‘Kaun Banega Crorepati,’ the show that unanimously changed the face of television in India, is all set for round two and this time the game is on STAR weekends. Slated for a release in the first week of August 2005, ‘KBC 2’ will take the 9.00 pm slot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on STAR Plus. Coupling this with blockbuster movies is the route that channel intends to take to stabilise the weekend audience.
“A comment we often heard was that channels don’t do enough compelling programming on weekends,” said Sameer Nair, COO, STAR India, “And we have been looking at expanding our weekend content for some time now. When KBC was brought the first time, it was a well-thought out programming strategy that was executed well and delivered. We are very confident of the product and it makes sense for us to place it on the weekends.”
He said that the channel is in the process of acquiring weekend movies. These would be played following KBC 2, with the intention of not giving the audience a chance to look beyond STAR Plus.
A point worth looking however is that KBC makes a return after almost four years. The dynamics of Indian television have changed substantially since then. Unlike its last run, this time ‘KBC 2’ would be competing against cricketing properties like the India - Sri Lanka series in the November-December period on Ten Sports. Also, the India Tour of Pakistan is advanced to be in the January 2006 period. Not to mention, Indian Idol 2 would be back towards the end of the year.
“These kinds of things happen all the time. I don’t see them affecting ‘KBC 2’. And life has changed on other fronts as well,” explained Nair, “The state of technology has improved. It has allowed us to make the show that much more interesting and interactive. Also, the Indian C&S audience have grown a hundred per cent now. There is quite a lot that can be done.”
‘KBC 2’ would be the most advanced version of the format. The channel has introduced various changes in the show. One such change is where the audience plays along. The feature allows the channel to give the viewer a chance to win in every episode. Not to mention, the increase in the price money to Rs 2 crore, this time.
The media fraternity, though has different views on the show itself, is evidently very excited. Said Shashi Sinha, President, Lodestar Media, “This is a landmark property. Any new, big, expensive property is always compared to KBC in terms of performance and the difference that KBC made to STAR. It has set a certain standard in the industry and there are expectations of a similar nature from the show now.”
“One must not forget that Amitabh Bachchan was not as popular as he is now when he first did KBC,” added Ravi Kiran, MD, Starcom (West), “KBC gave him the popularity then and now the show can encash on his present status. The scenes are very different now and may be the show can’t cross the kind of highs it did in its first run but I don’t think that is the parameter of success in any case. Such shows have a way of changing audience behaviour. I think not only will the show attain this for the channel but it will also deliver on today’s standards.”
“It can draw larger gains,” observed Sinha, “Weekdays have found a stabilisation and a loyal audience base with KBC and the properties that were built on its back. If the same happens to weekends, television on the whole would benefit.”
One point, however, that both industry leaders bring out is that KBC 2 would be faced with too many options. “As a result, the channel might not be able to bring in the kind of revolutionary pricing that it did four years back,” said Ravi Kiran.
The channel however is clear on that count as well. “Choices are a fact of life. Ad revenues are a function of audience interest level, performance and then the availability of slots on the show. This was the case then and will be case now as well,” said Nair. “KBC is a remarkably successful show and will be a breakthrough on weekends as well.”
The channel has organised sales upfront for the show for select clients in Mumbai and Delhi to be held on March 29 and 30 respectively. It’s not long before we know whether KBC does to STAR weekends, what it did to its weekdays - a question that many in the industry are watching out for.