Many Hindi GECs are experimenting with new seasons of successful reality shows. Some of the shows are brought back with tweaked formats, while others retain their old charm. afaqs! explores the logic.
Zee TV has announced the launch of Shabaash India in the next couple of months, after its first season was pulled off air in 2008. Also, Big Magic, RBNL's Hindi GEC (general entertainment channel), is bringing back the Aman Verma-hosted, Khull Ja Sim Sim, after a break of seven years.
Evidently, GECs often opt for re-launches of older shows rather than introduce a new concept altogether.
Why do the channels feel the need to bring back an older property, whether its own or not, after a long break? What is the insight behind such a move?
Rajiv Singh, national sales head, Amagi Media, notes that bringing the older content back is comparatively easier. He says, "There is always a risk while a new content is made - their successes are unreliable."
Another media expert, who doesn't wish to be named, says, "These days, most of the shows are franchised. It is always easier to buy the content than commission one. Plus, the broadcaster is sure that the viewers have a decent idea of the concept and they would want to taste it, at least once."
Hema Malik, vice-president, Lodestar UM, says, "I feel it's more of learning from Bollywood. The older concepts work better as the viewers are already connected to it. Also, the challenge faced by the broadcaster is to find out a way to tweak the format in a manner that works for today, while retaining the basic concept."
She adds that this move saves a lot of cost of the broadcasters, including licensing and acquisition costs. The only major task left is to add freshness to the concept.
To look at it from a broadcaster's point of view, on condition of anonymity, a channel's content head says, "The reality show has the potential to build the audiences for itself and for the properties around it. When any channel discontinues a reality show and doesn't look forward to launching it again in the near future, it is mostly because it loses confidence in the plot. It takes time out to prepare it in a better way and if this gap increases, it becomes too late for the launch, or the consecutive season. This preparation time cannot be beyond 18 months, though."
He believes that a re-launched reality show can always garner better ratings and unique viewership. He also states that TV moves very fast and media has become very dynamic. Even viewers don't register anything more than a thin memory of the concept of the show. It's not very tough to tap them at that point.
It is learnt that Zee decided to stop the telecast of Shabaash India because of too much chaos in the same type of format.
Another question that arises is whether the comebacks should be induced with novelty or do the original versions fare better?
While Movers and Shakers was launched with the same originality on SAB TV, it must be noted that the show was shifted out of prime time since it couldn't engage the audience as well as FIR (which was replaced by M&S on the prime time slot).
Old wine in new bottle
What kind of preparation is required to make the content suitable for the contemporary audience?
Some media experts believe that a considerable level of promotions is a must for a re-launch.
A media expert points out that a reality show must take care of not hurting the social nerves of the viewers in an attempt to make it relevant to the changing audiences. Also, nowadays, the newer content shouldn't cross the boundaries of a general entertainment channel. One of the most important parts of planning a comeback of the show is the re-positioning.
Malik of Lodestar also agrees that each show has a baggage attached to it and it is very important to establish the relaunch with a neutral or positive image. She adds that both positive and negative imagery can be problematic, as the positive image may increase the level of expectations. In any case, the newly tweaked content must pass the contemporary viewers' test, which becomes all the more difficult since the exposure is increased and viewers are now aware of western content.
Singh of Amagi believes that the there was a time when viewers didn't accept satire beyond a level. However, now the audiences are more open to comments on celebrities and political satire. "The mindsets of the audiences have matured since the time when these shows were pulled off. It is important to establish the relevance of the content for the new generation viewers. There's no doubt that the older content connects easily with the audiences. Compare the two versions of Don; they have surely converted Bombay to Bangkok, so as to suit the audience," he adds.
From the marketer's point of view, Alok Rakshit, head, regional and entertainment business, Aidem Ventures, says, "Viewership-wise, whether the show will work or not clearly depends on the other top properties on the channel. For a regional channel, the competition plays a very major role in deciding the advertisers' responses, while for a national channel, it majorly depends on the relevance of the concept for today's viewers."
He adds that for brands, the decision to come on board depends completely on the RoI (return on investments). "As a whole, it is a challenge for any broadcaster to re-sell the show to the companies, while there is some baggage of the previous seasons," he says.