Now Pakistanis too would turn Bigg Boss voyeurs

14 May,2015

By Nandini Raghavendra

 

Pakistani television networks are the biggest buyers of Indian content, spending close to Rs 35-40 crore and contributing around a fourth of the total Rs 170-180 crore syndication revenue. Reality shows such as Bigg Boss and soaps like Jodha Akbar or Saath Nibhaana Sathiyaare popular across the border.

 

“The thumb rule is- almost everything that works in India, works in Pakistan,” said Jerjees Seja, CEO, ARY Digital Network, which has been around for 15 years and is the leading channel in that country for the last five years. Seja spends anything from $25,000 to $2 million buying Indian content. The spike comes when he adds big award shows to his shopping bag. While reality shows are aired on the main ARY Digital channel, the rest of the Indian content is aired on the fledgling Zindagi, launched a year back.

 

Asif Raza Mir, chief operating officer at Geo TV, said almost all Indian content is aired on the group’s general entertainment channel (GEC) Geo Kahani, with the main Geo Entertainment channel airing mostly Pakistani content.

 

“Indian content forms 15-20% of Geo Kahani, while the rest is either local or from Turkey and Egypt. We are also exploring Japanese and Korean content lately,” Mir said. Since Indian soaps are mostly about the saasbahutheme they offer less variety.

 

Pakistani content is more realistic, while Indian serials are less so, though well mounted, he said. This is also because Indian producers use studios while their Pakistani counterparts use locations. “Our content is more issue-based rather than politics in the family, so we pick up subjects like CID, Bhoot Aaya, though there are some love stories that stand out as well,” said Mir who, like Seja, sources content from all the four leading Indian GECs- Zee, Colors, Sony and Star Plus. He spends close to $2.5 million on his purchases.

 

The advantage of Indian content is that it does not need to be translated, dubbed or subtitled and can be telecast almost simultaneously. There are exceptions like Bigg Boss, which is shown after a week because of logistical issues. Pakistani networks are hobbled by a cap on foreign content. Around three years ago, when Urdu 1 launched and was issued a licence that allowed more than 70% foreign content, it changed the game, according to Pakistan television veterans.

 

The only factor they watch out for while picking Indian content is anything that might national and religious sentiment, Seja said. This is the reason he didn’t buy Code Red from Colors, he said. For Indian broadcasters, the syndication pie has been growing.

 

From Rs 60-70 crore three years ago, the market is now Rs 170-180 crore and could be worth Rs 500 crore soon. “Pakistani channels already license Rs 30 crore plus of Indian content every year from India,” said Gaurav Gandhi, COO of IndiaCast, a content asset monetisation entity.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2015, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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