Earlier, the television would be on for three to four hours a day and I would alternate between news and reality dance shows. Since my son began working from home ten days ago, it is on for 10 to 12 hours a day. The entire family even eats in front of the screen,” says Manju Rani, 63.
A retired school teacher and resident of Safdarjung Enclave, it is not only Rani’s family of five who spend most of their waking hours watching television. It is the same since mid-March for most families in urban India, forced to stay indoors after a nationwide lockdown was declared from March 25 due to the rising cases of COVID-19.While television actors are usually extremely busy with super hectic schedules — many working in double shifts — there is no new content being produced now, leading several channels to air reruns and classics.
Doordarshan, for instance, released an old-favourite, Ramayana, last week. Five more shows, including Circus, Shaktimaan and Byomkesh Bakshi, are also being telecast. Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharati, says, “We are witnessing a surge in digital traffic as many are watching Doordarshan online… The support and feedback from the public has been overwhelming. Social media was flooded with celebrities tweeting about Ramayana.” Talking about accessing the vast library of National Film Development Corporation, Vempati adds, “That’s an ongoing thing. Right now our priority is Public Interest Messaging to make sure everyone stays home and stays safe. No new content can be developed at this time, with most production activities coming to a halt.”
The Broadcast Audience Research Council data for the week ending on March 20 shows that the consumption of television content has increased by over 72 billion viewing minutes, indicating an eight per cent jump in total viewership from January. “There is a healthy growth in average daily reach (six per cent) as well as average time spent (two per cent). More people are watching television every day. A lot of the growth in time spent is from the news genre, but movies and the kids genres have also seen a growth in the time spent, four per cent and 11 per cent respectively. Compared to the pre-lockdown four-week average, maximum growth in viewership can be seen in the afternoon band (12-2 pm) and morning band (10 am to 12 pm), at 29 per cent and 31 per cent respectively,” says Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, ZEE. On March 25, the channel started airing some of the new shows from digital platforms on television. “We started a new band with three new finite shows, Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, Baarish and Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain — in the 9 to 11 pm slot. It made sense to offer finite series as the lockdown is a temporary phenomenon, post which one would resume shoots and continue with the usual line-up,” adds Aparna Bhosle, Business Cluster Head, Zee TV & FTA GEC Channels. The channel is airing longer reruns of its popular shows, including Kumkum and Kundali Bhagya, between 7 to 9 pm. Zee TV classics such as Kasamh Se, Jamai Raja, Jodha Akbar, Zindagi Ki Mehek, Choti Bahu, Pavitra Rishta and Brahmarakshas will also be aired.
While Sony is airing reruns of shows such as The Kapil Sharma Show, Star Plus is telecasting Hostages, a thriller from its streaming platform, and two new shows — Maharaj Ki Jai Ho, a science fiction comedy, and RadhaKrishn, a love saga.
With increased screen time and limited fresh content, it is time to turn to
classics and reruns of popular shows.