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Changing the TV game

Changes in the television industry has seen control of content being taken over by the consumers. Manuel Ntoyai puts a spotlight on the issue

Despite the fast changing scene in technology, the film and television industry is yet to seriously leverage on this. Recently during the Riverwoods Academy Awards, Youth Enterprise Development Chairman Ronald Osumba broke news that local film makers will now be able to access the government’s purse and be funded for their projects.

This was well received by the stakeholders present but taken with a pinch of salt. For quite a while, there has been numerous calls for the government to step in and give the film industry the much needed jab to boost its potential and confidence.

This is because for decades, film industry has been neglected and it has affected not only the film world, but also the TV experiences. This led to the industry being exploited by scrupulous businessmen and whether good or bad, the scope changed to a consumer-led industry.

Quality products

“For local TV show producers, things are difficult because while there is demand for high quality products in the market, the returns are not promising,” says Phil Bresson, Director of Cinematography at Insignia Productions.

“ For local average consumers, soap operas and TV drama series attract the viewers in the same group. However, media companies prefer to buy the soaps because they are cheap after being produced in their primary country for re-sale,” he adds.

Access to premium content due to availability of digital streaming devices is also affecting the TV World.  Decades ago, it was normal for families to sit together to watch their favourite shows and anyone who wanted to watch anything, it had to be agreed by simple majority.

Things have, however, changed, as individual family members can watch whatever they want from their laptops, tablets or even mobile phones.  Social media pressure has come as both a blessing and a curse.

Ratings no longer have to be done by research companies as TV producers can now directly engage with their audiences using hashtags and other social media promotions. Through this, they have been able to drive conversations and better their products.

“ We can’t ignore the role that social media plays in shaping TV audience’s preference and tastes. If Netflix, for example, are releasing a product, we all know how big they go to creatively market themselves.

Locally, the same is catching up as you will see some shows trending on social media as producers try to expand their markets and increase their visibility,” says Phil.

Demand for unique content has driven up innovations in terms of storytelling. With technology at the driving seat of the TV programming, traditional content providers are burning midnight oil as they try fight competition brought by the new entrants.

Traditional companies

Not afraid to go against the norms of today’s society, the new kids on the block are stretching to points where traditional companies would never imagine.

Topics such as having openly gay characters on prime time television shows or even allocating sports for prime time. The entry of reality TV shows has helped create stars who in turn have helped shape the viewing trends.

“ Reality TV shows are somehow cheaper to produce and there is an endless list of willing participants who will do anything to gain the attention of the public through endless drama. This in turn drives up the shows ratings which should translate to more money as advertisers would be looking for such.

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