I’ve begun paying closer attention to the rapidly changing landscape of television in India – like I said in earlier posts on TV, it is difficult to not pay attention to the astonishing pace and extent of changes taking place. Ownership, production logics, marketing and advertising, program formats/genres, audience categories, policy and regulation – every aspect of TV is in a state of transition and it will be interesting to observe these and other shifts over the next few years.
As someone who grew up with Doordarshan and later, with early cable & satellite TV (when there were all of four channels), I am struck by the many ways in which audiences have been carved up into identifiable and marketable units – youth, children, women, and so on. This logic isn’t surprising at all. What is surprising is how quickly this structure of TV has been normalized. So much so that now, TV channels are scrambling to figure out further levels of differentiation.
So how do english language “general entertainment channels” like AXN, ZEE Cafe, and Star World compete? By creating “essential afternoons,” “elite weekdays,” and “elite weekends” when these viewers can catch up on their favorite shows – everything from Aliens in America to Lost. According to this story on the trade site indiantelevision.com:
To hook viewers to its fare, two timeslots were created. “The Reality Stash” slot showcases reality content from 9 – 10 pm. This is followed by “Elite Weekdays,” showcasing international drama series at 11 pm.
“Elite Weekends” which is the non-primetime slot on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 pm. The aim is to allow the dedicated fan base to sit back and enjoy catching up on their favourite international series which they have missed out over the week. “We have, therefore, ensured they get to watch all the series back to back and have clearly positioned the band as – ‘Catch all the week’s action on AXN Elite Weekends’.”
…Clients find English entertainment a very important differentiator in the content arena and a strong association for their brands with evolved audiences.
Sounds like Vir Sanghvi’s prayers for television that speaks to People Like Him are being answered – only the best that American television has to offer and none of the shows that “middle India” watches Snark aside, this domain of english language “general entertainment” will be an important space to watch as powerful players like NBC Universal and Disney consolidate their position in the Indian TV market over the next few years.