KBC Season 10: Sony gets 8 sponsors, looks for ways to hook millennials

Amitabh Bachchan (right) will host 60 episodes of the show this season and he has been actively promoting it on Twitter
Starting September 3, one of the country’s longest running reality shows, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), will be back. Amitabh Bachchan will once again anchor the show, charging an undisclosed sum that industry sources said could be a significant increase over his previous remunerations. But this time around, Bachchan is not the only star on the KBC firmament; technology is expected to play a big role in keeping audiences hooked to the show for the entire season.

Augmented reality is being used on the KBC sets in its tenth season to ensure a more immersive experience for participants and audiences. And also to keep the show relevant for millennial viewers. This is necessary, point out industry sources, because young viewers are less likely to stay glued to television screens for the duration of an hour or more that the KBC is programmed for. Sony Pictures Network is keen to grab the attention of young viewers and with a tech makeover, it hopes to keep KBC’s TRP meter ticking. 

So far the response to KBC Season 10 has been encouraging, according to SPN. Within a fortnight of the lines being opened up, over 31 million people have registered as participants. The show has eight brands on board; it is co-powered by Vivo V11 Pro and Mahindra Marazzo while Aakash Institute, Axis Bank, Asian Paints, CEAT, Raymond and Syska Wires & Cables are associate sponsors. However unlike the previous year, Reliance Jio is not among the main list of sponsors this year.

 “We treat every season of KBC as a launch season and so we’re always wondering what new features can be introduced. This time, we decided to experiment with technology. The AR addition will bring a visual novelty on the show, and a layer of interactivity that wasn’t there earlier. We’ve tried to keep the warmth (of interaction between Bachchan and the contestants) intact though, and only enhanced the experience of the show,” says Danish Khan, EVP and business head, Sony Entertainment Television at Sony Pictures Network.

Apart from the technology that adds a surprise element to the show, the format of KBC remains unchanged. Instead of looking into a laptop screen Bachchan and the contestants will, one expects, be suitably geared up to function in a more interactive environment. All of this is targeted at audiences who have come to expect a high degree of engagement and immersion from their screens, especially in the games they play. 

The seeds for technological overhaul were perhaps sown last year, when KBC made its way back after a three-year hiatus. While the show was on a break, the SET team had conducted market surveys that showed that while Bachchan continued to have universal appeal among TV viewers, younger audiences seemed wary of the content. Further probing revealed that these viewers were not really interested in the trappings around the show (lengthy back stories of participants, song and dance etc), but in the game itself. As a result, the channel increased the number of questions asked during one episode from around seven previously  to almost 12-15. 
In keeping with the research findings, the new technology is being used to enhance the experience of the game. But the show has not given up entirely on feel-good stories that are meant to inspire audiences. Every Friday, the show will host ‘KBC Karamveer’ (heroes) that features “individuals whose heroic actions and good deeds have brought about a positive change in the society thereby becoming an inspiration for many,” the network said.

The segment was introduced last year. “We saw that these episodes were very well received,” Khan says. There was a spike in viewership during the Friday episodes, the network had noted last year.

The campaign around the start of the new show also emphasises on the inspirational everyday stories that are part of the show’s programming. Called #KabTakRokoge (How long can you hold us back), SPN says that it is meant to celebrate the spirit of resilience in people. The idea is to create an emotional connection for the show that is, at its core, a test of general knowledge and awareness about current affairs.  

 The ‘play along’ feature introduced last year has also been brought back. However, instead of Reliance Jio, this year, viewers can play along with the contestants on screen on SPN’s OTT platform Sony Liv. “Last year, the play along feature resulted in close to 40 million downloads for Jio. We realised it is a very compelling feature and feel it is a good way to push our own OTT product as well,” Khan says. 

Despite being around for 18 years, (the first episode of the show aired in 2000), the show continues to attract sponsors. Experts believe that it is a combination of the show’s format and host. Khan agrees that the show’s format puts knowledge in the front seat, which is a great equaliser in a heterogeneous country like India, and the charm of Bachchan helps attract audiences as well.
The KBC files
  • An adaptation of Who wants to be a millionaire, Kaun Banega Crorepati first  aired in 2000 on Star Plus
  • Amitabh Bachchan anchored the first show and has helmed it for 9 out of the 10 seasons so far
  • Shah Rukh Khan replaced Bachchan for one season, Season 3 in 2007
  • Sony Pictures Network acquired the property in 2008 and KBC has been on its platform ever since
  • KBC had a three-year break from 2013. It resumed last year and according to the viewership data by the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC India), it pushed 
  • Sony up the popularity charts in urban and rural markets