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Will Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’s return excite viewers and advertisers?

Nostalgia makes a return on television as Star Plus begins to air a two-decade old massively popular soap, ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. Twenty years back, this soap had the nation enthralled with the happenings in the Virani family and its lead protagonists – Tulsi and Mihir – became a part of every India family. 

‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ was on air at prime time for eight years and had close to 2,000 episodes and had garnered the highest TRPs at that time. It aired in an era (between 2000 and 2008) when the television industry was on a growth curve and people were ready to sample newer content with spectacular visuals and intriguing storylines. 

A lot has happened in the media scenario in these 20 years. The most significant of these changes is the rapid growth of OTT. Video streaming platforms have spawned a new generation of content that is bold, sometimes controversial, and unrestrained by the strict programming code of television. The millennials and the younger generation is more skewed towards OTT, as various reports have revealed. 

On the other hand, the pandemic period has shown the power of nostalgia, especially during the first lockdown in 2020, which brought to a halt all shootings of films, TV serials, web series and ad shoots. This led to an unprecedented situation when television ran out of fresh content. It was during this time when the channels ran their old marquee shows and Doordarshan became the surprising No. 1 channel for some weeks on the back of the re-runs of its massively popular serials such as ‘Ramayan’, ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ and more. 

Star Plus is airing ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ in the early evening slot of 5 pm and not the prime time. Will this time slot attract enough eyeballs, as most people – who have started going to office again – won’t reach home? Moreover, will this serial be able to attract the younger generation, who is more attuned to much more advanced and complex story plots? Also, will advertisers be interested in a property like ‘Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, which might seem a bit outdated saas-bahu saga in the age of ‘Lust Stories’, ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Mirzapur’, ‘Tabbad’ and the lot. 

Divya Radhakrishnan, Managing Director, Helios Media, is excited about the show’s return as she said, “I think it’s a great idea to bring back some strong content from the past as the viewer base has expanded exponentially and there is a new set of audience available. Also since the basic premise still features among current popular shows it will work. Not to mention earlier fans who will come back.” 

On the other hand, Sandeep Goyal, MD, Rediffusion, noted, “I think it is going to be difficult to recreate the magic. In 20 years, as a nostalgia product it will surely have a curiosity factor, but creating a sustained loyal base will be a challenge.” 

Karan Taurani, Senior VP - Research Analyst, Elara Securities, added here, “There have been other shows in the past which have been repeated, what it does as an advantage is that it adds a lot of value in terms of the audience space, because there is a certain recall of that certain brand which was there years ago and apparently people will like to watch it in a new avatar or the new format.” 

At the same time Taurani noted that in today’s time, the problem in getting viewership for these kinds of shows to what it was back in the day was on a steady state basis is a challenge. “On a steady state basis, I don’t see much reverts for these kinds of shows as compared to what it was earlier. Clearly an eyeball shift has happened towards digital in a very big way. Even generally, in terms of this kind of content consumption is also happening through catch-up TV on OTT. There might be an initial buzz on people who would want to catch up, but of course the number will not be that much as compared to how it was earlier. TV as a medium has matured in terms of consumption and that’s impacting ad spends as well.” 

JD Majethia observed, “Viewership of ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ at this juncture will be really exciting to watch. The biggest reason is people today know Smriti Irani very well and the newer generation too have heard about her journey from there to here (minister). The older generation, who have already watched this serial, will again come and watch it on Star Plus. Ronit Roy, Smriti Irani, Amar Upadhyay were all great names of that time, to watch that starcast once again, people will once again come and watch the serial.” 

He further said, “Even today our thought process hasn’t drastically changed, but has been an improvised version of what it was earlier, so in terms of content, if you see the content of Star Plus, it shows family value really nicely. For example, shows like ‘Anupama’, a story about women's journey, are doing really well.” 

However, the TRP and viewership depends hugely on the time of airing as well. For a 5.00 pm time slot, it might be that the viewer is not even at his place and has access to television at that time. The viewership will depend on how many people actually can manage to have the time to watch the serial at 5.00 pm.

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