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Virtual reality? Youngsters driving traffic towards web series

A new web show launches every week. Is TV feeling the heat? The market for web shows is increasing by the day due to its innovative content

It can be described as a paradigm shift. More and more production houses are getting into the web series business as the audience, especially the younger lot, is shifting towards the digital medium. It is said that the revenue for television shows has gone down by 28 per cent. The market for web shows is increasing by the day due to its innovative content. While TV shows, in their clamour for TRPs, turn their female protagonist into a fly, web shows are not taking recourse to any such gimmicks. hitlist speaks to film and TV folk about the change in scene...

Baked chronicles the lives of three university flatmates
Baked chronicles the lives of three university flatmates

Raghu Ram who is currently producing his show, Sinskaari, on Voot, says, “I don’t think web series are much of a challenge to television shows. Firstly, the reach of television is much bigger than the web. Secondly, they cater to different audiences, TV caters to families as there is one television in the house and everyone is watching it. With web series coming up, brands have an alternate medium to talk to their target audience. They will still have television, but since the youth is gradually growing in numbers and shifting to the online medium, that space will be tailor-made for them. Online content is edgier, more relevant and the tonalities are different. I don’t know if there has been a dip in television revenue and whether it is because of web series; however, it could be just one of the many factors. As of now, it is at a nascent stage.” He, however, feels it does open avenues for advertisers to market their products online.

Permanent Roommates
Permanent Roommates

The beginning
TV producer-director-writer Rajan Shahi, who is currently working on his long-running show, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, is excited about the shift. His production house is in the scripting stage of a new web series. Rajan claims that while digital shows are just beginning to pick momentum, there’s a good chance it will overthrow TV in the near future. “It is too soon for it to affect the TV content, but digital is the future. The base has begun and you will have a different kind of audience drawn to it. It is not an immediate threat to TV, but everyone in the media knows that it is the future. It will take a few years more to get that revenue.”

A still from VF Pitchers
A still from VF Pitchers

Nothing new
He further adds that the lack of innovation on TV is what is pushing people to explore other options. “There is no innovation in television. The shows try to project that they are progressive, but ultimately they are still regressive and display conventional things. We are behind when it comes to content. So the web is a good platform for people who are tired of daily soaps,” he adds.

Alok Nath in Sinskaari
Alok Nath in Sinskaari

YRF's Bang Baaja Baaraat
YRF's Bang Baaja Baaraat

Breaking norms
Yash Patnaik, who has produced shows for the youth (Sadda Haq) and the older generation (Kuch Rang Pyaar Ke Aise Bhi), claims that digital series are a marvellous platform for those who don’t wish to conform to norms and traditional stories. “As a producer, it doesn’t affect us at all, instead, it opens up a new avenue to produce content. On a long term this is a marvellous idea that will pick and gain momentum. You can make a show and upload it on YouTube or sell it to other digital platforms. Budget and revenue is subjective. A TV show is commissioned for different prices. A web series may start at Rs 3-4 lakh per episode, but you are only producing 10 episodes. Even if it is Rs 50 lakh your revenue will only be about Rs 5 crore. However when you spend Rs 7-8 lakh and make over 250 episodes, your cost will go high, you may get about Rs 20 crore. If the show runs for a few years then you will easily make over Rs 50-60 crore. So it depends on a lot of variables. However, about television viewing going down, I think the decline has been happening for the last two to three years. It could be because the new audience has not joined in as they’ve found a new medium. Having said that, the target audience for both mediums is different with minimal overlapping.”

Raghu Ram
Raghu Ram

More watchable
Richa Chadha claims that TV was never her thing and she is more inclined to the digital space. “The current trend is web series, we are transitioning into that.

Richa Chadha
Richa Chadha

It has content you and I can watch. We can’t relate to Naagin and I am sure the naagin in the Naagin can’t relate to it. The audience has shifted. When my parents were young they’d watch things like Buniyaad and Hum Log, which was story driven. Now we constantly churn out episodes every day due to which quality deteriorates. TV better buck up and take stock. The greed on the web is that there is no censorship, but the downside of it is that people may go overboard with it. As for the revenue in digital, I think the money is coming. Several digital companies from Hong Kong, Singapore and LA are now investing in it this year itself."

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