By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) After the scheduled end of long-running serial "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi" Nov 10, a phase of fatigue on the 'idiot box' might also conclude, as newer channels like NDTV Imagine, 9x and Colors are bringing more variety and meaning in their content for viewers.
STAR Plus remained on top for a long time in terms of viewership with hit soaps "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi" and "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki", which ended recently. Fresh concepts and storylines adopted by new channels had led to a decline in their popularity.
This is being seen as a major reason behind STAR Plus' orders to production house Balaji Telefilms to terminate "Kyunki...", which is being termed as a "breach of contract" by the production major.
According to data received by TAM Media Research, in the Hindi-speaking markets and among cable and satellite viewers, Colors boasted of a total channel share percentage of 19.5, ahead of Zee's 16.2, and below STAR Plus' 22.6 in the Oct 5-11 week.
But Keertan Adyanthaya, general manager and executive vice president of STAR Plus, doesn't believe their channel's content is dull.
"Our content is varied and offers something for the entire family. We are continually refreshing our shows. In the last year, we have revamped the early primetime and launched shows like 'Santaan', 'Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat', and 'Bidaai' and others," Adyanthaya told IANS.
Zee had a steady stint behind STAR Plus until Colors made it big just after around eight weeks from its launch July 21.
Shows like "Kasammh Se", "Saat Phere", and "Teen Bahuraaniyan" of Zee are fast losing out to new concepts like "Balika Vadhu", "Mohe Rang De", "Radhaa Ki Betiyaan Kuch Kar Dikhayengi", "Main Teri Parchhain Hoon", "Jasuben Jayantilal Ki Joint Family" being telecast on new channels.
Most of these serials are a departure from the typical saas-bahu sagas that STAR Plus, Sony and Zee TV have sworn by.
While "Radhaa Ki..." is about the struggle of a single small town woman and her three daughters, "Balika Vadhu" focuses on child marriage. "Mohe Rang De" is set in the pre-Independence era and "Main Teri Parchhain..." is about a 21-year-old girl, who chooses to be the mother of three children.
Channel Colors' "Balika Vadhu" recorded a television rating (TVR) of 6.77 followed by STAR Plus' "Sapna Babul Ka... Bidaai" at 6 in the general entertainment category in the time slot of 8-8:30 p.m.
Though Ashwini Yardi, senior vice president and head of content at Colors, refused to comment on competition, she said that their most popular show "Balika Vadhu" has largely grown on word-of-mouth publicity and hopes for record-breaking TRPs for the same.
At NDTV Imagine, creative content head Shailaja Kejriwal, who was earlier associated with STAR Plus, believes that an appealing TV show must have a good message and add entertainment and some value to the viewer's life.
"The prime motive of the channel is to maintain quality programming. But honestly, it is tough to do different shows. After all, we are in a business and even though we want to do different stuff, we need to think about healthy TRPs," Kejriwal told IANS.
Talking of TRPs, serials until recently were driven by ratings, but the attitude is changing as channels are now trying to strike a balance between good ratings and quality.
Jamnadas Majethia's production house Hats Off Production has churned out some light-hearted family shows - "Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai", "Baa, Bahu Aur Baby" and "Jasuben Jayantilal Ki Joint Family". He feels that while deciding their content, channels must keep in mind that most Indian households still follow the single TV culture.
"In India, people still have a single TV culture and we need to cater to those houses. I try and make such shows that the entire family can watch including children, parents, grandparents, everyone," said Majethia.
"Reality shows are mostly watched by youth; women don't essentially like to watch them and, similarly, what women want to watch, children don't want to. So a balance is important," he added.
As far as STAR is concerned, the replacement for "Kyunkii..." and "Kahaani" will establish whether the channel will bring back shows like "Tanha" and "Saans", which were rich in content and popular too.
"We believe that variety is the spice of life and will be providing our viewers with a healthy mix of different kinds of entertainment," Adyanthaya said.