The Indian Premier League has come to a close and adland is talking about how brilliant the programming was. Let me play the devil’s advocate here by saying that the IPL is not the cat’s whiskers. It’s just another cricket tournament. It’s not the World Cup, it’s not India Vs Pakistan, it’s not the ashes. Yet it did brilliantly, with the finals being watched by an estimated 24 million viewers who spent an average of 88 minutes watching the closing ceremony and the match.
These viewers chose with their remote controls to stay away from their soaps on the general entertainment channels, their favourite songs on the music channels, the hype and the hoopla of the news channels and their favourite stars on the movie channels. They also chose to stay away from the multiplexes.
Actually, they didn’t. The entire television industry and Bollywood went into a combined panic and manic depression which convinced them that no consumer would watch anything other than the IPL. Which caused all big ticket programs on television and big banner films to be postponed till the end of the IPL. Sarkar Raj was put on hold; STAR Plus’ Paanchvi Pass kept their Laloo Prasad episode in cold storage. Sony, Zee, 9X and Imagine have slotted all their new shows for the next few weeks. All these could have been entertainment options for the viewer who had nothing else to watch.
Have the GECs and Bollywood missed a trick here? What might have transpired if all of them had stuck to their original plans and not got spooked by the IPL? Could the IPL have been in trouble with the onslaught of good content on the GECs and Amitabh Bachchan in the multiplexes?
If it’s too much to expect all the players to be brave, is it too much to expect at least one of them to have confidence enough in a product to slot it during the pendency of the IPL?
Or is it the state of television and Bollywood? That there is no time to succeed, and instant figures can be cruel? Is this good for television – the trend for programmers to play safe rather than take calculated risks with programs that have huge upsides? It is such programs that have made channels number one; the safe can at best deliver safe numbers. Which begs the question: With the glut of GECs on air and proposed, can a gambler walk away with all the spoils and endanger today’s leaders?