‘Roadies XI’ is back with a bang

MUMBAI: The mother of all reality shows – MTV Hero Roadies – is back with Season XI which promises to be one heck of a roller coaster ride.

With the tagline ‘Ride for Respect’, the new season is slated to hit TV screens on Saturday, 25 January at 7pm. The adventure will see seven boys and seven girls bike riding from desert to desert, starting with Sun City Jodhpur and culminating in the Rann of Kutch. Leading the pack will be the winner of season I of MTV Roadies, Rannvijay Singh and MTV Roadies producer, Raghu Ram.

Hero continues to be the title sponsor for the show. Whereas, the channel has roped in nine associate sponsors on-board including brands like CEAT, Mountain Dew, Spraymintt mouth freshener, Karbonn tablets among others.

Significantly, the new edition of MTV Roadies is all about performance sans the vote outs and group politics. So, all 14 contestants will have to prove their mettle through challenging tasks and only their track record through the show journey will get them closer to winning the title.

“Every year, we try to conceptualise the theme of the show around a trending youth sentiment. It is not just about the show, audiences connect with the Roadies’ spirit of never backing down, perseverance and standing tall against all odds. We are pushing the envelope further this year by making the central theme all about the Roadies’ spirit and confidence,” says MTV India head marketing and insights Sumeli Chatterji. “So, while competition will be more intense and tasks will be more challenging; there will be no vote outs and no group politics. Every candidate will have an equal chance to show his or her mettle and win.”

The reason for going ahead with the no vote-out format, producer and judge Raghu Ram says that it is just to be fair. “In the past, many have complained that deserving contestants are voted out. While for me vote out is an interesting situation, we have been blamed for encouraging politics and thus we have done away with the vote out system altogether.”

But it doesn’t mean there won’t be any eliminations – a lot of other things will be introduced to make the show interesting and unpredictable.

Says MTV India EVP and business head Aditya Swamy: “This year on Roadies, we have seven boys and seven girls and they will have an absolutely equal chance in the Ride for Respect. Fresh twists in the format have made Roadies India's longest-running reality show and this year’s format breaker ensures survival only of the fittest.”

Raghu, who usually gives goosebumps to the contestants with his stringent remarks, thinks that the reason behind the year after year success of the game is the love of the audience and the sheer belief that the show is a life changer for many. He remarks: “The show has made adventure and bikes a household name in India. The ten years have seen over five million hopefuls, grueling auditions, tough tasks and deserving winners. The new edition is all geared up to introduce an absolutely new avatar to everyone. What I can promise you is a triple dose of thrill, action and a lot more drama.”

However, when quizzed about the flak the show has got in the past for the use of abusive language, Raghu shots back and says: “I think much has been spoken about the language and it is time people should get over it. Language is not a problem because it is a reality show. Still, this year I have tried to make sure that there is no abusive language used from my end and the focus transforms to that instead of the other things in the show.” 

Apart from auditions in Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh and Pune, this year, the channel also tapped Hyderabad and Kolkata. Also, an all-India audition was conducted online.

Marketing and promotion

This year, the strategy is not only about driving reach across the target audience but also engaging with consumers across various touch points.

A college connect program targeted at over 200 colleges sees Raghu and Rannvijay visiting the colleges and integrating with college festivals and college bike rallies across cities. “Our attempt is to integrate Roadies with city-specific events like Marathon in Pune, partnerships with malls, hangouts and clubs,” says Chatterji.

The channel is reaching out to over 150 power towns across UP and Gujarat through several BTL activations.

Roadies is active on social media as well with nearly 20 million visitors on its micro-site and around 7.8 million fans on Facebook. According to Chatterji, the last season clocked 65 million views online and was the most subscribed YouTube channel for a TV show.

Season XI will be consumed by fans through TV episodes, web episodes, on-ground events and Roadies’ branded merchandise including sunglasses, shoes and bags.

Besides, the brain behind the show, Raghu, has penned a memoir of his over-a-decade-long journey titled Rearview: My Roadies Journey, which explores the bright and not-so-bright side of this ride. Launched in Bangalore recently, the autobiography is available at Crosswords bookstores.


All said, with so many youth-oriented shows from the same channel, what makes Roadies the brand it is? “This is a journey where the underdog can emerge a winner if he survives the game. This series generates intense emotions, not only from the participants and judges but also from the audience. The eliminations, tasks, contestants are always a topic of debate. You can love it, or hate it... but the youth can never ignore Roadies. This drives the social buzz and fan following,” says Chatterji.

However, a media planner says: “There are a lot of youth reality shows on Indian television today. No doubt, Roadies has gained popularity over the years but people now want to see some fresh shows. Though, it’s a good property for advertisers to invest in as the show has a brand value. Having said that, it’s not really going to grab enough eyeballs as the choice of the youngsters has evolved and they would like to watch something new rather than run-of-the-mill stuff.”

However, Raghu thinks that the TG identifies with the format. “The show is very young at heart. It explores human emotions very interestingly. It is not about the tasks, not about the vote-outs, but about facing circumstances and adapting to different dynamics.”

Roadies will be competing with shows like Emotional Atyachar: Love, Shaq aur Dhoka on Bindaas and the repeat telecast of Dil Dosti Dance (D3) on Channel V. Media analysts think that the show doesn’t really have a competition as nothing close to the similar format will be on air on the rival channels.

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