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Covid impact: Lack of fresh TV content could spell drop in ad-revenue?

Mumbai: The decision of the Maharashtra government to stop all shooting impacts TV shows acutely, as compared to films or OTT series. The world of soaps, after all, needs a steady flow of content.

If shooting stops, channels are forced to run repeats. In turn that has direct impact on advertising revenue.

Many shows, realising the threat of that scenario are already shifting shooting base outside Maharashtra. “Hamari Wali Good News” is going to be shot at Manesar in Haryana. “Kundali Bhagya”, “Kumkum Bhagya”, “Qurbaan Hua” and “Apna Time Bhi Ayega” move to Goa. “Teri Meri ikk Jindri” is shifting base to Jaipur while “Kyun Rishton Mein Katti Batti” is moving to Surat for now.

The scene is similar for many reality shows. According to sources, “Indian Idol” has an episode bank for two weeks right now and “Super Dancer: Chapter 4” has a bank for a week.

Confirming that his show is shifting base, lead actor Siddhaanth Vir Surryavanshi of “Kyun Rishton Mein Katti Batti” says the entire team was tested for Covid on Wednesday and will be travelling on Friday.

“This was unexpected and the entire storyline is being reworked overnight. So, we are not sure what it will be but the story will definitely move outdoors,” he says, adding: “We will be moving to a resort and will be in a bio bubble. We will be following protocol.”

Siddhaanth adds they are mentally prepared to stay for a month. “Looking at how last year turned out. We are mentally prepared to be out for a month. I am going to miss my family and the comfort of home, but this is also a good time to bond with the team,” he says.

Budgets will be impacted, of course. According to experts, the cost of shooting an episode per day comes to Rs 1-1.5 lakh minimum. In this case, it could go up to Rs 2-2.5 lakh per day.

Trade analyst Atul Mohan says that due to this gap, producers might be forced to run old content, which might lead to advertisers consider the idea of backing out.

“Advertisers book slots a month in advance, sometimes they also do so for the entire season. So, they might stop their ads and agree to continue the contract once the fresh episodes are on air. Channels will lose money from ads. Of course, they will generate money from their web channels,” he says.

Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar dissects the situation bluntly: “If they are not shooting, then they are not earning. And who said this will last only for 15 days?”

While they continue to be worried about how their shows will survive, the actors also feel that the step has been taken in everyone’s interest.

Actor Prateik Chaudhary, who was last seen in Paramavatar Shri Krishna, says that this time off would give him a chance to work on himself.

“For an actor, shooting is not the only thing he needs to consider as work, I guess being an actor is a 24/7 job. You need to work on your craft, work on your fitness, and many things. When I don’t have a shoot or work, rather than cribbing or being negative, I am focusing on myself. I am really using this time in many things like doing my home workout, working on my acting craft, watching a lot of movies and series,” he says.

Actor Mrunal Jain says that this is the time for actors to look at other types of content.

“We were not expecting this at all and now this has led to a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen. I hope that the shows are able to survive as I am sure not many have large episode banks. As for me, I am at home, but I am regularly shooting content for social media. I feel this is the time that we can reconnect with our fans,” he says.

Kunal Jaisingh ends on an optimistic note. “We just started shooting, and somehow we really sensed looking at the situation that lockdown can be imposed. Even after so much of precautions and after following all Covid-19 guidelines so many actors and people on set tested positive. Hope the phase of lockdown lasts for a small time and we resume our work the soonest. We are already missing the shoot vibes,” he sums up the situation.

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