’. Looking for alliterations and puns in tragedy is not exactly the most sensitive thing to do, but if you choose to do it, choose words that at least make some sense. The commentary is frantic, almost as if it’s a race against time. After-death is anything but that, both literally and metaphorically.


It’s All About Hindi Vindi (December 2012)

Why Hindi channels use English in their on-air and off-air communication that even Newton would have struggled to answer. Things have got a wee bit better since 2012. But only a wee bit.


This obsession with English extends to channel packaging and taglines. There are two strong stereotypes at play here. One says: In the metros, English is now widely used, and hence, can be the main language of communication. This is classic mother-in-law research (or my-friends-circle research) at play. In cities where slow-paced songs are called ‘silent songs’ and horror movies are routinely referred to as ‘horrible movies’ (by the youth, no less), using English for brand communication of a Hindi channel is pure futility on display.


Why Imam Siddiqui had to ‘lose’ Bigg Boss 6 (January 2013)

I rarely write about specific programs, but Bigg Boss has been the subject of about four pieces. I enjoyed exploring India’s moral compass in this piece.


Over years, the ambitious Air Hostess (Kitu Gidwani) and the beer-guzzling Tara were replaced by Tulsi, Akshara and Priya. These are strong characters in their own right, but outright positive ones, with no shades of grey at all. During this period, the villains became even more menacing and unidimensional, scheming and plotting all the time. Television, over the last 15 years, has separated the black from the white, the way our cinema did in the 70s and the 80s. This slotting today cuts across all television. Imam Siddiqui is “good to watch”, but that doesn’t make him the positive-type good. He was clearly the villain of Bigg Boss. A villain, who may display his soft side once in a while, but remained a villain nevertheless. Imam Siddiqui was “bad”. Probably 200% bad.


Five Tips For Young TV Executives (May 2013)

Easily the piece closest to my heart. There’s nothing more satisfying than nurturing talent, and how little nurture is happening in our TV industry always pains me.


Be Curious: There is a world at work, beyond your assigned work, i.e., the show or the client or the campaign you are working on. Seek learning from that world. Talk to people in other departments, ask them questions, find your “intrigues” and then find answers to them. Learning never stops, but there is no real, sustained learning unless the mind is curious. And curiosity can be a deceptively under-rated concept. Make it your big idea.


Are We A Noise-Loving TV Nation? (November 2013)

I have written a few pieces around Arnab Goswami, but this one used him, Gauhar Khan (Bigg Boss) and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah as examples to make a larger point about the desirability of ‘noise’ on Indian television.


You would normally not associate positive emotions with the word ‘noise’. It’s generally assumed and accepted that noise is bad. In context of television too, the media has propagated this notion for a while now. But there is very little real evidence to accept this belief. In fact, there is telling evidence to the contrary.


Reality Shows: Trendy No More? (May 2014)

The decline of reality television (barring Bigg Boss) in the last two years has not been understood well or discussed enough. This was one of the two pieces I’ve written on this subject.


Today, the reality shows genre is facing imminent decline. The audiences who grew up watching these formats would have recently got married or are likely to get married soon. The impact of marriage on TV content preferences can never be overstated. And no young generation likes to inherit what the “oldies” liked. They want to create their own trends, their own hits.


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