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Big action on small screen

A cricket series and an international quiz show customised for India are the two big TV hopefuls for Sony and Star respectively, reports Saurabh Turakhia.
Hindustan Times | By Saurabh Turakhia
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2008 10:49 PM IST

Action is back on the television screen. Two aggressive forces, at the moment, are infusing it: the BCCI-backed Indian Premier League and Star Plus’ forthcoming quiz show, Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? The former is banking on the status of ‘religion’ that cricket has in India. The latter is an Indian version of a foreign quiz show, to be hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. The first season for Paanchvi Pass is for 12 weeks with a total of 36 one-hour episodes, to be telecast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Kevin Vaz, EVP, ad sales, STAR India, says: “We have a total of 11 sponsors on the show—Airtel is the presenting sponsor and the 10 associate sponsors are LG, Pepsi, Cadbury Halls, Gujarat Ambuja, Pidilite, L’Oreal, Havells, Tata Sky, General Motors, and Parle G.” He’s silent about the figures, but market sources say Airtel has spent close to Rs 40 crore, while the 10 associate sponsors have spent Rs 8-10 crore each, totalling the revenues from sponsorships to about Rs 150 crore. Sources add that 20 per cent of the inventory has been kept aside for spot buys, which will be sold at Rs 4-5 lakh per ten seconds.

As far as IPL is concerned, despite the fanfare during the announcement, there has been some dip in enthusiasm. There are a total of six sponsors. Rohit Gupta, president, Sony Entertainment Television, says: “Hyundai and Vodafone are the presenting sponsors while Coke, Max New York Life, Godrej and a client I can’t name are the associate sponsors.” He adds that 20 per cent of the inventory—about 800 seconds of a total of 2,000 seconds—has been kept aside for spot buys. Sources say that presenting sponsors have invested Rs 22-26 crore each, while associate sponsors have shelled out Rs 18-21 crore each. Reliable sources say that the spot-buys will bring in Rs 2.5 lakh for every 10 seconds.

One has to remember the World Cup debacle to realise that cricket, all said and done, can turn out to be a huge gamble. The difference this time is that players will be representing regions and not a nation—so the risk is not so high. There are 59 matches in all in the IPL.

There is much more at stake for Panchvi Pass. Although SRK’s hosting of KBC 3 didn’t go unnoticed, it didn’t deliver as well as the earlier seasons. Star hopes the magic works this time. Salil Pitale, a media analyst at ENAM says: “Star has been losing market share consistently and the gap between Star and Zee is narrowing. The general entertainment space has also seen two formidable competitors in the form of 9X and NDTV Imagine.”

Vaz is quite hopeful. He says the show has brought sponsors from diverse fields: “We expect the show to do well across audiences. If you see the kind of sponsors on board, it clearly shows the same expectation among them—from Pepsi who targets the youth, to Parle G and Cadbury who target kids. From Havells, Gujarat Ambuja and Pidilite who target males to L’Oreal whose core audience are women”.

Airtel is quite enthusiastic about the show. Gopal Vittal, the company’s director, marketing and communication, says: “The show has been a huge success in many parts of the world and SRK is certainly a huge draw.” A source close to Airtel confirms that it has invested over Rs 20 crore for the show. It helps Airtel that SRK is also its brand ambassador. Pepsi is another such sponsor trying to capitalise on the SRK appeal. When asked about KBC 3, Vittal says that Airtel got its money’s worth, not getting into specifics.

Ambuja Cement looks like an unlikely advertiser for Paanchvi Pass. Harish Shriyan, managing partner of OMD, the media agency for Ambuja, explains: “Ambuja Cement stands for strength. The show, which is about the emotional strength of family bonding, is something that the whole family will watch together. That’s where the connect is for us.”

Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, explains why L’Oreal is investing in the show: “The show works for both men and women, which helps the brand that has products for both consumer sets. The show is the biggest property along with IPL this quarter. Since IPL is largely a male property, the connect for L’Oreal is better with the quiz show.”

Both Sony and Star would be praying hard that these two properties work. Sony has spent $1.03 billion (Rs 4,120 crore) for broadcast rights of IPL for 10 years. For Star, the quiz show could hopefully bring back the performance zing the channel so definitely needs.

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