In 10 years, we've produced more original content than anybody has in factual entertainment: Network18's Avinash Kaul

The show is set to premiere on 26 January.

Mumbai: OMG! Yeh mera India. It is a show with a difference, offering a kaleidoscopic view of the brightest minds and exceptional individuals in pursuit of their boldest dreams and unusual talents. It is a flagship local production and one of India's longest-running factual entertainment series.

The show is in its ninth season and is premiering on the occasion of India’s 74th Republic Day. This season promises to inspire a sense of wonder, appreciation, and celebration among viewers, leaving some surprised and others beaming with pride.

The show is hosted by popular television star Krushna Abhishek, and it features 40 exclusive stories from across the country, airing over ten weekly episodes. India, through its history, has been a melting pot, rich in influences, cultures, and ideas from all over the world. In its episodes, the show presents the great diversity of the country.

The event was held at India's foremost special needs education NGO, ADAPT, which came together for a day of positivity and inclusivity to celebrate the 50-year legacy of the institution, dedicated to specially-abled children. The event was conducted on the sidelines of the channel’s flagship show, OMG! Yeh Mera India. The event echoed the channel’s ethos of shining a light on ordinary Indians doing extraordinary things, often against great odds. It was a fitting tribute to the efforts of ADAPT, a non-profit organisation that has been making a difference in the lives of specially-abled children and youth since its inception.

AETN18 MD and Network18 CEO (broadcast) Avinash Kaul spoke with about the show and the thinking behind mounting it.

Edited Excerpt:

On OMG! as a concept

The thought is very simple: a country as huge as India doesn’t happen by somebody’s design; it’s by regular Indians going beyond the regular and trying to do something new. While a few of them do get acknowledged thanks to the support of celebrities, a large multitude of people do not. This made me wonder: if the entire world came to a halt and aliens descended to figure out the state of society at this point in time, and all they had were showreels of what was going on in India, would they think we were in an era of Saas-Bahu, or would they wonder if Naagin was still alive?

Did we achieve nothing? Did we do something spectacular? Did we think historically? So what we wanted to do was pick up these messages of inspiration and bottle them up in a structural format. While we had the choice of making very boring documentary-style news, what we chose was a mass entertainment star like Krushna Abhishek to pass on the message in a humorous fashion because content packaged in a humorous fashion touches people’s hearts far more.

We can have plain old documentary-style coverage on the same person who is in the Guinness Book of World Records. But using an entertaining theme to portray factual stories is why OMG! Yeh Mera India has 10 billion impressions and two billion views in the 320 stories we have done in eight odd seasons. The show has no set end date; you can go back in time and discover how Aryabhatta discovered xyz and all of those magical moments. We may not have captured them at that time, but we can capture what’s happening at today’s date and time. If we continue doing this and look at it 70 years later, it will be something to treasure and discover what Indians were like in India. This is what we would like to be known for, not necessarily obsessively watching shallow reality shows.

On the USP of OMG and what makes it standout in all the clutter

I was telling this to Abhishek a couple of days ago: "The best thing reality shows have brought to India is to bring the singing and dancing to the floor. I mean, it’s magical, the transformation that so many people have found—so many careers out of singing, dancing, and also comedy. But where would you fit the kind of thing we cover? Where would Kamal Nayak and his Guinness Book of World Records fit in? It doesn’t fit well on an entertainment channel. It is just raw emotion. No motivational words were used; it’s just the story of the person, and that is the difference here.

We are not trying to extract the emotional quotient from these stories. While it’s an entertainment channel, all we do is state the facts as they are and what they have achieved with their hard work. It’s not a sob story that "Main kahan se aya kya kia kya socha," it’s "Main aaj yahan hu aur yeh meri kahani hai."

On the channel’s performance

The channel is a close number to discovery. We’ve been in the country for probably 10 years. It’s been a long journey with our competitors, but the good news is we’ve produced more original content than anybody has in factual entertainment. We’re proud of all that we’ve done here, and our digital numbers are strong as well.

On the expectations for this season

There are no new expectations. What we do is take up things per season, so in the past seasons, we’ve covered themes and environment; we have also taken on disability in some zones. We take on diverse contemporary themes so we can put the spotlight on those themes at that point in time. Take, for instance, the story of Kamal during covid. How did you deal with it? As many people were dealing with mental illnesses, he said, "For me, I had to do it and prove it; for me, it was the golden period as the roads were empty so I could train on the roads," and that's when I realised this story could inspire many people.

So even if we inspire 500 people, we are making a change. So in season nine, you have another 40 stories getting added to those 320 stories. Each one of them can inspire a new set of people. By the time we are at 15 seasons, we will probably have touched every Indian! It gives us so much happiness to see the impact we’re making in the lives of so many people. Seeing the smiles of so many people and their happiness, I’m almost in tears.

On thinking outside the box to reach your target audience

Season nine has a particular audience; people always look forward to the new season, and it goes viral. I’ve seen a whole lot of clips getting shared, which is what gives you the 10 billion expressions. That cannot happen if people do not share the content. Now we’re also looking at dubbing OMG! into international languages to ensure a wider reach and inspire people around the world. These stories will all have their time and language proofs so they can travel the world. This is our endeavor: reaching more and more people around the world, not just in India.

On connected TV and how is it disrupting linear TV

At our core, we remain storytellers, and we tell our stories mostly in video format. It doesn’t matter in what format people consume our content. What matters is that they watch. The challenge is on the business front, whether that watching is being monetised or not, so when consumers reach a specific time, marketers are smart and savvy enough to follow, so it just needs to reach a tipping point, but the stories don’t stop. Video content is getting consumed, and as long as video content is getting consumed, I guess all of us are safe; it really doesn’t matter whether it’s on an OTT platform, YouTube, etc.

On advertisers' response to a show like OMG

We’ve always had an attractive and inspirational set of advertisers; this time we have Havells as a partner, OLXAuto, and Hyundai. This is a show with a varied and discerning audience, so brands like these always find attraction in a show like this. I’ve never seen an advertiser partner with something so good, and we like to believe that the power of good still exists; I just wish we could produce more and more such stories as we already have such an engaged audience.

Latest Reads
Colors’ ‘Bigg Boss’ and Garnier Men create history with stronger than ever 12 years association

Mumbai: India’s reality show Bigg Boss has come a long way in its 15 years journey in the television entertainment landscape. The show has been instrumental in providing an unprecedented dose of glamour by entertaining the audience with its engaging content and adding grand new elements year on...

Television TV Channels GECs
Sun TV Network records Rs 858 crore revenue for Q3FY23

Mumbai : Sun TV Network Limited, one of the television roadcasters in India has released financial result for Q3Fy23. Sun Tv’s revenues (excluding IPL and Movies) were Rs8 10.51 crore for the quarter ended 31 December 2022, compared to Rs 829.57 crore for the corresponding quarter ended 31 December...

Television TV Channels Viewership
News18 India launches original web series ‘FIR No. 208’

Mumbai: In a first for an Indian news channel, News18 India has announced the launch of its original web series, FIR No. 208, which premieres on 3 February. Conceptualised and hosted by News18 India’s managing editor Kishore Ajwani, FIR No. 208 showcases the web of deceit spun by Sukesh...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Bharat Express appoints Rakesh Gopal as chief revenue officer

Bharat Express has kept the media fraternity abuzz with a slew of senior level appointments. The channel has further consolidated its sales team across India and announced the appointment of Rakesh Gopal as its chief revenue officer along with several senior level appointments across key markets.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
India Today Group’s MP Tak launches its own website

Mumbai: India Today Group’s digital-first channel, MP Tak, has further expanded its online-presence with a newly launched website– inaugurated by the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. 

Television TV Channels Viewership
Aaj Tak crosses the 50 mn subscribers mark on YouTube; Susan Wojcicki offers congratulatory wishes

Mumbai: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki did not hold back while tweeting in praise of Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak, for crossing 50 million subscribers on the video-sharing platform. She put it across as an ‘incredible milestone’ for the channel and its team. Her tweet read, “50M subscribers - what an...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
SPNI bags exclusive broadcast rights for the Davis Cup for two years

Mumbai: Sony Pictures Networks India has acquired the exclusive media rights to broadcast the Davis Cup in India for two years, between 2023 and 2024. The deal was facilitated by Sportfive. Following the television and digital rights deal, the broadcaster will televise the Davis Cup on its sports...

Television TV Channels Sports
CNN News18 continues its dominance in English news genre with 43.1% market share

Mumbai: As per the latest data released by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc), CNN–News18 has again topped the English news genre with 43.1 per cent market share in India’s TG 2+ segment. As per the data, the channel is 146 per cent ahead of Times Now and its market share is larger than...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
IPL allows JioCinema to offer premium long-form content viewing: Viacom18 CEO Sports Anil Jayaraj

Mumbai: Earlier this year Viacom18 stunned people when it announced that JioCinema would air the IPL for free. Speaking at a media roundtable Viacom18 CEO Sports Anil Jayaraj said that the 20-20 league offers the opportunity to provide high-quality premium long-form content. There will be 16 feeds...

Television TV Channels Viewership