Soap operas, but better

01 September,2023 06:59 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Mohar Basu

Sources say JioCinema creating web series with 100-plus episodes targeted at tier-2 cities’ TV-watching audience; more platforms to follow suit

JioCinema’s current roster includes originals such as (from right) Kaalkoot and Taali

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With the advent of OTT in India, the content landscape changed in the past few years. Long-format storytelling and quality stories dominated the web. Finite series came as a refreshing change of pace from the unending saas-bahu dramas on television. But it looks like there will be a new shift in the web world. Word is that JioCinema is planning to blend elements of TV and web for their new slate, which comprises shows that span over 100 episodes.

Sources say the move is a means to increase engagement on the app. "With this, they will target tier-2 and -3 cities where the language of entertainment differs vastly from the metros. The content will be different from television's daily soaps, offering genres over and above family dramas. The discussions are still in the early stages," says a source. Buzz in the industry is that the business model may eventually be replicated by other OTT platforms. "Since Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are international players, adopting this format will require approvals from their respective US heads. But Sony LIV and Disney+ Hotstar are looking at adopting the business model. The idea is to beat television instead of competing with other OTT players," adds the source.

Naturally, the content will differ from the current web series that are fast-paced and have quick payoffs. A writer in discussion with a leading platform for a 100-plus episodic show, on condition of anonymity, tells mid-day, "This requires a blend of television writing and OTT writing, where plots are set up for long-term payoffs. The internal brief is to write multiple seasons all at once. Since it has to cater to the taste of a tier-2 town viewer, the gore and sexual elements will be less, and there will be greater insistence on drama. An example would be the TV show, POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke (2016), which had international sensibilities but played out over 110 episodes."

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