The last decade has been witness to hordes of international format shows being imported to India to satiate the viewers' desire for fresh and innovative content. Among those which were aired, only a few were able to hit the jackpot, while most others had to settle for lukewarm responses.
A few shows, such as Kaun Banega Crorepati, Khatron Ke Khiladi and 10 Ka Dum, have managed to rake in viewership at par with their international counterparts, namely Who Wants Be A Millionaire, Fear Factor and Power of 10 respectively. For instance, 10 Ka Dum, got an average rating of 3.1, according to aMap, while Power of 10 rated 3.3 in the US, as per Eurodata.
Meanwhile, shows such as Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hai, Sach Ka Saamna and Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao could not match up to their international originals Dancing With The Stars, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, The Moment Of Truth and I'm a Celebrity -Take Me Out Of Here, in that order.
The telecast of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader garnered a TVR of 9.3 in the US, while the Indian adaptation on STAR Plus managed to fetch a TVR of 4. Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao on Sony got a rating of merely 1.6, whereas the UK version on ITV fetched a high TVR of 11.8, as per Eurodata.
Production house Endemol tracks markets such as Argentina, Spain and Indonesia to gauge audience trends and positioning of shows in those markets as their audience profiles are similar to India's. But largely, Deepak Dhar, managing director, Endemol India says that most formats come with a pedigree. "A lot of our decisions are based on instinct," he says, adding that there is no specific yardstick to pick the right format.
For the second season on Colors, Endemol changed the name to Khatron Ke Khiladi and in order to connect with the core GEC (general entertainment channel) audience - women - roped in thirteen known women contestants and the format was restructured to feature the same participants throughout the season. "It's imperative to adapt the format and not just replicate it," Dhar states.
The Indian adaptation of Moment of Truth, called Sach Ka Saamna, met with a lukewarm response, although it was being hailed as a big milestone in reality entertainment. A lot of buzz was generated due to the nature of the show but it also caught the I&B Ministry's ire. "The show had a good connect with viewers but issues such as shift in time slot led to fall in TVRs," says Keertan Adyanthaya, general manager and executive vice-president, STAR World and STAR Movies.
To this, Natrajan says, "Tweaking the content to suit Indian sensitivity and to ensure that the policy makers and public interest groups are kept in mind when the content is bought is important." Clearly, customisation keeps controversies at bay. She cites the example of McDonalds, which has a completely different set of menu for Indian audiences.
Media planners bet their monies on shows on the basis of the strength of the platform on which it will be aired, their track record of delivering successfully on format shows, the marketing plan and the network strength, and the added elements (celebrities, changes) that make it interesting and potentially viable.
There is an interesting trend emerging, too. According to statistics from Lintas, four out of the Top 10 reality shows in 2009 were new formats. Among them, a majority (seven out of 10) were home grown, such as Rakhi Ka Swayamwar, Aap Ki Kachehri and Dance India Dance, indicating that home grown formats are getting increasingly popular among viewers.