How mythological shows are climbing up the viewership ladder again

Two years back, I remember my parents telling me how reverentially they used to sit in front of the TV screens when Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’ was aired every Sunday morning in the 1980’s. Being a millennial, I couldn’t understand such ‘devotion’ towards a mythological show on television. But the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns imposed across the country last year made me realise the power that such mythological shows – over two decades old – still hold over the country’s population, regardless of the age.

During the first wave of COVID-19, BARC India data for Week 13 revealed that DD National registered viewership of 580 million in the 9-10.30 am time band, a huge jump of 39,006 per cent during the telecast of Ramanand Sagar’s mythological series ‘Ramayan’ over 1 million in Week 12 [HSM/ 2+/ growth in Wk 13 over Wk 12; Wk 2 to Wk 4]. For the 9-10.30 pm time band telecast of ‘Ramayan’, the numbers were even more dramatic – viewership of 835 million, a growth of 45,834 per cent over 2 million recorded in Week 12. 

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Mythological genre records 73% growth in Week 19; Comedy genre up by 36%: BARC

Amid the second wave of COVID-19 infections, where people are once again confined to their homes, Mythological serials have registered tremendous growth. As per BARC India data [All India, 2+ | Viewing Minutes | Hindi GEC | Serials Mythologicals/ Costume Dramas] Mythological serials on Hindi GECs saw a 73% growth in Week 19 (Saturday, 8th May 2021 To Friday, 14th May 2021), over Week 14 (Saturday, 10th April 2021 to Friday 16th April 2021).

What makes mythological shows have a long shelf life is the fact that the stories and characters are deeply embedded in our cultural ethos. As shared by producer Dheeraj Kumar, “One might have heard these stories from their grandparents as a child, but over the years nothing has changed – be it the storyline, attire, their mannerisms, their charisma, the familiarity, their popularity, that will never fade even after 100 years. What might change is just the technicality, there might be technical upgradation and the way that it might be presented to the viewers. Today’s generation might not have the time to read the scriptures, but if it is captured in a fascinating way, people are fascinated and that is the reason time and again such serials are made. When a viewer gets attached with a show with Shraddha and Bhakti, he might feel that he is watching an elderly person and he just gets attached to that particular mythological show.”

Due to the nationwide lockdown last year, popular classics found a renewed interest amongst the audiences as it helped them to find solace in times of distress. Speaking about re-telecasting popular old mythological serials, Aprit Machhar, Head of Marketing, Enterr10 Television, said, “Now, with the second wave of COVID-19 causing massive disruption across the nation, we, at Dangal TV, believe that the onus to ensure our viewers are entertained while staying safe indoors rests upon us. By showcasing ‘Ramayana’ once again, we are sure the show will invoke nostalgia amongst our audience and help them to stay calm and enjoy responsibly while staying indoors. Epic mythological tales like these are evergreen and managed to strike a chord with viewers across all age groups. During these stressful times, the re-telecast of ‘Ramayana’ will once again bring families closer together and make family viewing a better experience. With an aim to boost the entertainment quotient, we intend to motivate our audiences once again with culturally rooted content during these unprecedented times.”

As per BARC data, impressions for Dangal TV recorded a growth of 7% in Week 17, when the channel’s reach catapulted by additional 2 million, while time spent has increased by 5% over the previous week. The launch of ‘Ramayana’ on April 26, 2020 led to 45% growth for the slot for the week.

Keerat Grewal, Partner, Ormax Media, remarked, “India is largely a single TV household market, which means that families watch TV together. In this context, genres such as Mythology and Comedy on GECs, that pass the filters of both age and gender preferences, will deliver better results.”

While the mythological genre has always worked well on GECs, it has received additional traction during the pandemic times. Speaking about the kind of surge that the mythological shows are receiving this year, Karan Taurani, VP - Research Analyst (Media & Consumer Discretionary), Elara Capital, opined, “Families are sitting at home right now and these shows are typically family-based shows and that is the first reason it is picking up, and secondly, there are a lot of non-fiction and other content that are not available right now, so these shows are getting more eyeballs.”

At the same time, Taurani added, “In terms of overall impact, don’t expect the numbers to surge as they did last year, because last year there was no shows at all, but in the current year if you see, 50% of the shows have fresh episodes coming in, because the shoots have been shifted to alternate locations. No doubt viewership will go up, but don’t expect it to go up like last year.”

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia)


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