When it comes to programming on Indian television, it appears that what one does, others follow suit. Whether it was game shows, daily soaps or the current phenomenon of talent hunts, all channels from STAR to Sahara seem to head in the same direction. When all channels have taken such fascination to this format, the question is, ‘Is it viable to have almost five talent shows running simultaneously on Indian television?’
To get an idea of the amount of talent hunting, Sahara and Percept joined hands for Mr and Miss Bollywood. STAR India announced Indian Superstar and Zee TV’s promotion for India’s Best is already on. MTV too announced its venture with Balaji for a talent hunt for their soap. While these hunts are for actors for the big screen and small, more on the music side, Sony TV will soon come up with Pop Idols later in the year and ETC has also announced a Punjabi talent hunt.
Dwelling on the various reasons why it makes sense for channels to look at a talent show format, PRP Nair, Senior Vice President, Media Direction, RK Swami/BBDO, says: “One way to look at it is that these channels will get their own talent pool, which as you know, can be an issue of concern.”
Looking at the scene in totality, both Sahara and Zee are into movie production and while STAR has announced that it will produce a movie resulting out of this hunt, it has also made clear that another consequence would be their own talent pool for television properties.
Nair explains more on this, saying: “One definite outcome in this would be exclusivity of these stars. So you will get to see them only on a particular channel. The second thing is that it will also prove to be more cost effective to employ these people.”
“This is just another way to generate revenue. While talent hunts requires significant investments but does not require a sustained one as in the case of serials,” adds C R Mallikarjundas, Media Director, Starcom, “The commitment window is small here,” he adds.
“A talent hunt also means a very interesting TV property,” quips Sameer Nair, COO, STAR India, “We have been doing it for two years now in pop stars and we thought it is a good thing to do.”
While one agrees on all these counts, almost five talent hunts, which are similar in nature, appear to be more of a clutter rather than a clutter-breaker. In that context, can the decision prove to be an expensive one for broadcasters? “It all depends on the marketing,” expresses PRP Nair, “They have to create hype and buzz around their activities for it to be noticed at all and take the show forward from there.”
Speaking more from the advertiser’s point of view, Mallikarjundas remarks: “These properties would be good only in terms of sponsorship. That is where the value for money will lie when it comes to advertisers. In terms of spot buys, I would still rather put my money on serials that would give me adequate TRPs.”
Are the channels worried? Satish Menon, President, Marketing and Sales, Sahara Manoranjan responds: “We have no reasons to be worried. We are already done with round one and well on our way to the next. We have stolen a march over the others and if there is a reason for anyone to be concerned, it is not us.”
“Since everyone is hunting in a similar manner, we will have to do it differently,” states Sameer Nair. “The scenario is indeed cluttered up and we will have to do something about it,” he adds. Just to look at the current status, Sahara’s Mr… is already finished with its first round, while Zee’s India’s best has begun with on-air promotions. STAR on the other hand has not taken the activity further at all.