Will it be cash or crunch for Bigg Boss Season 8?

Colors may have attracted several brands for its top-billed reality show this year, but with high production costs and Salman Khan's fees, questions remain over the show's profitability

e4m by Collin Furtado
Published: Sep 17, 2014 8:21 AM  | 6 min read
Will it be cash or crunch for Bigg Boss Season 8?

Colors has played arguably its best hand once again with the highly anticipated show Bigg Boss Season 8, which will premiere on the channel on September 21, 2014 ('Bigg Boss Season 8' readies for take-off on September 21). The reality show, which has always enjoyed a healthy fan following ever since its first season, will air every day at the 9 pm prime time slot hosted by Salman Khan once again. Considering its profile and its track record, the show, with an aviation theme this time, has already had several brands come on board. But with escalating costs of production and ad rates, we  wanted to know if brands are still considering it good investment.

Expensive show 

Eight brands are already part of the show - Snapdeal as the presenting sponsor, followed by Oppo Mobiles as the powered by sponsor, Maruti Suzuki, TVS Motors, J K Tyre,, Bisleri Urzza and Garnier Men as the associate sponsors. The presenting sponsorship deal with Snapdeal is estimated to be Rs 35 crore. Last year Vodafone paid Rs 25 crore for the same deal, while the value of the deals with Oppo Mobiles and other brands is still not known. According to some media reports, at Rs 3.5 lakh -Rs 4 lakh for a 10-second spot, the show commands the highest advertising and spot rates so far for any entertainment show. The only entertainment show which comes close, is Yudh, which commands Rs 3 lakh for a 10-second spot. The other TV event that claims higher figures is IPL, which commands Rs 4-4.5 lakh for a 10-second spot.

Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors confirmed the hike, saying: “This year we have increased our rates by almost 30 per cent compared to previous season.”

The jump in the rates is tied to the production costs, say sources. In fact, a senior executive from the channel told exchange4media on the condition of anonymity that the show cost the channel a staggering Rs 150 crore. According to media reports, it was Rs 110-120 crore last year. A significant chunk of this cost is earmarked for the host Salman Khan, who is set to earn Rs 5-6 crore every week from the show this season. Last year, he took home Rs 3.5-4 core every week and approximately Rs 60 crore for the entire season. While the channel does not confirm the numbers, if these media reports are true, it makes Salman Khan the highest paid celebrity on TV, comparable only to Amitabh Bachchan, who gets Rs 4 crore every week during KBC, which was aired only on weekends last season. 

Will it be profitable?

Considering the numbers doing the rounds, the question is, does it make a profitable venture? Nayak hopes the channel will break even. “The sponsors consume about 65 per cent of the inventory. We are not looking at more co-sponsors because there are many people who may not be able to afford the ticket size of Rs 10 crore or Rs 12 crore. So we want to give an opportunity to other brands to be part of Bigg Boss and have kept aside a certain number of inventory for spot buys.”

However, Atul Sharma, GM, Starcom MediaVest raised questions about the profitability of the show. “I seriously doubt if it will be profitable because of the costs and Salman Khan. As far as the brands are concerned, the price is too high and though they have some brands on board already, I do not think they will be profitable. However, the property most certainly has promise and will deliver in terms of viewership.”

On the other hand, Dinesh Vyas, GM, MEC sounded hopeful: “It is like IPL which gives you good viewership in a scenario where other shows fail to deliver. Despite the high rates, brands will use this platform to reach more people. We would like discounted rates but I understand the cost of production is also high. Brands will buy Bigg Boss at the end of the day because the market is cluttered and they will latch onto anything that gets them eye balls.”

According to Deepak Netram, GM, Lodestar Universal, “The timing of the (launch) show around the festive season always tends to attract more inventory and brands. Going by its track record, the show's inventory will be picked up easily, but the hook is also important. It has to engage the audiences.”

This should not be a problem as according to TAM ratings for Season 7, Bigg Boss had scored 4.40 TRPs on an average throughout the season last year. Ratings on the last week of the show had reached its peak with 5.73 TRPs. 

Brand expectations

Considering its star power and previous records, brands are keen to leverage the show. For e-commerce players, desirous of gaining critical mass, Bigg Boss is the perfect platform (E-comm players eye critical mass, spend big on TV). For Snapdeal it was about recognition and reaching a wider audience.

Speaking on this association, Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder & CEO, said, “Bigg Boss is a show which is followed across the country and we wanted to be associated with a name which has a high consumer recall. It seemed like a good opportunity for us to get recognition and be seen by the masses. As far as return on investment is concerned, we will have to wait and see as the show progresses. I am sure it will do well and will pay off in the end.”

Another brand investing in the show is one of the pioneers of radial technology in India, J K Tyre. Commenting on the band's association with the show, Vikram Malhotra, Marketing Director, JK Tyre & Industries said, “We evaluated various options and finally decided to get associated with the show. With its high affinity amongst our target group, the show is a perfect fit for JK Tyre brand. The association gels well with our overall objective to build saliency and create impact.” 

Despite the hefty price tag and bit of a cloud over the return on investment, Bigg Boss still commands top dollars from advertisers for its popularity. It remains to be seen if it makes profits for the  channel which has bet big on its prized project.

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