KBC 12 and the sponsorship puzzle

Will the hit show get enough sponsors behind it this season?

MUMBAI: Sony TV’s Kaun Banega Crorepati is one show which has stood the test of time. In its twentieth season in India, the game show is still popular and appreciated by people of all ages. KBC has always been synonymous with knowledge; it is a platform where contestants' brains have got them big winnings year-on-year. And, of course there is the iconic host of the show upon whom India dotes, the thespian Amitabh Bachchan. SET has already released the promo for this year.

However, this year, KBC is going to be different. To start with, the contestant selection process has gone digital owing to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the country. Interestingly, SET shared the first glimpse of the KBC’s newly constructed set where the shoot starts from today. It has been reported that there will no audiences during the shoot, but only one member with the participant will be allowed to be present in the seating area.

The broadcaster has already signed two premium co-presenting partners for the game show – Tata Salt and Vedantu. The race for lining up other sponsors is on; however no new names have been released by the broadcasting team, until the filing of this report.

Media planners and buyers opine that Sony is currently charging Rs four lakh for a 10-second spot, which would be aired on the standard definition and high definition feeds. The industry view - in the best case scenario - is that KBC being a flagship property, will see those rates holding and, in the worst case, getting shaved by five to 10 per cent on the upper side.

“All big properties have opened at similar to last year’s rates," says Shripad Kulkarni & Associates principal Shripad Kulkarni. "Nobody is expecting overall ad spends to be more than 80 per cent of the last festive season. Moreover, IPL will suck away a big chunk of the budget, so all the big properties are staring at a 15-20 per cent lower yield. Other television genres would see a bigger hit in net yields,” mentions Kulkarni.

Media Ant founder Samir Chaudhary also echoes a similar sentiment and suggests that the rate card for KBC is similar to what it was last year. “In the usual scenario the channel would have booked 80 per cent of the inventory in advance and only 10 percent would be left for spot selling. The situation has changed now due to festivities and the IPL. Since all of these are getting bunched up in terms of timing, the spends will get distributed,” he avers.

Chauudhary adds that the network does not have too much time before the show comes on air, so it might have to do both sponsorship and spot sales simultaneously, unlike prior years when it first got the sponsors in and then sold FCT at a premium.

KBC has always been a premium property that has attracted brands from across the categories. In 2019, Vivo V11 pro and Mahindra Marazzo were the co-powered sponsors along with additional associate sponsors. The game show has the ability to cut across all ages and the brand equity of the legendary actor Bachchan has helped it make a grand success over the years.

Havas Media buying national head R. Venkatasubramanian believes that KBC will finally get support from advertisers and sponsors even though that looks like a challenging task currently. Says he: "This is a high investment property and clients will choose a vehicle on which they are getting ROI and KBC does offer that."

According to ex- Madison Media chief operating officer Anita Bose, as agencies and clients are not meeting, one can see a big difference between closing a deal face to face versus doing it online. She notes that even if KBC is a successful property with a great track record, clients are not willing to spend that kind of money that's being asked. It is one of the reasons why KBC got postponed, she shares, adding “starting a reality show will be challenging because of the pandemic, the client portfolio will also be different now. They are being very cautious.”

The pessimists and naysayers are of the view that due to the fact that cases of Covid2019 are continuing to rise and the IPL is coinciding with the festive season, television is not finding the going easy. Their view is that IPL may end up eating 40 per cent of viewership, which could lead to a drop in GEC viewership, with the movie and news genres continuing to hold strong. Red lights may start blinking for the entire TV sector if the festive season doesn’t live up to its promise and expectation, setting TV channels back for the rest of the year.

Bose further reveals that due to the economic slowdown, clients are hesitant to spend. As far as discounts or incentive plans are concerned, she thinks there will be no cash price offs from channels. “I think there will be other value offers which will make sense to clients. The channel will not reduce the price, as it is a matter of prestige but what makers can do is to give more value addition on the network and that is how the selling will happen. Also, depending upon the client’s requirement they can tailor it accordingly."

She adds that since KBC is a format which follows the original, there are lots of dos and don'ts which advertisers have to adhere to, unlike other shows where the flexibility is more.

Venkatasubramanian highlights that the show will also get support from mobile, consumer durables, automobiles, and tyre categories that are more than willing to pick up a slot on the 12-strong KBC sponsor rack. He believes that "ecommerce brands will probably go in for spot buy deals with edtuech companies stepping on to the podium."

We can only wait and watch and see if his predictions will come true.

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