With the launch of Best of KBC, it's relaunch has become a much-talked about subject in the media circuit. Star, obviously, would leave no stone unturned to make its most expensive programme - the most popular one on the telly once again.
The Best of Kaun Banega Crorepati is just a warm up exercise prior to launching the new episodes of the programme. Come January 2003, new episodes of KBC are likely to be on air. Tarun Katial, VP, Programming, STAR Plus said, "Yes, we are working on the new season and details are being worked on." If the industry rumours are to be believed, the prize has been hiked to Rs 2 crore with a whole lot of other prizes, and winning through SMS thrown in.
The first episode, which had Shah Rukh Khan, "received a rating of 5.5", according to the channel. Which, says Katiyal, is "better than the top rated shows on other channels. This in spite of no contribution form Kanpur accross channels."
Does it mean that KBC has already succeeded in making a dent in the programmes being aired in the similar slot on other leading channels? Analyses Ravi Kiran of Starcom, "KBC opened at a modest rating of around 4.6. It got viewed by 13.7% of the all India audience, which is about 20% higher than latest equilibrium reach [LER] of Kya Masti Kya Dhuum and 16% higher than the previous week's episode. This is not insignificant considering that the base of Star Plus is already high and the programme was taking on reasonably high profile programmes like Jeena Isi Ka Naam hai of Zee."
Adds Kiran, "Interestingly, but not surprisingly, KBC re-run is more gender biased in favour of women as opposed to the original, which had a gender-balanced viewership. This was to be expected since Star Plus, true to its nature, is a women's channel now."
While Best of KBC has opened with reasonably high ratings, will the original episodes in January be able to it be able to match the last years benchmarks?
Says Hiren Pandit, General Manager, Mindshare, Mumbai, "In the game show genre it will be hard to beat. It will not get to the high TRP that it once got, but I see it as one of the top viewed programmes on air when the new set comes on". And according to Ravi Kiran, "We do not believe even Star sees the role of a re-run KBC as a TRP leader. That would be preposterous."
Surely the new shows of KBC will be an expensive property with Amitabh Bacchan, Mega Sets and Grand Prizes galore. How will Star price this premium advertising option. Will it be value for money? According to Pandit, "I guess a lot will depend on the pricing. The first time around, I do not think anybody expected it to hit such high TRPs, not even Star. This time Star would take this on board the ratings while working out the ad pricing. The overall spend on Star will determine the price and the value for money equation on KBC". And according to Ravi Kiran, "At current rates KBC re-run is not the best option. However, we believe that having brought it in at a time Kya Masti Kya Dhuum was getting jaded, Star will try to spruce KBC up, and once it reaches a 5.5+ rating, KBC would start making sense".
One way of generating high audience numbers again will be to add some freshness to the programme. While Star is unlikely to alter this winning formula, it will do well to infuse freshness.
With some time to go, and Zee and Sony tweaking their programming feverishly, how much viewership will KBC 'new season' generate is a 'ek crore ka sawaal' or is it 'do crore ka!'
As Pandit puts it, "The new show is expected to start sometime in January of 2002. We would be able to predict the viewership closer to the actual date of the new episodes".