Small screen action beyond the box

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 05:30am hrs
Television channels are no longer content with their soapy trail, docu-drama and travel shows. In a bid to encourage interactivity and involve viewer participation, channels indulge in out-of-box activities, hoping to make a significant difference to TRPs and get a headstart over rivals. In the nineties, roadshows organised by channels served the dual purpose of connecting with the audience and generating interest about them. Things seem to have changed considerably since then. Scouting for veejays in nationwide talent hunts, rewarding young journalists, telecasting vignettes from and actual shots surrounding an Indian wedding, rewarding community enterprise, getting viewers to select their favourite star and make them win contests to glitzy glimpses of a sar-studded awards night, television offers much more than your daily dose of entertainment and information.

An initiative spearheaded by music channels MTV and Channel V who spent a considerable amount of time organising concerts, contests, and managed to create a buzz among the target audience. Now even niche channels like BBC and Discovery Travel Living and general entertainment channels seem to have joined the fray with a vengeance. Says BBC commissioning editor, Narendra Morar: BBC World features programmes that also delineate human achievements. World Challenge is about people, businesses and organisations putting something back into their communities and the show provides for viewer involvement and interactivity. Such initiatives engage viewers in a positive way. We will be doing a new series this year: World Challenge 2007 for which nominations open on February 5, on a global basis.The 12 finalists will be showcased in six programmes and viewers across the globe will vote for the winners who will receive cash grants to put back into their projects. Earlier on, BBC telecast six months of budding musician Nicola Benedettis career; as part of the series, Generation Next. On January 14, Channel V rocks Mumbai with a big concert where the likes of musician Akon will share stage with Priyanka Chopra and other big names from the Hindi film and music industry. We are not just looking at revenues, the concert will create a lot of excitement among people and this in turn will give us eyeballs. We also launched a series of promos revolving around our desktop calendar and will be looking for fresh faces in modelling in Get Gorgeous 4. The idea is to keep viewers involved and interested, so merely shows telecast on the channel is not enough,feels Channel V head honcho Amar K Deb. MTVs signature awards, MTV Lycra Style Awards, the Aids awareness concert are some out-of-the box initiatives which have been much appreciated. Having an exclusive style award, selecting our very own roadiesmake us different, thinks Ashish Patil, vice president and GM (creative and content), MTV India.

Sonys senior VP (marketing-communication) Aseem Kapoor says, most of our on-ground activities are usually with properties which are well-established and have some prior viewership, like Indian Telly Awards, IIFA, GIFA, Miss India. We have a brand association with certain shows and our viewers expect them on our channel. We have also organised our own events Kudiyan Bemisal, Dhol Baje. Most of these shows have been successes and has brought in sizeable revenue for us. Agrees Star Plus Paritosh Joshi, president (ad sales): We have exclusive events like Star Parivar Awards, Sabsey Favourite Kaun, Star Screen Awards and inititatives like concerts in Delhi, Star-Swades campaign where we adopted a village give us an edge over others. In terms of revenue, they are good. These initiatives involve the viewer in our channel.

As long as such initiatives bring in revenues and keep the audience rivetted, they will continue on air, on ground.