Industry POV

“How well placed is the crime genre on television in the long run” - Sujata Dwibedy

20/12/2016

There is no dearth of crime-based shows on Hindi GECs. With &TV coming up with another such show – Hoshiyar… Sahi Waqt, Sahi Kadam – the question arises whether there is space for another such show on Indian television

Talk about crime as a programming genre and Hindi GECs are flooded with it. Someone not accustomed to the Indian television space may think crime is limited to the news genre alone but that is not the case.

Successful examples of crime as a programming genre started in the 1990s with Byomkesh Bakshi, India’s Most Wanted and Karamchand. Recent successes include Crime Patrol (Sony) and Savdhaan India (Life OK).

The list doesn’t end here. There are those that ended recently, including Gumrah (Channel V), MTV Webbed (MTV), Code Red and Shaitan (Colors), Dial 100 (Life OK), Pyar Ya Dehshat and Police Files (Big Magic).

All these shows are dramatization of real-life crime incidents and boast of creating awareness about crime. Adding to the list now is &TV’s upcoming show Hoshiyar… Sahi Waqt, Sahi Kadam! It premieres on December 24, Saturday, with Mohnish Bahl as host. Co-Powered by Flamingo Orthopedic Heat Belt and Vir Laminate, the show’s format looks similar to the earlier shows.

All of these shows have a slightly different positioning, like Savdhaan India has the angle of citizens helping themselves in coming out of a crime while Crime Patrol shows cases that are solved by the police. Gumrah was based on crimes against youth and MTV Webbed focussed on cyber-crimes.

Positioning
It is yet to be seen which positioning Hoshiyar picks up. Will it be an attempt at bringing a new audience to the weekend primetime?
As explained by the channel, “The show will highlight the important aspect on the need to be alert and take timely action towards stopping a wrongdoing or crime in their vicinity. Each episode will create awareness about the heinous crimes being committed in the society, ranging from common day-to-day identifiable situations to more complex situations such as cybercrimes, online frauds, and others.”

The genre has a sharp male skew but Crime Patrol is one such show that comes out as a clear winner even for family audiences. Some media planners referred to the genre as ‘The Crime Patrol Genre’. But do we have space for another such show on Indian television? Will advertisers buy more such shows? BestMediaInfo spoke to a few media planners and experts to understand the viability of the genre in the long run.

Explaining the differentiation of content in the new show, Rajesh Iyer, Business Head of &TV, said, “With an aim to strengthen our weekend programming, we are excited to present our new offering in the crime genre – Hoshiyar…Sahi Waqt, Sahi Kadam. Rather than a post facto of the crime, Hoshiyar will give viewers an experience of thrill with a race against time to avert the crime from taking place. We are glad to have Mohnish Bahl on board as he brings a lot of gravitas to the show with his powerful personality.”

Expert views
Pratik Rathod, National Trading Head, Maxus, said, “The most important part of success or failure of such shows is ‘presentation of content’. The crime cases are not flowery or glorious in any form but they are handled with maturity on the general entertainment channels meant for family viewing. Crime Patrol is considered one with good quality and maturity of production in this sense.”

Sujata Dwibedy, ‎Executive Vice-President at Carat India on Team Mondelez, felt that while the channels are flooded with similar content, crime is a more region-specific genre. She explained, “The kind of market it caters to is different. A lot of &TV viewership comes from UP and Bihar and these markets have a skew for this kind of content. These markets have a lot of crime stories, and even if there are too many shows in the genre, I am sure not all of these stories are covered. There might be fatigue, but right now the audience has an appetite for these shows and you never know this one might click.”

Dwibedy points out that even if one feels that the existing shows aren’t working, the repeats are garnering enough and more numbers for them. Rathod too backs this logic, saying that we can’t shy away from the fact that these shows throw up viewership numbers consistently.

Advertising vs viewership
So, is viewership equal to advertising even here too? How excited and interested are advertisers for these shows? Dwibedy said, “It takes some time to build up, but the genre has clicked with the viewers for sure but most advertisers still don’t prefer these shows. They get advertising because not always is a show bought, advertisers buy time slots too. While this show has two powered by sponsors, I don’t think any of the food brands or FMCG players will ever have a long-term association with these kinds of shows. Yes, time slot buying might have such brands on the show.”

Rathod has a different point of view. He said that while most brands, especially the male skewed ones, are happy associating with this genre, some of the global brands wish to stay away. “Some global brands consider this genre to have a grey shade and negativity and don’t want to get on-board such properties. However, some of the Indian brands like Tata Ace is seen to be advertising quite regularly with Crime Patrol.”

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