Judgey Audiences in India Finally Getting a 24-Hour Wedding Channel


India will soon get to revel in all the armchair flower-arrangement and venue criticism that comes with having a 24-hour wedding channel thanks to Shagun TV, which is looking to capitalize on the wedding industry’s vise grip on popular Indian sentiment.

The wedding industrial complex in India is just a touch smaller than it is in the U.S., generating about $38 billion annually. According to the AP, wedding season in India is almost a national pastime, or enough of an all-consuming consumption fest to alert television execs of a largely untapped entertainment market. And Shagun TV won’t just dabble in the sorts of dress-choosing, bride-judging, schadenfreude-inducing “reality” shows WE and TLC specialize in; there will also be scripted programming. Shagun will include wedding soap operas, wedding travel shows (featuring photogenic honeymoon destinations), bridal makeovers, and — because apparently no one is capable of discussing the ancient land exchange ritual known as matrimony without somehow focusing on the “womenz be wedding crazzzzy” theme — a show entirely devoted solely to cringe-worthy interactions between mothers and daughters-in-law.

If this seems like a lot of wedding hubbub, well, it is, BUT there’s a big market for weddings in India, so…

Media analysts say the channel is the first in India offering round-the-clock wedding entertainment. It looks to cash in on a big fat Indian wedding market valued at an estimated $38 billion a year and expected to grow 25 to 30 percent annually, according to Alex Kuruvilla, the managing director of Conde Nast India, which publishes a string of luxury magazines.
The Indian wedding season, which starts in October and lasts until spring, can at times seem like a bridal invasion. Traffic grinds to a halt in major cities on wedding dates thought to be astrologically auspicious. On particularly lucky days, newspapers reported up to 60,000 couples tying the knot in New Delhi alone.

Shagun says it wants to give middle-class Indian couples a platform on which they can suffer under the scrutinizing eyes of their fellow citizens, but some critics have contended that, with more than 700 channels of programming on Indian TV, nobody wants to watch a bunch of anonymous normals feed each other sheet cake and blow their entire wedding budget on a semi-famous wedding photographer and tacky centerpieces.

Indian TV channel seeks success with weddings [AP via Yahoo]

Image via AP, Manish Swarup

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