After the huge success of the reality show Indian Idol on Sony Entertainment Television, Freemantle Media, which conceived the programme, is set to tap the huge potential of the Indian market for reality shows.
Freemantle Media will host The Apprentice, one of its most popular shows in India. "We are planning to introduce The Apprentice later this year. The show will be telecast on the Star network," says Gavin Wood, director of production, India Freemantle Media.
One of the most popular television reality series in the world today, The Apprentice will be conceived on the lines it is aired in different parts of the Asia, Europe and the United States.
"The television series will be based on real job interviews. The candidates will go through the toughest interviews they have ever faced. The Apprentice is a widely acclaimed programme in all the countries," adds Wood.
The Apprentice is one of the highest rated series in the US. In America, 16 candidates were selected from over 200,000 applicants and divided into a team of men and women, and given several business tasks. The candidates also had to face a gruelling interview with Donald Trump, American business tycoon, for a position in one of his companies for a year.
FreemantleMedia and Mark Burnett Productions have joined hands to air the popular series in other parts of the world.
"India has a huge market for format programmes. Indian Idol has been a huge hit and has been the most talked about television show in India. The best thing about format shows is that they are very interactive and the viewer plays a very active role. Indian Idol was a massive undertaking that paid off. In the last episode, we had 35 million people voting for their favourites," says Wood.
"Reality shows have become a huge hit as people identify themselves with the characters on the show and ensure that people get what they want. Emotions play a huge role in such programmes," says Wood.
"It was amazing that we received 9 million votes in just two hours. It had got the whole of India hooked. We had people talking about Indian Idol in hotels, trains. . . everywhere we went," says Wood.
"The Apprentice will also be a big budget programme, more on an intellectual level. Every genre has a cycle. Dramas and soaps have a cycle too, if the content is good, it is bound to succeed. It all depends on what the viewers actually want," Wood says.
Freemantle Media's India office, which currently has 11 people as the core team, will be expanded with the team strength going up to 100 by the year-end. All the employees will be Indian as only the local people are aware of what would be ideal for the India.
"India is a land of great creativity, talent and passion. The spark among the people is truly amazing," says Wood.
"Although the television Industry in India is young, it is very professional and has high quality standards which is lacking in many other countries where the industry is much older than in India. The television sector with its wide reach will be a major driver of growth in the entertainment sector," Wood explains.
Calling Indian market 'vibrant,' Wood says he is confident that Freemantle Media will also be able to cater to the international market by producing programmes in India in future.
"There may have been several programmes that were huge hits in India at some point in time and have been forgotten. We can retrieve those programmes and give them a new dimension. There can certainly be a reverse trend of Indian formatted programmes going global as well," says Wood.
Freemantle Media also plans to tie up with local production houses to develop programmes in India.
FreemantleMedia, the content business production arm of the RTL Group, Europe's largest television and radio broadcast company, has completed 260 programmes in 39 countries so far.
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