The Growth of Web Series: Building up on the drawbacks of TV
TV screens in India are occupied with shows having some sort of ‘saas-bahu’ drama, or featuring Naagins, Daayans, Chudails, and even humans turning into flies (looking at you, Sasural Simar Ka). There are comedy shows like The Kapil Sharma Show with overused and unfunny jokes. Then, there are some good at the start romantic-drama shows like Qubool Hai, which instead of seeing a proper ending, get dragged on and on until they turn into hilariously ridiculous ones like the others. Who can forget Pehredar Piya Ki where an 18-year old woman married a 9-year old boy?
Shifting Trends – The Rise of Web Series:
Television seems to be witnessing a downfall, seemingly in terms of quality content. We don’t mean to imply that TV is becoming irrelevant and will disappear in a year or two, only that there’s a new rising power – The Web Entertainment Industry.
The tides are shifting, from buttons on your remote to the touch of your screen. A good number of players have entered the Web Arena in India – Netflix, Amazon Prime, ALTBalaji, Zee5, Viu India, SonyLIV, VOOT, etc.
The Rise has its Reasons – From the Audience’s Perspective:
You don’t have to sit in front of a TV at specific timings to get your daily entertainment. Now, the entertainment comes to you – whenever you want, wherever you are, right on your device.
There are mostly No Advertisements between episodes on premium platforms. All of this with some quality content at a small fee – sometimes even less than what you pay monthly for TV shows. Even if there are ads, a 30 second ad is manageable compared to around 8 minutes of ads within a 30 minute slot on TV.
There’s novelty in the content. You have romantic shows as well as sports-based, you have reality shows, comedy, horror, drama, thrillers, history, sci-fi, fantasy, as well as biopics. The shows have a crisp and tightly-knit storyline, great casting and performances, and the youth of today are able to relate to the content in the web series.
Exploring Unconventional Themes:
With TV, there are chances where ‘humare sanskaaro ke viruddha hai ye sab’ people will raise objections to any sort of content that they find ‘offensive.’ And to avoid such complaints and issues, the shows already engage in self-censorship. Then, there are censor boards.
When it comes to the Web, other than regular rom-coms and drama genres, shows have ventured into themes which the TV shies away from even mentioning and concepts considered taboo in the society like BDSM, homosexuality, drugs, long-distance and live-in relationships, etc. Vikram Bhatt’s Maaya ventures into BDSM territory. ALTBalaji’s Romil and Jugal is a gay love story. A show like Netflix’s Sacred Games would’ve never seen the light of the day if it were meant for TV.
Not just shows featuring mature content, there are also shows following unique formats like Zee5’s Lockdown, Amazon Prime’s Harmony with A. R. Rahman, and Comicstaan. While there have been comedy shows and music reality shows on TV, these shows have a unique concept and format, and its engaging.
Will Web Series Industry outgrow and eclipse TV Industry?
The growth of TV in India is going to continue. It is still penetrating the rural areas and has a stronghold in the urban areas; however, the educated urban youth are actively watching more and more web series. TV is growing, but the Web Series Industry is growing faster, perhaps owing to the growing usage of smartphones, 4G Internet and High speed Wi-Fi.
It will take quite some time before the Web even comes close to the level of finance and viewership as Television, but one cannot deny that the Web is at least winning the war on the ‘quality content’ front.