Bangladeshi TV shows fail to cater to ageing audiences

Photo: Orchid Chakma

With the influx of paid digital platforms that allow us to choose from a sea of content without ad interruptions, modern viewers no longer strictly rely on cable/network television for entertainment and information.

But this metamorphosis of TV has created a dearth of deshi content catering to the older generation that still prefer cable channels over OTT services such as Hoichoi and Netflix.

Older audiences, like our parents or grandparents, share a history with television. It has been their major source of content throughout their lives, and they might not want to relinquish the familiarity of TV. Older audiences often lack time and tenacity to binge watch shows and prefer the scheduled nature of television. Moreover, whether or not they can even enjoy the advantages of streaming services will depend on how comfortable they are using such platforms.

Because audiences have evolved, our cable TV channels now focus more on live coverages. Although specials are still common during festive occasions, they are plagued by repetitive commercials. Often times, such commercials span longer than a show's runtime.

Older audiences have always relied on TV for clean and engaging content reflective of our local lifestyle. But the quality of current family shows suffers due to recycled stories. Scriptwriters wield profanity as a comedic or emotional device and justify it as colloquialism of local dialects.

It's important to understand that not all Bangladeshi TV shows will appeal to older audiences like they do to us. After all, the older demographic of audience grew up accustomed to watching family-friendly shows which portrayed wholesome family dynamics. However, OTT platforms have opted to stray away from such traditional depictions. On the other hand, local TV channels are trying to catch up with OTT platforms. In the process, they have deviated away from producing what the older audience have grown up with.  

For instance, Punorjonmo is an intriguing series and aptly deserving of recognition. But I would surely hold off watching thrillers based on dark themes with my parents or the elderly.  

TV channels are hawking content that can recover viewership. As a result, every channel is airing a mixture of the same kinds of shows – political analysts heckling on live talk shows, boring rip-offs of Koffee with Karan, underwhelming infotainment and oversaturated news coverage.

Our reality shows are underfunded, under promoted and unoriginal. Instead of highlighting talents of contestants, they focus on celebrity judges and their antics.

We need local channels devoted to niche interests like food, nature, lifestyle, and film relevant to modern Bangladeshi culture to ensure content suited to tastes of aging audiences are produced.

Although replacing cable subscription with streaming video services can make it easier for elderly audiences to experience internet and TV together, it has its limitations and expenses. Moreover, it's still unfeasible in rural areas with dodgy internet.

There was a time when we could look forward to shows like Aaj Robibar, Rupnagar, 420, Kothao Keu Nei which depicted flawed human relationships through colourful and endearing characters, unique plots and subtle performances. The philosophy of those shows resonated with young and old audiences alike. While we can't expect modern shows to be cast in the same mould as these old, iconic ones, the lack of quality family content on TV is truly concerning.

Nuzha forgives people for pronouncing her name wrong and wallows in books and anxiety. Suggest her fiction at nuzhaoishee1256[email protected]