Television

Why Bigg Boss remains the most bankable property for Colors

Bigg Boss 14 has registered highest ever viewing minutes in its launch week

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MUMBAI: Ever since its launch more than a decade ago, reality show Bigg Boss – fashioned after the Dutch series Celebrity Big Brother – has never failed to entertain and titillate audiences. The first edition of the show, with Arshad Warsi as the host, aired on Sony Entertainment Television with a TRP of 2.72. Then it passed into the hands of Colors, where it scored an impressive TRP  of 6.99. According to BARC data, Bigg Boss 13 garnered 13.8 million impressions in the finale week last year, breaking the record set by its previous seasons.

Season 14 kicked off ahead of the festive season and has already racked up 3.9 billion viewing minutes in its launch week, the highest in the last three seasons.

With the exciting matches in the IPL hogging up daily viewing time,  Bigg Boss has not made it into the top five programmes of Hindi general entertainment channels in week 40, but Colors  has consistently been in the top five channels in the HSM (U+R) market and urban market for the past five weeks. In fact, with the launch of the reality show, Colors secured the second position on  BARC's  pay platform and urban market charts for the first time in five weeks. Weekly impressions recorded on the pay platform chart were 676930 billion and 497722 billion in the urban market. chart

So, what makes Bigg Boss so popular?

There could be multiple reasons. Just like the IPL is to Star Sports, Bigg Boss is a tentpole show for Colors. It is a franchise that allows brands and channels to grow with it, a show that grows year-on-year. When it comes to this dramatic reality show, there is no middle ground, one either loves it or hates it. For people who watch it, it's a cult following.

The show currently has a total of 15 sponsors. Apart from the presenting sponsors – Mobile Premier League (MPL), Dabur Dant Rakshak Ayurvedic Paste and TRESemmé and Lotus Herbals – the channel now has 14 associate sponsors that include Captain food’s Chings, Vicco, Greenlam Laminates, Garnier Men, Mamaearth, Somany Tiles and Lifebuoy. The associate sponsors only for Colors HD comprise Philips, MDH Masale, Fogg, Honda, Urban Company, Duroflex and LG Electronics.

Havas Media Group India MD Mohit Joshi predicted the latest edition of the reality show will be more popular and profitable than its predecessors. With all signs pointing to a subdued festive season, viewers are bound to tune in and get their thrills from elsewhere. “Bigg Boss 13 was the most-watched reality show with 10+ million impressions, as per data released by BARC India. Owing to the fact that the audiences have been starved for fresh content on TV, there is going to be huge traction which is why it will be preferred by brands and advertisers,” said Joshi. 

Viacom18 Hindi mass entertainment chief content officer Manisha Sharma shared that with Bigg Boss, the network tries to break its own benchmarks and introduces something new and innovative every season. “It is an important cog in the wheel of our business at a network level and also creates viable opportunities for brand associations. The mechanics of the show is such that it has something for everyone; be it celebrities, viewers, brands, advertisers.”

Since Bigg Boss grabs eyeballs, it makes sense for advertisers as well. According to a person closely associated with the show in the past, it is attractive to broadcasters not just because it’s a monetisable property, but it keeps paying dividends even in the long run.
 
“Hypothetically speaking, if you spend Rs 140 crore on the property in three months, you will make a profit on it. It is compelling content for advertisers and brands," he said.

Format

Bigg Boss is a show that thrives on drama and controversy. It deliberately brings together highly opinionated and egotistical  individuals and leaves them to stew in a pressure cooker environment for three solid months. The show appears on your television screens every day, and, before you know it, becomes a habit.

There are drama queens, a few foreign names (for example: Pamela Anderson, Jade Goody and Sunny Leone), struggling actors and a political or religious figure. Contestants are eliminated and replacements are introduced to keep things interesting. Love affairs and big fights abound; there is no telling friend from foe – it is like watching a Bollywood melodrama unfold in real time.

The format of Bigg Boss indulges its viewers’ voyeurism, and makes for great gossip with friends, colleagues and family. It frequently ranks as one of the top trends on social media.

“It generates an ecosystem of viewers, fans, and admirers that further builds the show up and creates conversations about it and the contestants,” Sharma further added.

Brand Integration Opportunities

Brands want to get associated with a programme  which gives them higher recall value. Think IPL and you associate it with the IPL,  Maruti Suzuki well the quickest connect is with India’s Got Talent. Bigg Boss as a reality show provides greater brand integration opportunities than daily soaps. It has evolved not only in terms of costs but concepts, scripts, marketing and production every year.

Apart from regular brand visibility, the channel provides businesses with tailor-made tasks and branding opportunities for them for a span of 100 plus  days, said Sharma. They get higher visibility than any other reality show in the space. “The interesting content and higher viewership is also one of the factors that make Bigg Boss an apt engagement foreground for the brands and hence some of them also renew their partnerships with us year on year,” she elaborated.

Bigg Boss is also a show which sometimes is at the receiving end of a heavy viewer backlash, but Havas' Joshi shrugged off this concern, saying, “We live in a ‘socially connected’ world where anyone can express his/ her point of view. Hence public opinion is what we as individuals and brands have to live with.”

Joshi also asserted that the show's nature and format are such that it is bound to attract a lot of positive as well as negative chatter. The reason why brands continue to associate with the property is for its reach. When their promotional vehicle faces flak, brands have to manage their online reputation smartly and sensitively, pointed out Joshi.

Every brand that comes on board is very well aware of the nature of the show, and the publicity that it garners, added Sharma. “We also manage our clients very well who put in immense trust in us which is the reason they keep coming back to us.”

Salman Khan As The Host

One of the biggest draws of Bigg Boss is undoubtedly the celebrity of its host – Salman Khan. The actor has an army of diehard fans, many of whom tune in on weekends just to watch Khan delivering justice to contestants who caused chaos in the house that particular week. This time around though, viewers are missing the hand slapping, physical contact,  between Khan and his coterie of famous friends, courtesy the Covid2019 pandemic. However, clever creative and production is more than making up for this minor absence. 

Big Boss 13 got high traction in both urban as well rural markets and Joshi said this was due to the fact that it is like a doorway allowing the audience to virtually enter into the lives of celebrities. And the presence of Salman Khan adds an extra dose of excitement.

Monetisation

Given the sheer scale and viewer base, Bigg Boss is one of the biggest reality shows on Indian television right now. It has all the ingredients that make it a winning property. It is the most talked about, most trended show, and has created a community that thrives on it for entertainment. “Bigg Boss takes things to another level for us in terms of content and viewership. It possesses the power to catapult the channel to the number one spot and contribute in a big way to the revenue,” said Sharma.

Even with the kind of expense that is resting on the property, Bigg Boss is a great opportunity for brands and advertisers to get on board, she explained, since the viewers connect and engage with the show because they can see contestants going through a whirlwind of emotions in the midst of great angst and drama. “It is a perfect blend anyone can ask for and the kind of integration opportunities we end up doing on the show is humongous. It benefits the brands massively.”

Winners Get Popularity

Bigg Boss has proved to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things for many of its contestants. Just by participating in the show, they’re able to amass a loyal fan base, leading to brand endorsements, TV shows, and much more.

But fame is a fickle friend. Season six winner Urvashi mentioned that her life did not particularly change post-Bigg Boss in any manner. However, winning the title did mean a lot to her because people got to see her as a person, she added. “It has given me a title, helped me in reaching the audience and the masses... A show like Bigg Boss plays in different ways for each contestant's careers. For me, the show added a trophy to my kitty while for others it may lead them to other things. To each their own, I say.”

Though Colors has time and again proved its mettle, it would be interesting to see how long it can sustain the Bigg Boss phenomenon raging through India.

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