's Comment

Aamir Khan's show set to change television Team

(7 May 2012 11:59 pm)


I t probably is one of the most explosive launches of a show in Indian television history. Satyamaeva Jayate - Aamir Khan’s home production - has had it all: seven channels simulcasting the show in different languages, a launch ad spend of Rs 60 million, a campaign to keep the content of the show absolutely secret which heightened viewer curiosity, a very active buzz marketing campaign, close to Rs 900 million in sponsorship money behind it, reportage on almost every news channel, and, of course Aamir Khan, as a host and anchor of the show urging viewers – nay hypnotizing viewers to tune in.

And they did by the millions. It is quite likely that the show will have the highest TRPs in television history and highest GRPs for a single episode of a show ever. A new benchmark will have been set by the time the ratings come out next week. estimates that close to 70-80 GRPs will be generated by the show across languages.

These GRPs are very very valuable for they will open up a time slot for advertisers and broadcasters on Sunday morning, one which has been moribund for around 20 years. As it is Colors has started telecasting All is Well with Dr Ahluwalia and Salman Khan on Sunday mornings and the channel has been experimenting with event based shows in the early afternoon slot. It has met with middling success, but the channel’s programmers have kept at it in the belief that early Sunday afternoon will build audiences.

The show is noteworthy for one point. Star TV head honcho Uday Shankar – a former journalist – does want to use it to try and make it an instrument of change in Indian society. At least make an attempt to weed out evils which have been plaguing hapless common Indians for decades. And it is using various media outlets to get the message of Satyameva Jayate out: TV, print, Internet, social media, public interactions, and what have you.

For starters, there is the TV show which seeks to address the issue, explain it with live cases of individuals who have been victims of the evil, those who have faced the consequences of their actions in resisting age old evils, those who have overcome all societal interference and resistance to battle the evil and emerged triumphant. It endeavours to provide succor to organisations (in terms of donations) who have been working against the social evil . And it also attempts to use the collective support of TV audiences to force governments to take action against perpetrators of a social evil, which they have been loathe to do for long.

The public voice is being collated via the use of the handphone and SMS. India has around 950 million of them. And almost every second person we know has sent out an SMS for the first episode relating to female foeticide to force the Rajasthan government to fast track certain cases which have been gathering dust for seven years now.

The third medium that is being used is the print medium where Aamir Khan will be penning a column around Satyameva Jayate.

The fourth medium is the Internet: viewers can log on to the website to watch the episode in its entirety after it is telecast on TV, watch some interesting clips, they can also recap and study the issue which is being covered, they can upload their hope, horror stories onto the site in the form of videos or leave voice messages at a number, ask Aamir questions, leave comments, and donate to NGOs. A complete site if there was any. One limitation which we hope the Star India team will try and get over is that the website is only in English – more language versions in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi are needed. This limitation despite, had got more than 5300 likes and 297 tweets at the time of writing.

This apart what works well is the buzz the show generated on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and their like. Aamir Khan, female foeticide, Satyamev Jayate were all trending on Twitter. Other stars tweeted, lauding the show, further adding to the online buzz. The official YouTube channel had generated 180,000 views and 3,910 likes and 42 dislikes at the time of writing.

The fifth medium is the screen. Aamir and Star plan to screen the first episode in select villages to create awareness of the evil of female foeticide with common people who missed the first episode for want of a TV set.

What is also laudable is the fact that for the first time viewers who are also mobile phone users can donate money by just sending an SMS about the amount they want to dole out, thanks to Star’s tieup with Airtel Money.

The show will draw in a core loyal audience – ratings are likely to level off once the initial euphoria around it dies down. But that audience will be large enough to merit the gamble that Aamir and Shankar took when they chose the 11 am Sunday morning slot.

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