Advertisers take a reality check on viewership over KBC, Big Boss

Bigg Boss, in its eleventh season, managed to deliver a relatively tepid performance as against Sony Entertainment’s Kaun Banega Crorepati.
As the year draws to a close and advertisers reassess the impact of television vs digital and reality television vs fiction, the fate of two reality shows, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) that was in the top five most viewed programmes all through the months it aired, convinced many that reality shows had not lost their hold over the audience. However, the subsequent relatively tepid performance of Bigg Boss (eleventh season) thus far, is painting a different picture.

A month after Bigg Boss, one of the early stars on the Indian television reality firmament, went on air, the show is nowhere on the top five list of most viewed programmes. Despite an enviable launch and an increase in the numbers over the previous year, success at the top slot has eluded the show as per data provided by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). In this it presents a different picture of the power of reality programming from that of Sony Entertainment’s KBC.

Back after a three-year hiatus, KBC opened at the number two spot in urban markets according to BARC and then held on to one of the top five slots for the rest of the season. It also managed to enhance the brand value of Amitabh Bachchan, bringing him new endorsement deals, say experts.

Colors, the network that airs Khatron Ke Khiladi. It is almost 7 per cent higher than Season 10 launch episode viewership which was 5.9 million,” the spokesperson said. Chinese handset maker Oppo and FMCG major Parle Agro are returning sponsors for the show. Still Bigg Boss is not a patch on the advertising power of KBC. Can it get there?

One way to do that would be to change its format. KBC changed its look this season; it went on air for 30 episodes as against 54 in the previous season. Each episode was an hour-long instead of running on for an extra half hour as it did in 2014. Danish Khan, EVP and business head at SET had told Business Standard just before the launch of KBC: “This time, we are putting the focus on the hot seat. So in one episode, around an hour long, there will be around 10 questions asked. Last year, around 7 questions were asked over almost one and a half hours.” The prize money was also increased to Rs 7 crore from Rs 5 crore.

Network executives say the comparison is misleading. While KBC is a contest, the other is more of a social experiment in survival. Bigg Boss is not a game show in that it does not involve a question-answer format or episodic task-based format. Neither is it a performing talent show. “At 11 years and counting, the show is bound to show some levelling of the viewership graph. On the contrary, it is showing some growth. It’s a strong property,” says a media executive who has worked with advertisers investing in the show.

The spokesperson from Colors says that they have been innovative with the format. He said, “Last season, the show opened its doors to non-celebrity participants and we saw an overwhelming response. Previous season, the growth in viewership was towards the second half of the show.” According to Colors, the season 11 average viewership thus far (six weeks) is 41 per cent more than the previous years’ six-week performance (4.4 million vs 3.1 million). On weekday slots, the average viewership is 44 per cent more than that in the previous year (4 million vs 2.8 million). And over weekends, average viewership is 32 per cent more than the previous year (5.3 million vs 4 million). The channel said that the weekend episodes of Super Dance Chapter2 (4.8 million) and DID (3.4 million) as per BARC data for the urban market.

While many have suggested that the show take a break like some of the others have done, the channel has been skeptical saying that advertisers have been supportive. Before the launch of the show, Viacom18 COO Raj Nayak, who also leads Colors had said that nearly 70 per cent of the inventory for the show had been sold before the first episode was aired. In terms of rate appreciation too, he revealed that the impact of GST had been felt, but the situation was not dismal. He claimed that brands were willing to pay a premium of up to 12 per cent the previous year’s rates for the show. The true test however would be to keep advertisers and viewers coming back for more, more often.

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