While the KBC is rerun, it has a new element this time. Interactivity. Viewers can participate real time not by calling the already clogged line but by sending SMS. Response? Such was the deluge that Star's systems crashed in few minutes struggling to handle phenomenal 4.5 lakhs messages. And Star is not the only one excited. Some of the leading broadcasters are also using this to good effect to get closer to their viewers.
Besides KBC, Star is transforming passive television viewing into interactive mode via sms in other programmes also. One is war of VJs on channel V where one has to send in his favourite song using sms. Khul Ja Sim Sim on Star TV is another one. It seems that after these experiments Star would look at extending this to its other programmes also.
Commenting on the use of sms technology, Sameer Nair, Chief Operating Officer, Star Group said, "For the television viewers, this is a state-of-the-art opportunity on issues ranging from current affairs and politics to music and entertainment via efficient SMS. This will foster a genuine response to the concerns of the viewing public, via the mobile number, visible on the TV screen."
The 24-hour Hindi channel Aaj Tak has also launched a sms based contests cashing in on the current Champions Trophy fever. The viewers by sending their answers via sms to a question flashed on Aaj Tak at various times during each contest day, can win daily prizes besides a jackpot of 3 Maruti 800 cars sponsored by Parth Masala, Pan Parag and Rupa Thermacot. Aaj Tak ran a similar campaign during the last World Cup Soccer receiving 1.4 million messages in 18 days.
As part of its Champions Trophy campaign, MAX is running an innovative prediction game called 'Predikta' which again is sms based. The MAX viewers can win number of prizes by punching in their mobiles. ETC Punjabi channel is also running a sms based daily contest 'Watch & Win' offering gold prizes quite successfully.
But why a sudden spurt for sms based televiewing? Rajat Jain, Executive Vice President, MAX said, "Interactive contests go a long way in successful promotions. Compare the bother of letters to the convenience of the far more easily available and easy to use SMS function of a mobile phone! SMS responses are instantly received, so we can have a new contest every day."
Nair adds, "Till now, such instant viewer or listener participation was not available and it was difficult for television programming to actively incorporate viewer and listener opinions and preferences." Interestingly, Star India's parent company, the Hong- Kong-based Star Group Ltd, plans to launch a full-fledged interactive TV service in Taiwan later this year.
The media industry is all set to make full use of 8 million plus strong subscribers mobile market in India as Atanu Mandal, CEO of Cellnext Solutions, an Escorts Group IT company, providing the technical support to Star Group on sms says, "In the next few months, the onslaught of next generation of messaging in the form of MMS (Multi Media messaging) is going to revolutionize the entire mobile messaging providing a wide range of options for interactive programming for media companies."