Big B clearly way ahead of King Khan: OMS study

MUMBAI: Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), Mudra's independent media agency, conducted a study titled EAR (Estimation of Audience Response) by taking the 'Junta's Vote' on their perception of the much talked about third season of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).

Interestingly, the 'junta' has vouched for the Big B in terms of 'a choice of host'. The study points out that "Big B is clearly way ahead of King Khan, across generations, cities, gender and SECs. Nothing, or no one, beats the on-screen presence and charisma of Amitabh Bachchan."

The highly anticipated show has raised multiple questions regarding King Khan's competency as a quizmaster with obvious comparisions to the Big B. In this respect, OMS has attempted to fore tell the fate of KBC and has outlined the core objective of the survey, to estimate the response level of the viewers towards watching KBC with Shah Rukh Khan as its anchor.

With a sample size of 200 men and women in each city among SECs A, B and C and age bracket of 25 - 44 years, the study was conducted across the three metros of the Hindi viewership belt (Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata).

Even though the study suggests that among all categories of viewers Amitabh Bachchan remains the original choice as a host for the show, a large section of the sample (71 per cent) are willing to give SRK a chance before writing him off. Coupled with 21 per cent who will definitely continue watching KBC , a very high 92 per cent of viewers polled are going to 'try' the first few episodes of KBC.

This poses a scary thought for Star Plus which has thrown in big monies (an estimated Rs 130 crores solely on sponsorships) for the revamped KBC.

Expectedly, a major chunk of the Shah Rukh Khan loyalists consist of females, Delhiites, and the up-market segment, which bodes well for the advertisers aiming at women and higher SECs. Although 20 per cent of viewers polled are likely to remain loyal viewers, there are still 50 per cent of viewers who are ready to flirt with other options. This can be seen generally as the fallout of initial skepticism about the change in host for a 'host-centric' program like KBC.

A further enquiry into the viewer's preferences threw up the most obvious competition - 'cricket', arguably the second religion of India. The issue takes a larger dimension with the relevance of impending World Cup and the recent performance of the Indian team.

This is reflected in the survey which shows that if it does clash with any cricketing event on-air it will affect 30 per cent of the populace; this time the effect being in favour of cricket. This effect seems to be pronounced among 25-30 year olds, males and Kolkatans.

An interesting finding is in the area of expected changes suggested that viewers in different cities have different expectations: Delhites expect easier entry, Kolkatans hope for more fun/humour while Mumbaiites expect the least change.

Another issue of concern will be the time slots. According to the study, although, the weekday 9 pm slot is the most preferred one, the next most preferred time slot is the weekend prime time slot. This is more prevalent within the viewer segment over 40 years of age and among lower socio-economic classes.

What clearly emerges from this study is that, though compared unfavourably vis-?-vis Amitabh Bachchan by all audience groups, the new host is definitely worth a bet for advertisers for the first few episodes, when the audience will 'check-out' SRK on the 'Hot Seat'. Which is why this 'sampling' phase will be so crucial to the show.

It is also appears to be a long-term win-win situation for advertisers targeting Women and the Up-market segment of the population.

Cricket will be a major point of concern and must be regularly tracked to avoid any clash with KBC. Because a fair amount of 'surfing' is expected for KBC, it is imperative that there be a continuous tracking of it w.r.t. competitive programming. Finally, it all will depend on how effectively the charisma of SRK stacks up in the first few episodes in comparison to the standard set by his predecessor.

Optimum Media Solutions president Chandradeep Mitra said, "Given that the day of reckoning for Star Plus is drawing nearer with the impending launch of KBC-3, advertisers and the media fraternity is waiting with bated breath for the final verdict of the Indian viewers. Will they accept the 'Badshah' as the successor to the 'Shahenshah' in the 'Hot Seat'? Will they still be as loyal as they had been in the previous seasons of KBC? Will it be another successful venture for the Star Plus and be viable enough to rake in the advertising 'moolah'? Will it redefine Indian television viewing yet again by its star-glitz? All these can only be speculated upon as of now, and for an improved prediction, one needs to go to the viewers to feel the initial pulse and receptivity of the Indian audience."

The field survey was conducted by Hansa Research for OMS.

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