The Economic Reality of Reality TV Shows

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The Economic Reality of Reality TV Shows

At a time when television viewing culture had been going low in Nepal, it was the reality shows that pulled audiences back. From singing to dancing shows, from quiz-based to creativity-based shows, these reality shows revived TV viewing culture once again among Nepali audiences.

--BY DWAIPAYAN REGMI

These reality shows did not just give opportunities to explore hidden talents but also provided big opportunities to the new businesses in the television industry. The hype about reality shows is on the rise globally.

The franchised shows that are popular in Nepal seem to be back after the impacts of COVID-19 subsided. There are good things that these reality shows provide  training on the job to the entire team – from a panel of judges to hosts and back artists. They teach Nepali producers the real international standard. As these reality shows are helping in raising revenue for the government, they certainly are helpful from an economic point of view as well. A study conducted in the US has revealed that 80% of the revenue from these shows stays within the host nation itself, clearly indicating the economic benefits that these shows are generating. Further, these reality shows have been empowering various other personnel – from camerapersons, soundperson, technicians, and musicians to makeup artists and other wide range of workforce. It has been creating a direct impact on the transportation and hotel industry as well.

These reality shows have been able to create a new set of standards that Nepal can maintain to comply with the international level, proving to the global world. Although Big Boss, a franchise of the Dutch TV program Big Brother, has not yet been able to enter the Nepali market yet, maybe because of its complex way of production, other reality shows have made it with perfection. And, the best thing out of all is that it has been able to revive Nepali culture to a larger extent – those unheard songs are getting a new life, or those old almost forgotten songs are regaining popularity. As these international brands are easily recognised in their home country, they have well-established brand names, logos, and formats that get blended anywhere with ease.

But, these franchise shows do raise some questions. Are the host nations not capable of bringing their shows? Because, all the popular reality shows in Nepal are franchised ones – where the companies back in the home country themselves set the code of conduct which is often regarded as the ‘Bible’ for production companies. These production companies should strictly follow those codes of conduct – everyone from anchors to judges must adhere to their standards which raises the question of inability.

Why let the funds flow abroad in the name of franchise shows?

Even though it is stated that 80% of the revenue stays within the franchisees, the risk associated with the show is solely on them. Why should the franchisor always be benefitted can be the next question. How ethical is it to make a profit out of human emotions can be the next crucial issue to look at, because all those votes through SMS do have a cost, which should be borne by the audiences? So, these shows have often been blamed for creating geographical divisions too.

For developing nations like Nepal, these types of shows are not all about profit or economy-oriented. They should be rather taken as a lesson to comply with international standards. These types of shows were there in the past too – from Nepali Tara, Nepal Star to Aagan, from Ko Bancha Lakhpati to other idea-related shows. But, it has to be accepted that they were not up to the standard that we are viewing today. These franchise-based shows have set international standards raising the quality of video, sound, stage, and everything associated.

At a time when even countries like India have been adopting these franchise shows, there is no need for Nepal to be ashamed. Nepal should be proud enough for being able to organize such internationally-recognized events in Nepal complying with all the international standards – no doubt. But, this should be taken more as a lesson, an opportunity to learn the international practice than being habituated towards it. The producers are the greatest learner in this regard. Looking at the advertisements, it can be seen that these shows have been making huge earnings. The sponsors, SMS votes, advertisements along with YouTube views have been sources of revenue for them.

Although such data are not revealed in Nepal, it can be easily stated that they have been earning an impressive sum as the new seasons have been coming out on regular basis.

Though there are cons, the weight of pros seems to be heavier. But that does not mean that cons should be completely discarded. Nepal must be able to generate such reality shows on its own which would compete at the international level. Also, there is the trend of creating copycat shows which needs a break too.

The trend of all being dependent on Indian channels has been declining these days, which is good for the Nepali television industry. With the advancement of technologies, Nepali TV shows do have a bright future, but creativity and innovation should always be there.  

(Regmi is a Deputy Manager with Rastriya Banijya Bank Ltd)

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