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Indian Idol is set to return, but can it retain its earlier popularity?

08-September-2005
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Indian Idol is set to return, but can it retain its earlier popularity?

‘Indian Idol’, the property that put reality TV on the viewership map, is slated to return on the small screens. The tentative launch date is planned for mid-November, 2005. Even though Sony has not crystallised other details around the show yet, the industry is already looking forward to ‘Indian Idol 2’.

The plan of action is a stronger one this season. Idol will do a 13-city round, unlike the nine cities it did last time. The property has roped in six sponsors – AirTel, Marico and Nokia have returned along with Pepsi that had come in at a later stage last year. Maruti and Asian Paints have also come on board this season.

Even though expectations are high, the tinge of caution is also there. Sandip Tarkas, CEO, Media Directions, said, “Going by international performances, the show should do well. In other markets, it has done better in the later seasons and so the same could be expected in India as well.”

Agreeing with him, Hiren Pandit, GM, MindShare, said, “It has do very well, but quite a lot depends on the hype that the channel will create around the show. That was one of the reasons of the success in the first season – the sheer talking point that the show had turned into. Sony will have to do the same again and perhaps a little differently as the novelty value is not there.”

He pointed out that Sony would have to present the show itself in an evolved format to receive the kind of attention it did in the last season. A popular point of view in the industry has been that following ‘Fame Gurukul’ so closely, too, could be a problem for Idol.

“In the international markets, you have seen the two shows competing with each other,” informed Tarkas, “But in India, that wasn’t the case – Sony cornered both these properties. Despite the differences in the two shows, the viewers really aren’t getting something differentiated in Idol now, as they had when it first came in.”

He also brought in the example of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee, saying that too many musical hunts were available on television now. “This can lead to staleness. Sony would have factored that but how they plan to make ‘Idol 2’ different is what defines the success of this season,” he cautioned.

Harbouring the same fear, but presenting a slightly different point of view, Manish Porwal, Executive Director, Starcom (West), said, “Fame Gurukul is far too close in both concept and delivery from the audience point of view. There is a bit of a fatigue factor. You can easily see a drop of 15-20 per cent from the last time. It might be good for the channel, but it is definitely not the best of ideas for the product ‘Indian Idol’ to be so close after ‘Fame Gurukul’. It no longer has the novelty value.”

As media experts put it, the game really is about how differently the channel packages ‘Idol’ this time. In the final weeks at the time of ‘Idol’ last year, the show gave TRPs as high as 9+ and 14+ for Sony. Needless to say, SET is excited.

In an official communiqué, SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta said, “Indian Idol’s internationally successful format has not only hooked millions of viewers the world over, but has also proved itself as a credible to be the platform for that catapulting true talent in India to unparalleled stardom. As witnessed last year, Indian Idol truly holds the potential to deliver a massive ratings success and create national frenzy. We are certain that this year, Indian Idol will only get bigger and better, taking Sony to greater heights.”

Not a long time left to see whether that does happen.

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