Roadies has been one of the most popular shows on MTV. Now in its seventh season, it is tougher and meaner than ever before. The Roadies fan club has been increasing over the years in both offline and online media. The Roadies 7 page on Facebook currently has more than 2,800 fans with various discussion threads, while the Roadies 7 community on Orkut has more than 61,000 members Moreover, there are close to 120 followers for Roadies 7 on Twitter.
Speaking to exchange4media, Ashish Patil, General Manager and Senior Vice-President, Creative and Content, MTV, said that the show’s presence on social networking sites such as Twitter let them understand the consumer’s response in real time. “That way, halfway through the show we can figure out what part of the show is being accepted by the audience and what part needs to be worked on,” he added.
This year, there have been major changes in the show’s format and special focus is on the participants’ performance. For instance, even during the auditions, the participants had to go through an actual task such as putting judge Cyrus Broacha (who is acting like a baby) to sleep.
All the participants who were shortlisted had to go through another new level introduced this year, called ‘Ride with Ranvijay’. The 24 riders were put through various tasks until the final seven roadies were selected based on their performance. The Roadies’ flag-off was also on a much larger scale this year; with a concert being held to announce the same. The cast of Aamir Khan-starrer ‘3 Idiots’ flagged of the Roadies.
In an interesting twist, the first episode of Roadies, which was telecast on November 12, 2009, was aired simultaneously on MTV as well as Colors.
Another major tweak that has been introduced in this season of Roadies is actor Irrfan Khan. Out of the 15 episodes of Roadies, Khan will appear in seven of them and each of his appearance will signify one of the seven deadly sins. For example, Khan’s first appearance on the show signified greed.
Being a youth-centric show, the channel has tapped into the digital space in a big way. For instance, the entire application process was carried out online this year and only the shortlisted participants were called for the group discussion. Given the substantial number of Roadies’ followers online, the channel decided to add the applicants to the Roadies group on Facebook and regularly send out information such as exclusive videos and sneak peeks to this group.
In a bid to widen the viewership base of Roadies, the channel has decided to tone down the language that is used on the show to make it more family friendly.
Meanwhile, there is also an offline connect with the consumers through a range of Roadies merchandise. The channel has tied up with Wranglers for special edition of Roadies helmets; with Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) for a range of Roadies notebooks; with Portico for Roadies bedsheets; and with Aureole Inspecs for a range of Roadies sunglasses, among others. Come January 2010, Wrigleys will launch a Roadies edition of chewing gum featuring VJ Ranvijay on the cover of the gum.
MTV naturally expects these activities to help them gain a substantial number of viewers. Ashish Patil affirmed, “Last year’s season got an average rating of TVR 3. This year, we will be happy if it meets the TVR of last year as now everyone has shows in the same time slot, that is, Sunday 7 pm.”
The channel is also strategically using the different shows to attract more viewers. For example, the third season of ‘Spitsvilla’, which is aired on Saturdays at 7 pm. A large chunk of Splitsvilla’s viewership is from Western India and Bangalore, while the major followers of Roadies are from the North and East. So, the repeat episodes of Roadies follow the repeat episodes of ‘Splitsvilla’, which has enabled the channel to gain viewers from across the country.