From addressing the topic of misogyny to a housewife going on to become an IPS officer, Indian television shows are breaking a lot of stereotypes, some close to being unrealistic. A regular day for television audiences involve some daily soaps interspersed with some non-fiction talent show. A couple of years back, Star India’s general entertainment channel, Star Plus, collaborated with TED and the first season of TED Talks India: Nayi Soch was born.
TED Conferences is an American media organisation that brings speakers from various genres and industries under one roof. These talks are filmed and later distributed for a larger audience. After the first season of TED Talks India aired in 2017, Star Plus is set to screen season 2 — TED Talks India: Nayi Baat. The host of the show continues to be, Shah Rukh Khan, and this time seven episodes will air in a span of 30 days.
“It gives Star India great joy when we bring a show of this kind. In our mind, this is redefining entertainment in someway, which we have tried to do in our way many times in this country. We hope this show will give powerful stories for Indian families to chat about,” says Sanjay Gupta, country manager, Star and Disney India.
This year the TED and Star team focussed on people who did not enjoy the media spotlight earlier. “These are ambitious change-makers trying to do something big,” shares Gaurav Banerjee, president and head, Hindi GEC, Star India.
The show will be recorded in English and Hindi and dubbed in other regional languages. “We have put a lot of visual content into the programme, there is short film content and animations part of the TED Talks, which we have never done at our main conference. You will see a visual difference in the programme that we think will attract an audience in a different way,” informs Juliet Blake, TED’s head of television.
While the show received critical acclamation, the ratings were abysmal despite Shah Rukh Khan being a part of it. “Ratings are really important and tells us how much engagement we are getting, how relevant and valuable we are to our consumers, and whether we are serving them well. Sometimes, ratings alone on just one programme can give you a very misleading idea,” says Banerjee.
“We want to be attractive and interesting to family audiences. We want to be innovative and are trying to do something different. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure a good response from consumers as measured through ratings and this keeps us thinking about what’s popular and what’s we’re going to do next,” he adds.
Banerjee believes that the times have changed and shows today live a longer life, “It is a long journey, a lot of the viewership also happens on Hotstar and therefore the good shows of today have a shelf life long enough to make it immortal,” he says.
Gupta endorses Banerjee’s views saying, “We’ve always taken risks and picked stories others thought weren’t massy. Satyamev Jayate is an example of that, we did Kabaddi when nobody thought it was a sport that should be put on air.”
He is also of the opinion that young kids of today use social and digital a lot more and having a digital arm like Hotstar gives Star India an opportunity to reach every Indian. “There are now towns and cities in our country where they don’t have a TV but have access to the internet and phone and are watching videos there. We have 20 crore TV screens today but there are 40 crore mobile screens where people are watching videos or consuming other content. We can reach out to all of them and take these inspirational stories to each one of them even if they don’t have a TV connection at home,” he says. Therefore, when editing the talks, special attention has been given to consider a mobile screen viewer.
This year, 26 speakers will share their talks and the show will air in Hindi on Star Plus while Star World will simultaneously broadcast the English version. Factual entertainment channel, National Geographic will air the regional feeds. The show will go on air on November 2, 2019, and will air on Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 p.m.