Thrillers on mass television: Does the genre deliver?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 06, 2004
Though present in the Top 100 list of shows, thrillers don't seem to be working their magic as channel executives would expect them to do

As a genre, thrillers have always had this edge-of-the-seat quality in them. Be it a horror show or a detective serial, a murder mystery or supernatural thriller, the big draw of this genre has been its ability to set the viewer's heart beating or pulse racing. However, if many of us would like to believe that edge-of-the-seat entertainment is what gets the viewers going, may be, it's time to sit back and think again. For one, a look at the Top 100 list of C&S shows suggests that viewers would rather go with the ebb and flow of a family drama than endure a spine-chilling thriller. In the week of January 18-24, 2004, for instance, thriller shows Ssshhhh… Koi Hai…Trikaal, Krishna Arjun and Vikraal Aur Gabraal on STAR Plus notched up scores of 5.2, 4.6 and 3.1 (respectively), while Sony's CID attracted a TVR of 3.2 in the base population of C&S 4-plus throughout India.

A week earlier, that is, January 11-17, 2004, the list of thriller shows in the Top 100 was no different. The staple of Ssshhhh… Koi Hai…Trikaal, Krishna Arjun, Vikraal Aur Gabraal and CID attracted figures of 4.2, 3.8, 2.7 and 2.7 respectively. Back into 2003, and the scenario was more or less the same. In TAM's week 50 in 2003, that is, December 7-13, 2003, Ssshhhh… Koi Hai…Trikaal, Krishna Arjun, Vikraal Aur Gabraal and weekend thriller Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat (on Sony) attracted figures of 4.8, 4.2, 2.8 and 2.3 respectively.

Though present in the Top 100 list of programmes, thrillers are not exactly TVR stealers, as one would anticipate. Atul Phadnis, director, S group, TAM Media Research, attributes this phenomenon to a niche segment of people watching shows in the thriller genre. "You have younger audiences tuning in to thriller shows," he says. "They could be male or female, but essentially, they are young," he adds.

And considering that prime-time television is driven by women, 25 years and above, tuning in to a family drama would be the norm rather than the exception. "Housewives would gladly sit down and watch a family drama as opposed to a thriller show," says Phadnis. As Kunal Jamuar, business director, Insight (media arm of Lintas), states, "Men hardly get an opportunity to sample shows during prime time because the remote is in the hands of the woman and average homes are single TV households," he points out.

Despite the drawback, thriller shows are successful programming formats, as indicated by a TAM Media analysis conducted a few months ago. For 4 per cent of the telecast time devoted to thrillers as a whole on the Top 6 mainline channels comprising DD1, DD2, STAR, ZEE, Sony and SUN in July 2003, the consequent share of viewership was 7 per cent. "This proves that the genre is efficient," says Phadnis. In the year 2000, the share of telecast was 2 per cent yielding a viewership of 3 per cent, implying, that as programming time for the genre increases, viewership is likely to grow, says Phadnis.

Family dramas, predictably, have a 28 per cent share of telecast time yielding a 44 per cent share of viewership in 2003, while in 2000, a 23 per cent share of telecast yielded a 25 per cent of share of viewership. "Serials and family dramas are the mainstay for mass channels, but within the small time frame that thrillers are telecast, they are delivering significantly higher audiences," adds Phadnis. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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