Some of the country’s biggest stars have been crowding the small screen this festive season. While Amitabh Bachchan has been back with KBC, Shah Rukh Khan and the stellar cast of Happy New Year has been on Zee TV for Dil Se Naachein Indiawaale while Akshay Kumar is on Life OK as the host of Dare2Dance. Salman Khan has been on Colors for Bigg Boss’s latest season while Honey Singh has been on SET for India’s RAW star even as Aamir Khan makes a comeback on his top-rated show Satyamev Jayate. But while the A-listers continue to serenade the television audience, the question arises, is it a win-win situation for everyone?
Are celebrities on TV shows a gamble?
Fact is, celebrity-driven shows have not lived up to their hype in recent times. In one of our recent articles we took a closer look at how stars on TV are failing to keep up the momentum for their shows despite a fabulous start (Hindi reality shows run out of steam after flying start).
One of the highest rated celebrity shows – Bigg Boss - saw its ratings tumble in week 40 and recover a little in week 41, while Dil Se Naachein Indiawaale on its first week performed reasonably well with a 4.7 TVTs in week 41. It remains to be seen whether it will continue on the high note.
In a previous article on exchange4media we had examined the hefty price tags that Bollywood celebrities command for hosting television shows (Brand Bollywood on TV: Does investing in celebrity-driven shows make business sense?). Some of those tags have reportedly been revised. For instance Salman Khan’s charges for Bigg Boss Season 8 have apparently been increased to Rs.5-6 crore per week, according to media reports.
Despite the volatile scenario, channels continue to rope in celebrities. According to Mayank Shah, Dy. Marketing Manager, Parle Products, channels rope in stars simply to generate initial buzz. “But that is not a sure shot recipe for success because if the content is not good, no amount of hype will hold it up.”
Getting a celebrity host or guest pushes up production costs as well. According to Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head, Media at Philips India, the initial expenses of roping in a celebrity may be too high to sustain the ratings generated by the presence of multiple stars for the initial episodes. “For the opening, your ratings could be 3.5 or 4. But will you be able to sustain this over a period of time? A big-bang start to a series is always good, but to keep up the momentum would mean incurring considerable costs.”
Dinesh Vyas, GM, India, MEC feels that it is definitely a gamble that TV channels are taking by getting celebrities. “Tomorrow if you see Farah Khan or Akshay Kumar and all these celebrities on the channel, you would want to give it a shot. A celebrity clears that initial hurdle for the channel. But after that, it is over to the content.”
But is initial hype a good enough incentive for channels to bet big on star power?
Even if the channels fail to back up star power with solid content, the celebrity buzz is strong enough to draw advertisers. For instance, Dil Se Naachein Indiawaale already has title sponsor Maruti Suzuki Alto K10, two co-sponsors Askmebazaar.com and L’Oreal Paris Fall Repair 3X and associate sponsors Zydus Cadilla, Nerolac, Liberty Shoes and Vicco. Similarly, Bigg Boss Season 8 attracted brands such as Snapdeal as the presenting sponsor, powered by Oppo Mobiles and associate sponsors Maruti Suzuki, TVS Motors, J K Tyre, Cardekho.com, Bisleri Urzza and Garnier Men. This show has had a good amount of success in the previous season. Celebrity buzz has also been used to promote sports properties such as the Pro Kabaddi League and is being used in the same way for ISL. Some brands might also come on board as a result of their association with the particular celebrity as their brand ambassador.
Commenting on their newly launched show Dil Se Naachein Indiawaale, Ashish Seghal, Chief Sales Officer, ZEEL said, “We have already sold out on the show. There is one title and two powered by sponsors and almost five odd associate sponsors and our inventory on the show is sold out for the next 10 weeks.”
On the other hand, there are others who say that it is the celebrities who are using the channels to reach out to their audiences. “They have realised that the best way to connect with their audiences is by appearing on television. Because the movies have become just a weekend affair. So it is a case of celebrities using the channel more than the channels using the celebrities,” says Anisha Motwani, Director, Chief Marketing & Digital Officer, Max Life Insurance.
Buzz and brands make it in the end a win-win proposition for channels, who are betting big on celebrities even if they don’t get much eye balls. It definitely adds more in building the brand name of the channel with the publicity it receives.