The battle lines are being drawn for what could be the biggest war for mega game show honours on the Indian television. With Star Plus already announcing its plans to start the season of its runaway hit game show "KBC," possibly from August - September, Zee bosses are fine-tuning their strategy to pre-empt KBC.
Zee TV president Abhijit Saxena told exchange4media that the plans are afoot to launch a mega game show on Zee TV by 2005 autumn. Though Saxena was not willing to divulge any specific details about their proposed game show, he, however, gave a broad hint that it could offer a much bigger prize money than Rs 2 crore that would be given by KBC in its second run. Zee TV's top brass is on a lookout for a celebrity host who could match the charisma of Amitabh Bachchan on KBC.
Zee TV had earlier made an unsuccessful attempt to counter KBC in its first run, with its mega game show - "Sawal Dus Crore Ka," hosted by Anupam Kher. Saxena said that they have kept open the option of a female celebrity anchor for their proposed game show.
Zee's upcoming mega game show is a part of the channel's new aggressive strategy to create channel driver properties to generate greater audiences and revenue. The channel is unveiling this strategy with the launch of "Business Baazigar," later this month. This bi-lingual weekend reality show hosted by Sandhya Mridul and Cyrus Sahukar has an innovative concept of funding the business ideas of people from all walks of life. According to Saxena, Business Baazigar will be the most expensive show ever on Zee TV, with its production cost being ten times more than the production cost of normal soaps (Rs 4 - 5 lakh).
Zee TV will run Business Baazigar over three seasons, with 39 episodes to be aired during the first season. Once Business Baazigar finishes its first run of about four months, Zee TV will herald the return of another of its channel-driver property, "India's Best Cinestar Ki Khoj" with a new format.
The channel is also creating channel-driver property through a large number of high-quality low-budget films with thriller, comedy, love and real life themes. Zee TV is funding these films with a budget of Rs 1 crore for each film. Said Saxena, "We have seen that several low-budget films with innovative themes have got greater viewers response than the big blockbusters. Already about two dozen such films are on the floor and we intend to start airing these films from June. We are also working on a project on cross-over films."
To further consolidate its programming, Zee TV is creating separate programming blocks for different audiences like children, women, and general family viewing by June-end.