Indian Youth TV Market Attracting Interest From International Production Companies

BBC Worldwide/Colors
India's version of "Dancing With the Stars," produced by BBC Worldwide India

BBC Worldwide is expanding its portfolio of localized youth programming with two new shows for MTV India, as the demographic attracts growing business from other players, such as the local offshoot of Endemol.

BBC Worldwide India has been commissioned by MTV India to produce two new daily fiction shows, MTV Fanaah and MTV Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan, for the channel. The shows add to the increasing portfolio of youth-targeted programming from Mumbai-based BBC Worldwide India. Both shows will go on air starting July 21, targeting the 35 million households that MTV says it reaches there.

MTV Fanaah (An Impossible Love Story) is about the lives of five teenagers involved in a supernatural theme along with a passionate love triangle.

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MTV Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan (How Are These Friendships) focuses on the relationships between college students who have come together as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.

"More than half of India's population is now below the age of 25 and more than 65 percent below the age of 35. To meet the demand for programs targeted at this growing population, many of our clients have come to us requesting more localized youth-oriented productions," said Mumbai-based BBC Worldwide India content and production COO Akhauri Sinha. "We are very excited to be collaborating with MTV India for the first time on these two new programs."

While youth content is a crucial part of the overall programming mix in the Indian television industry, generic Hindi entertainment programming has long commanded a sizeable chunk of viewership ratings and advertising revenues.

According to a recent report by consultants KPMG India, total Indian television advertising revenues touched $2.26 billion (136 billion rupees) in 2013 and is projected to touch $4.2 billion (253 billion rupees) by 2018. Hindi general entertainment channels commanded a 30 percent viewership share in 2013. By contrast, as an indicator of niche youth programming viewership, kids and music channels attracted a 7.5 percent and 3.6 percent share, respectively, in 2013, according to the report.

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BBC Worldwide has been producing a range of shows in India, such as Jhalak Dhikla Ja, the popular local version of Dancing With the Stars, currently in its seventh season. The show airs on Hindi entertainment channel Colors, owned by Viacom18, which also runs MTV India. In 2013, Jhalak Dhikla Ja was at the seventh spot among the top 10 general entertainment shows.

But BBCWW is not the only player in the local youth content game. The India affiliaite of Endemol has had a string of popular shows to its credit, such as local versions of Fear Factor and Big Brother, which also air on Colors. In addition, MTV India and rival Channel V (Star India's youth channel) produce or commission various homegrown reality and fiction shows.

However, BBCWW has been expanding its local offerings, launching three new local shows last year, including the Hindi version of U.K. series The House That Made Me. Har Ghar Kuch Kheta Hai — which airs on Colors — takes various celebrities back to their childhood homes to meet the people and places that influenced them. Ek Boond Ishq (One Drop of Love) was BBC Worldwide's first daily fiction series in India, revolving around a girl who realizes she is set to tie the knot with a jailed convict. The show airs on Star India's Life OK channel.

The production outfit's youth-oriented Yeh Hai Ashiqui (This Is Romance) airs on Disney India's Bindass channel. The Disney Channel India also airs the local version of the BBC's Mastermind quiz show.

Other localized formats include 2012's seven-part series My Big Decision — for Star India's youth outlet Channel V — which followed young people on their journeys of self-discovery.

While the BBC has been quite active in India on the production front, the network had to pull the plug on its two English entertainment channels owing to viability concerns over cable distribution carriage fees and other challenges. In 2012, the BBC discontinued BBC Worldwide (which aired shows such as Top Gear and Sherlock) and kids outlet Cbeebies, which had been running for five years.