MUMBAI: The lockdown is turning out to be all about nostalgic TV for small screen lovers in India, with iconic shows including "Ramayan", "Mahabharat" and "Office Office" returning to entertain people. These old show are suddenly finding new audience, and the trend could just continue in the post-pandemic world as well.
With the production of new content suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, channels are rummaging through their archives to fish out old popular shows across genres to revive.
Mythological has emerged as the winning genre, a trend which was reflected when Ramanand Sagar's popular TV serial "Ramayan", which came back on Doordarshan, broke all records to become the world's most-watched show on April 16 with 7.7 crore viewers.
"With television networks tapping libraries and the viewers' whole hearted embrace of this content, we are likely to see periodic revival of popular shows across media even after production starts again. Audiences are thirsty for 'comfort content' in India as well as in the west -- as the continued popularity of 'Friends' and 'The Office' also showed," Jehil Thakkar, Partner, Deloitte India, told IANS.
Right now, on air are re-runs of "Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashma", different versions of "Ramayan", "Mann Kee Awaaz Pratigya", "Balika Vadhu", "Dance India Dance", "Hum Paanch", "Horror Show", "Aahat", "Yeh Un Dino Ki Baat Hai", "Super Dancer: Chapter 3", "CID" and "Superstar Singer", to name a few.
"We are currently airing 'Ramayan' and 'Chandragupta Maurya' on Dangal TV. Both the shows have got a positive initial sentiment and we believe that it would only get stronger in the weeks to come. We have witnessed an uptake of mythological and historical shows and a surge in the average time spent," said Arpit Machhar, Head of Marketing, Enterr10 Television Network, adding: "Well-produced thrillers and family dramas, makes it an interesting package for viewers in times of the restriction."
According to a report by Airtel Xstream app, shows and movies from yesteryears have seen the biggest surge in demand from users. It stated that classics like "Malgudi Days", "Dekh Bhai Dekh", "Zabaan Sambhal Ke", have witnessed 300 per cent surge in streaming volumes.
There are also re-runs of youth-based reality shows, which includes "MTV Splitsvilla" season 10 and 11, "Love School" season 3, "MTV Ace of Space" season 1, "MTV Hustle" season 1 and "Girls on Top". In the English cluster, there are re-runs of "Koffee with Karan", "How I Met Your Mother", "The Walking Dead" on Star World and "Seinfeld" on Zee Cafe.
"On television, we have brought back previously aired seasons of 'Splitsvilla', 'Ace Of Space' and 'Love School' which have contributed to 35% of viewership while on digital we've stayed connected with our young audiences through a host of fresh properties such as 'MTV Adda', 'MTV Lockdown Stars' and 'MTV Hustle From Home'," said Ferzad Palia, Head, Voot Select, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18.
"This approach of keeping ourselves agile has led to MTV's continued category leadership with 65% growth in viewership. We are now one of the only channels in India, to showcase fresh, original content every weekend on TV through our 'from home' programming, coupled with some of our most loved iconic shows to cater to the varying interests of our young audience," Palia added.
It's not only the small screen which is witnessing a blast from the past. OTT platforms are also registering a similar trend.
According to a recent report by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Hindi GEC in Urban HSM (Hindi speaking market) grew by 31% over the pre-COVID period whereas strong gains for movies and original series on OTT platforms continue on smartphones.
"During these unprecedented times with the entire nation under a lockdown, we have observed classic shows like 'Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi' and 'Zabaan Sambhal Ke' gaining good traction," said Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited, which has OTT player ShemarooMe.
"The consumption has increased by more than 100% as compared to pre-lockdown period and continues to get the same viewership even now. With regards to the old movies, classics like 'Pakeezah', 'Beta', 'Barsaat' (1995), 'Jab Jab Phool Khile' have seen a huge spike on ShemarooMe. Additionally, family and comedy entertainers like -- 'Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke', 'Dulhe Raja', 'Masoom', 'Satte Pe Satta' are also doing well. We have seen more than 100% spike in the viewership of classic category as compared to pre-lockdown period," Gada added.
To this, Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now, added: "We have seen a surge of 70% to 100% on our daily engagement also time spent on large screen viewership has been very encouraging."
"In fact, OTT platforms have seen 50% rise in time spent on watching movies on their platforms in week 14 (starting April 14) as compared to pre-COVID times, as per the recent BARC report," he pointed out.