Sony Entertainment Television seems to be playing an expensive gamble. The channel is soon to commence the activities of a reality show, Indian Idols. As per market sources, there has been heavy investment in the show and the pricing has been done accordingly. The channel is looking for six associate sponsors, expecting an investment of Rs 2.5 crore from each.
The highest the channel usually charges for associate sponsorship for blockbusters is in the region of Rs 1 crore. The spot buys for blockbusters like ‘Baghban’ and the forthcoming Diwali offering, ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ are in the region on Rs 5 lakh for 10 seconds. For the channel’s current driver show, ‘Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin’, the billing is around Rs 3 lakh for 10 seconds. However, most of these deals offer bonus spots but Indian Idols will be different. Industry sources inform that the channel has decided not to give any bonus spots for Indian Idols and the spot buys are expected in the region of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for 10 seconds.
Indian Idols is an adaptation of FremantleMedia and 19TV's reality entertainment format, Idols that premiered in UK as Pop Idols and has been adapted in 23 countries, given a localised title everywhere. The talent hunt looks for a solo pop idol, based solely on viewers’ votes. It was first brought in Asia when MediaCorp acquired the rights to bring the property to Singapore earlier in the year. Internationally, FremantleMedia’s officials are present in the country concerned to supervise the show.
The on-ground activity begins in August 2004. The channel is looking at a two-month period for its on-ground activities, which will continue till October 2004. From October to February 2005, the on-air activities will take place. The four-month television property means a totality of over six months of live action for Sony.
The on-ground responsibilities of the show will be done by Miditech, which was recently involved in STAR’s India Child Genius. Niret and Nikhil Alva, the duo behind Miditech, have time and again proved their expertise in organising the on-ground requirements for an event of this scale. Optimystix will be responsible for the television property. The Sanjiv Sharma and Vipul Shah promoted outfit has worked for ‘Khullja Sim Sim’, ‘Kismen Kitna Hai Dum’ and Sony’s latest offering, ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’. Sources also inform that Aman Varma and Mini Mathur are roped in to present the show.
The show is designed as a semi-weekly. The first episode of the week would be a one-hour, where participants would be introduced. They would interact with a panel of judges and perform as instructed. Then it is viewers’ turn to cast their votes and winners in each round would be decided based on that. Winners would be announced in the subsequent episode, which would be a half hourly.
A benefit with the format is that it allows some flexibility to the programmers, even though they have to follow the original format. Apart from episodes that include the main contests, various properties can be created around the show. Behind the scenes and other aspects of the show like the judging processes, participants’ reactions and the likes can be showcased to increase the interest.
Viewers’ participation in the show can come from different mediums like phones, SMS, interactive TV and online. However, it is learnt that Sony has not secured any tie-ups with any supplier for either mediums yet. The first, expected to be clinched soon, would be phone lines.
The Points to delve in
The first point to delve into is that the concept is not unique to India. Nationwide music hunts have taken place with ‘Saare Gaama’ for years now. Also Channel [V]’s property ‘Popstars’ is on similar lines. Even in that, Popstars I recorded greater success than Popstars II.
Properties like these have been accepted well on Indian screen but can they be fate-turners for a channel? And, how is the industry currently viewing the property?
“I think it makes extreme sense from a brand point of view. The sponsors will get high mileage from the show,” shares Amol Dighe, Investment Director, GroupM, “It will prove to be a good activation programme for brands that are looking at a youth-centric appeal and imagery.”
However, Dighe has doubts on viewership. Says he, “Look at any talent hunt. How much have they worked in the country? They can be a good image building property. But I don’t think they are eyeball pullers.”
Madan Mohan Mohapatra, Media Director, The MediaEdge, on the other hand, says quite a lot depends on how the channel goes about the property. “How they adapt it, implement it and make it more interactive matters,” he expresses, “Also the psychography is important. If they are looking at the entire family, then the product means something.”
A few areas where he believes that it will definitely work for the channel is building the channel’s image further in metros, “But I think with this product they will focus in the 1-million-plus towns as well and would try to make a stronger mark there.”
Indian Idols is an expensive buy for the channel and the fact that STAR India too was negotiating with the format company in 2003-end, indicates that the show could hold potential in the country. Sony has shown aggressive and innovative marketing with its recent shows. An initial stir, hence, should not prove difficult but will the show recover the costs and importantly bring in viewers for the channel, would be interesting to watch. As of now, planners expect the show to deliver in the region of 4 to 5 in terms of TVR. However, if this has to be a fate-turner for the channel, Sony would surely be looking at way higher ratings.