Nine seasons on, KBC juggernaut rolls strong

What is it about Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) that it continues to attract viewers nine seasons after it was first launched? The show, which recently returned to television screens after a three-year hiatus, opened strongly and has sustained viewer interest since then.


Latest viewership data by the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) show that KBC has helped Sony Entertainment Television (SET), which telecasts the show at 9 pm on weekdays, move into the number one position in urban markets. While SET has been in the league of the top four Hindi general entertainment channels (others include Star, Zee and Colors) within urban markets for a while now, this is the first time in months it has claimed pole  position.


For week  40 (September 30-October 6),  KBC was the leading Hindi non-fiction show not only in urban markets, but also in the combined urban and rural Hindi-speaking markets. Both are key for advertisers.


Danish Khan, executive vice-president and business head, SET says, “We expected KBC to do well, but week 40 came as a surprise to us. The changes we made to the show’s format after our consumer research is paying off. The biggest positive has been the return of younger viewers.”


Source: BARC India
Even as KBC took a break from the small screen between 2014 and 2016, SET’s programming team was fine-tuning it. Research showed that while host Amitabh Bachchan continued to have universal appeal among TV viewers, younger audiences were switching off. Further probing revealed that younger viewers were not keen on lengthy back stories of participants or song and dance routines that had been introduced in the past seasons. It was the actual game itself, of being in the hot seat even as they reclined in the comfort of their drawing rooms that excited young people.


As a result, SET increased the number of questions asked during each episode from seven earlier to almost 10 now.


“Our decision to do away with film integrations in the ninth season has also helped retain audiences. We do have a special celebrity episode, but we’ve shifted our focus to the common man. So,  though  we have an Abhishek (Bachchan) or Shilpa Shetty on the show once in a while, we also have people from different walks of life who’ve made a difference in their own way,” he says.


The special episodes that Khan mentions have been reserved for Fridays, a time when viewers wish to unwind and  have fun. BARC data shows a distinct uptick in viewership on these days.


Another eyeball-grabber has been the Rs 1-crore questions. In week 40, for instance, there were two such spikes seen when contestants reached the Rs 1 crore-mark, one of them (Anamika Majumdar) going on to win the amount.


KBC’s success has not only benefited SET in terms of strengthening its position on the viewership charts, but has also meant return on investment for advertisers.


The show managed to lock in 10 sponsors in the ninth season, with some inventory (typically around 10 to 15 per cent) reserved for last-minute spot buys (one ad spot is ten seconds). Sponsors include Vivo, Reliance Jio, Datsun, Quick Heal, Axis Bank, Raymond, Big Bazaar, Hero Motocorp, Ching’s Secret and Aakash Institute.


Jerome Saigot, head, sales & marketing, Nissan Motors India, says, “Our association with KBC has been a tremendous success.Through Datsun’s special segment on KBC, we’ve reached a greater number of potential customers  .”


For  SET, KBC’s performance also means a premium on the remaining ad inventory. “The last-minute buys are more expensive than the sponsor buys (in terms of per-spot ad rates). But the success of KBC has meant SET can now expect more than what it did earlier from these transactions,” a media planner with a top ten agency says.


As per estimates, SET is looking at nothing less than Rs 400 crore in terms of advertising revenue from KBC with presenting sponsor Reliance Jio estimated to have coughed up Rs 100 crore this year, over three times more than the Rs 30 crore paid by Cadbury in 2014. Brands such as Vivo and Ching’s Secret, which are KBC’s “powered-by” sponsors have brought in Rs 50 crore each, according to industry estimates, while the rest have come in at Rs 15 crore each.


Besides, the show has also appealed to both genders equally, giving advertisers a healthy mix of male and female audiences on a mass platform like a Hindi general entertainment channel. 


In addition to its success on TV screens, KBC has been able to grab attention on mobile screens as well. The show is available on Sony LIV, the video-on-demand service of Sony Pictures Networks India, where it has roped in seven sponsors. This includes Reliance Jio, Droom, Patanjali, Datsun and Gujarat Tourism.


Jio is the presenting sponsor on Sony LIV as well, allowing viewers to be a part of the quiz show via the Jio chat app. The engagement has attracted 3.5 million participants daily.

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