Top Singer: A TV Show that knows its audience

Top Singer is a Television Programme that airs on FlowersTV everyday at 8:00PM everyday. You can find episodes for show on Youtube. The show has gone already gone past 150 episodes and has been on the top for night entertainment among Malayalees all over the world.

Malayalam television prime time is very notoriously dominated by soap operas for a long time. These are what captivated the women of the household who were also identified as the prime audience at this time for all of the weekdays. These shows did (and still do) feature women in title roles and discuss stories revolving around them in 1000s of episodes. 2006 bought in a new competitor for the soap operas: Reality TV in the name of Asianet Idea Star Singer.

Idea Star Singer remained on the top for ratings for many of it’s recurring seasons before it fizzled out with the rest. It was aptly followed up with more versatile shows like D4Dance and Big Boss and each variation has had it’s time on hit charts. But each time it was a new variation of the old trope that managed to win hearts over. Now, the current winner seems to be Top Singer. What are they doing right?

Familiarity

Top Singer stars to roster of experienced judges, and they are not just experienced musicians, they are veterans of reality shows too. M.G Sreekumar and M. Jayachandran are part of the same roster that bought the phenomenon of TV shows alive with Star Singer. Sithara Krishnakumar who seems the youngest has her past rooted with reality show wins as a contestant in the start of her career and has held permanent and guest judge positions to quite a few modern iterations of the show. They know how this phenomenon works and needs no introduction to the tropes necessary.

Those who are following Top Singer from it’s start might remember many of their celebrity judges who held the fourth position in the judges panel. As the show has progressed this has withered and there are mostly just the three people in the judges panel. As the show has progressed from it’s first few episodes there are fewer and fewer surprises, it’s just the same people from the anchor who gives a subdued performance to the hyper judges.

The show format is more or less a stable tale in itself, it hardly features any elimination cliches like other shows. The performances, marks or grades does not seem like they lead anywhere. Unlike other shows that are actively pursuing a path to the finale, Top Singer just seems like it is making a stage for children to sing.

It does not matter if you miss an episode or two, Top Singer is going to be the same for more of the audience, day in day out and it stays there for each and everyday of the week.

Audience

Top Singer has made itself home to an audience that they play toward. It airs at 8:00 PM everyday which also comes across as dinner time for most families. It is a known fact that most of the nuclear families of Kerala have dinner with the television rather than facing each other on a dinner table. This timing also helps them avoid the 9:00PM point in Malayalam television where all news channels air their main news bullets for the day. Top Singer has made itself the best dish to serve for family.

To understand how this works, we have to look at a very specific target segment that Top Singer is aiming toward. It is time for family dinner and everyone sits around the television. Who would be handling the remote in such a situation? The parents, of course. The kids would just watch YouTube or NetFlix if it comes to them anyway. So the person who is holding the remote might be 35–60 years old and that also serves as the target segment. To see an example of how the show caters to this audience, just look at the song that the kids sing. This is a very young show, with the contestants ranging from 6–15. However there are hardly any songs in the show that are their age. Rather than Tamil Blockbusters, Hindi hits, every round feature old Malayalam movie songs that are from 80s-90s era. You should know this setup when every kid is singing a 90s party hit for favourites round.

You might know the show is not all about the songs anyway. The other half is just the judges talking to the kids and them responding. This is just them appealing to all the segments at the same time. Who doesn’t like smart ass kids on television!

Scoring

This one adds to the first point in familiarity. Instead of dealing with marks all over the episode, each candidate is given a grade based on the performance. The grading which was much more strict in the first round of Top Singer soon progressed to the top segment on it’s own and has stayed there. Nobody gets the B grade anymore, you would have to catch whole episodes to see someone get the A grade. Almost all of the candidates have grown to getting the grades with a word suffixed to A. This seems like a conscious decision from the production team to hold the stability fort.

These grades are just a stand in for the marks that the judges uses for calculations for levels. The grades are what you hear all over the round, but that does not mean it is in anyway meaningful for the round. But Top Singer might be the only show where the grades are not indicative of the actual comparison between candidates. The judges do make it overly clear that they are not comparing any of the performances to each other when they are giving grades. How do you compare a 6 year olds performance to a 15 year olds’ anyway? The grades are indicative of their age and improvements they have made over their prior performances. While this seems unfair to the ones who have put in effort, this adds to the shows stability and might not be going away anytime soon.

The marks might be otherwise, pitting the performances against each other. While the show is past 150 episodes, it is only approaching the end of second round, so it is hard to tell at this point.

The show is about to get some competition with some other familiar show juggernauts are preparing for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa helmed by Sujata Mohan, Shaan Rahman and Gopi Sundar. Looking forward to this competition play out for more television drama fun 😂

What do you guys enjoy about the show?

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