Television

Siddhartha Basu's 'News Wiz' quiz series on India Today TV

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MUMBAI: Indian news is primarily consumed by older males 20 and above. Or at least that is the perception. And that has been a challenge for most news channel sales folks  when they have reached out to media planners and buyers to get on brands targeting a younger demographic to advertise. The latter's rationale for their aversion has been that the generation is mostly getting its information through the web or  on social media, computers, tablets, phones or watching anything but news on TV. 

Now India Today is taking a stab at filling that perception gap by creating a TV show that hopefully will lure  back the school going lot with a challenging and brand new television quiz show titled News Wiz. Slated to launch on 24 July, the thirteen episode long programme will be hosted by senior journalist and an ardent quiz buff himself Rajdeep Sardesai. Something along the lines of The Bournvita Quiz Contest which in its early days aired on Sunday mornings on TV. 

With a duration of an hour, News Wiz  will air every Sunday at 11 am.

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Produced by Anita and Siddhartha Basu of Big Synergy who brought mega quiz shows Kaun Banega Crorepati, Dus Ka Dum, Mastermind India, University Challenge, etc for television, News Wiz will have the brightest and the best informed students from 27 schools around the country competing for the title of India Today News Wiz 2016. The competitors will show off their knowledge of news and current affairs, incidents and events around the world, with each episode featuring three school teams  (two students each) being pitted against each other . The top scoring teams in the nine preliminary episodes and three semi-finals will participate in the grand finale the likes of which has never been seen before on Indian news television.

“News is knowledge and knowledge is news. But today there is a lot of misinformation going on as there are so many mediums - TV, newspapers, magazines and most importantly internet. How do people get to know about things, particularly young people,” says Big Synergy chairman and MD Siddharth Basu.

Adding further, “We shortlisted these 27 schools from close to 1000 entries we received. Some of the schools - around  400 - entered via an online test while the others the regular way. In the end we were down to 60 schools, and of these, after interviews and further elimination procedures, we arrived at 27. These 27 schools will now face each other."  

The competition is open to class IX to class XII  students. The aim:  encourage bright young minds to dig deeper and read more, going beyond the headlines, and take a shot at winning the title. Other than the title, on offer are various prizes ... up for grabs but only for the best of the best.

The teams will be provided with a phone-in helpline where they can take help on their answers from a journalist in the concerned field. Apart from that, the show will also have a web guide station where one team member can look up the answers and assist the other team member who will be attempting the question in an allotted time.

Sardesai  is quite kicked up about anchoring News Wiz. Says he:  “It was a dream to host a quiz show. One of my proudest moment as a young school boy was winning the Bournvita Quiz Contest at the age of 12 or 13. This was with Ameen Sayani for a radio show. I am delighted to be the quizmaster on a news TV show."

Sardesai strongly believes that youngsters will start taking interest in news through this show. “I think that quiz shows grab the attention of school going kids and also encourage them to follow news more closely”

While Tata Motors has come on board as the title sponsor, discussions are on with six other brands to hop on as co-presenting sponsors and associate sponsors. Among those interested include:  personal finance and new age tech gadget advertisers.

“We couldn’t have managed to get an anchor better than Rajdeep who also has a quiz connection. He welcomes the show with his hands wide open. India Today is already the leader in this space and was keen on broadcasting this show,” adds Basu.

A promo has been rolled out featuring Salman Khan posing a question to viewers. He will also be seen in the first episode where viewers can ask questions to the Bollywood star. 

The channel will promote News Wiz through both traditional and non-traditional media. A massive outdoor campaign in the metros supported with a 3600 TV plan across various genres including sister channels has been drawn up.  And ads and promos will roll out in print,  theaters, and online.

“An array of promos will mount with various celebrities throughout the series. Apart from marketing this show across our network, there will be heavy promotional campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. We have planned various marketing innovations happening on the digital front to increase interactivity with our viewers. There will be a daily quiz organised on various social media platforms and the users will be rewarded with exciting prizes," voices TV Today VP marketing Vivek Malhotra. 

Kudos to Basu, Sardesai and their team for finally bringing an exceptional brain twisting show back on TV!

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