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BBC Worldwide's factual entertainment successful in India


30 Aug 2013
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Once in a blue moon or so, a television programme comes along that transfixes a nation and changes the daily routines of its viewers. The Great British Bake-Off is one of those. It airs once a week at 8pm on BBC One. And every week UK residents rush home to watch whose puddings have got saggy bottoms. In last season’s final episode, 14.49 million viewers tuned in to watch the 30-year-old Nadiya Jamir Hussain take home the crown of the best baker. That episode, on 7 October last year, was the most popular programming in the UK, apart from the sport of football.

GBBO is a sign of the times. One of the Beeb’s most successful innovations in recent times - though it will be moving to Channel 4 in the next season as its producer Love Productions has struck a deal for it with the former – it indicates how British and European audiences are lapping up what we in India may call rather tedious factual TV shows as they deal with more mundane everyday matters. BBC Worldwide has been at the forefront of driving this change with hits such as GBBO.

Says BBC Worldwide’s Factual Entertainment and Entertainment genre director Tracy Forsyth: “The audience here is more inclined to enjoy factual entertainment shows about perfecting a hobby or skill. The success story of The Great British Bake Off is a good example of this.”

This BAFTA-winning British television baking competition that first aired on BBC Two in 2010 is already on to its season seven this year

Extreme sports have also emerged as a favourite in other European, American and Australian markets. “Shows like Special Forces - Ultimate Hell Week, SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel 4, are doing exceptionally well," says Forsyth.

She notes that imbibing digital and social media into storytelling has added new dimensions to factual entertainment content leading to BBC Worldwide taking chances with several experimental formats.

“In Stupid Man, Smart Phone’ we asked the simple question - Can we survive the most remote locations in the world using only our mobile phones? Apart from this we have also roped in YouTube stars in our shows to leverage their fan base in the social media,” Forsyth explains.
Being a pioneer in the sector globally puts BBC Worldwide is in a comfortable position to leverage its rich international format library and devise relatable local content off it for the Indian market.

Forsyth’s Indian counterpart, BBC Worldwide India SVP and General Manager Myleeta Aga has been pushing the UK powerhouse’s fortunes in the Indian market. To date, the production house has produced innovative factual formats like the three seasons of Asian Paints HarGharKuchKehta Hai or ‘The House That Made Me ‘for Sony Entertainment Television and ColorsTV, two seasons of Epic Ke Dus on Epic TV, Inside Out for Discovery Channel, My Big Decision on Channel V and Wife Bina Life (The Week The Women Went) on Star Plus. Most recently BBC’s show Real Two States Couples featuring the best selling author Chetan Bhagat has aired on new factual entertainment channel FYI.

While keeping an eye on global trends helps understand where India stands in terms of content consumption behaviour, Aga reinforces the fact that the key to getting more eyeballs and ad revenues flowing in the genre in India is to catch the pulse of local content.

“Ours is a local content market - audiences want to see content that is relevant to them,” she states, confident of her team’s skill sets to meet the market’s ever growing need for quality content.

“Factual entertainment is just a step away from pure factual content where BBC Worldwide is a global leader,” adds Aga. Barring the genre leaders like Discovery, National Geographic Channel and HistoryTV18, newer channels like Travel XP, FYi, Insight Channel, Living Foodz have popped up in BARC India's infotainment category. Additionally, channels like Sony BBC Earth are also waiting to launch and further expand the genre, as reported earlier by indiantelevision.com.

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