Web Series are taking us where television won’t

Game of thrones

Few industries can boast the growth rate of Indian television industry. From a hand full of programs on Doordarshan, to hundreds of national and regional channels catering all kinds of content. Our small screen web series have come a long way in a span of fifty-eight years.

In 2016, the television industry generated 44.24 percent of the entire revenue of the Media and entertainment industry.

This figure indicates how television is an integral part of our lifestyle. But we are not entirely depended on it for our entertainment anymore. Most of us now chose Internet-based entertainment programs over watching television. Specially when it comes to fiction. And television itself has pushed us in that direction.

Watching doe eyed bahus in designer sarees struggle against evil relatives, logic defying plot twists and medical miracles on repeat, has disillusioned many of us from what we rightfully call the idiot box. Hence, we are rapidly moving towards web series, which are heavy on content rather than melodrama. But content is not the only reason why web series have been successful in grabbing our eyeballs. They have also made it a point to quench our thirst for diverse subjects and issues.

Live in relationships, homosexual love stories, BDSM, neo noir, or sci-fi thrillers… Indian web content developers are following the lead of their international counterparts and trying to bring us concepts that television would dare not touch. So, while general entertainment channels are still popular in both urban and rural households, web series have gained their own fan following.

Most of these shows work because the viewers are able to identify with the issues they raise. These shows are mirror our lifestyle and problems, which seldom find their way to the outlandish world of daily soap drama, with honesty.

They are pushing the boundaries of our imagination and leaving the burden of virtues behind. Another important reason why we resent TV is the barrage of advertisements which spoils our viewing experience. The skip button along with shorter and sparse interruption during program viewing sits well with the viewers who value every second they spend in front of the screen.

 Our increasing loyalty to web series not escaped the attention of television moguls. Popular entertainment channels and television producers are developing their own subscription based video on demand platforms, and surprisingly the content they are offering is very bold and creative.

It’s not as if television industry loves its repetitive, brain numbing line up. But they are bound by viewership and TRPs. A lot channels are even trying to bring divergent subjects on the small screen. But after fifty episodes or so, they succumb to the public demand. The writers eventually give-in to the pressure of acquiring more viewers, and fall into the traps of re-births, plastic surgeries, double roles and divine interventions. The ratings go up. The producers earn more money. But there is no creative satisfaction. And then these very producers and channels put the money earned from daily soaps in to making web series. Like movies. Like books.

We can cry all we want about the idiocy of such shows.But there is no escaping the fact that such shows will always find an audience.

It will be ages before we will able to get rid of the plague that is devouring the content from our daily soaps. If people are going to watch it, television is going to showcase it. We can cry all we want about the idiocy of such shows.But there is no escaping the fact that such shows will always find an audience.  We can only hope that the web series will find a bigger market and eventually generate more revenue than their television counterparts. Maybe then the latter will start thinking about reinventing itself.