Heading Sony Entertainment Television is a first-of-its-kind experience for Ajit Thakur. The Coca Cola and Levers’ background professional entered the Indian media industry purely out of his passion for the content business. As Sony’s Business Head, he is responsible for a Hindi general entertainment channel (not for the faint-hearted) for the first time.
Thakur had a massive challenge at hand when he had first come in. And to his credit, Sony has stabilised on No. 4 position, properties other than ‘CID’ seem to be delivering, ‘Indian Idol’ managed an exciting season after some really dull seasons and Sony secured two big ticket properties – ‘3 Idiots’ that has rated more than any movie in recent times, and ‘KBC’. The fourth season is expected to launch in the last quarter of 2010, though Sony is still firming up details.
Ajit was in Delhi last week, and in a very interesting (and charged) conversation, he was telling us about all that is changing at Sony. But the one thing that we discussed at length, and that would be very interesting to watch out for, is what would the return of the ‘original’, as Sameer Nair describes Amitabh Bachchan in his role of ‘KBC’ anchor, mean for ‘KBC’ in its newest season, and for Sony.
The registration lines for the show opens today, August 2, 2010, incidentally, the day when Big B’s family celebrates his second birthday, and might I add that some people associated with the show have taken the coincidence to be a good omen of sorts.
As Sony gears to put its might behind the show, will the audiences be excited with Big B? Ajit believes they would be – research guides him to some extent, and some of what he sees around him. The excitement in his argument, and the simplicity of it – entertainment, knowledge and Big B’s unquestionable fan following – could convince anyone that Sony has a winner at hand. But let’s face it, it is never that easy. Ajit would be the first one to admit that (and we love that about him).
There are a few challenges one must take into consideration. For starters, Big B is everywhere. A viewer doesn’t have to tune in to Sony to watch Big B in action. ESPN has him as a brand ambassador for a cricket tournament! So you know what I am saying.
Second, Big B really didn’t really create any magic for ‘Bigg Boss’ in its second season on Colors. In fact, episodes with Big B were some of the low rated ones.
Third, game shows are not really a winner with the audience – talent shows, some of them, are alright but ‘Big Money’, ‘Paanchvi Paas’ or ‘Bingo’ did not do well at all for the channels they were on, despite Imagine, Star and Colors really betting big on these properties.
So, will Big B work for ‘KBC’? Not an easy question, is it? But from Sony’s standpoint, that is not the only thing they have to pay attention to anyway. How will the game be different in this season? Racier, faster pace, younger is what STAR had done with the show in the second season, so that is not enough. And Sony wants the show on air for a few months, so what would it do that is different enough?
Of course, Ajit did not answer that, and if I have to believe him, the reason is that they are still deciding. I don’t blame them, they can’t make any mistakes.
But this one has all the promises of an interesting watch, so I am eager to see the promotions of the show, what the first rushes are like, whether Big B’s involvement in the behind-the-scenes of the show helps, and most of all, if history can repeat itself…