Ouch Potato! What India really watches on TV

TV ratings have consistently proved one thing — hype does not necessarily increase the popularity of any show. The plain and simple fact is that if viewers like a show, they will stick to it, no matter what; period. And if the channel is free-to-air, that’s the icing on the cake. The last week of Bigg Boss 13 saw a lot of hype being created around the show.

There was a mid-week eviction about to happen, and actor Vicky Kaushal was the guest. Fans of the show were on the edge, waiting to see who would be evicted. It turned out to be Mahira Sharma. And as we all know, Sidharth Shukla was finally declared the winner.

Ouch Potato! What India really watches on TV

But interestingly, even with all the hype around it, Bigg Boss did not cause much of a ripple in terms of TV ratings. It managed to notch up 6581 impressions according to BARC ratings of Week 6 (February 8-14, 2020) in the Urban segment.

What the audience really loves are the ubiquitous soaps. Yes, they still rule and perhaps, it will be a long time before reality shows can hope to match up to them. The top five shows during the same week are Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya, which is at the top with 7858 impressions, followed by Naagin: Bhagya Ka Zehrila Khel on Colors at 7139 (the Naagin theme has been done to death in Hindi movies and TV series, but it just never seems to lose its appeal), Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Star Plus (6981), Kumkum Bhagya, Zee TV (6629) and Chhoti Sardarni (6588), again on Colors.

Ouch Potato! What India really watches on TV

Interestingly, three out of the top five series have the word bhagya in them. All three of them are from the Balaji Telefilms factory. Does that tell you something about the strategy of the production house? One must admit, though, that after 20 years in the game, the original Indian Soap Queen, Ekta Kapoor, is far from down and out. On the contrary, she seems to be getting better at it.

Returning to the hype around program-mes, the ratings of the two much-hyped shows of Sony TV, Kapil Sharma Show and Indian Idol fell behind Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah (TMKOC), which will complete 12 years on July 28. While the comedy series garnered 6115 impressions, the stand-up comedy show and the music show were at 6097 and 5983 respectively.

Ouch Potato! What India really watches on TV

The TV ratings also show a stark rural-urban divide when it comes to audience preference. It also shows that viewers in the rural segment prefer free channels, if they find the content reasonably interesting, rather than paying for them.

In the rural segment, Dangal, a free channel, appears to have obliterated all other TV channels in terms of the popularity of its shows. Out of the top 10 programmes in this segment, the first seven are from Dangal. And that is not all. The number of impressions these programmes have garnered is also huge.

Its series Devi Aadi Parashakti is at the top with 13040 impressions. This is followed by Baba Aiso Var Dhundo. This series, about a girl struggling with dwarfism and looking for a dignified life, seems to have struck a chord with viewers in the rural segment in a big way, with 12709 impressions. Among the top 10 shows, it captures all positions from the second to the seventh.

The great rural-urban divide is visible in the channel ratings too. While Colors tops the Week 6 ratings with 512416 impressions in the urban segment, in the rural segment, it is in the last position in the Top Five channels list with just 209244 impressions. To put it in perspective, Dangal tops this list with 919302 impressions, followed by Big Magic (298603), Zee TV (249870) and Star Plus (216254).

In fact, Dangal also tops the list of the Top 10 channels across all genres and all platforms (Free and Pay), in the All India, Urban-Rural segment with an eye-popping 1198552 impressions. In this segment, Colors is at number three, while Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony SAB, Sony Entertainment Television, all major channels in the urban segment, are at number five, six, seven and eight, respectively.

So the next time you want to know what the audience really loves on TV, check the ratings. Or ask Ekta Kapoor.

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Free Press Journal