MTV to roll out Splitsvilla, its most expensive show

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | May 30, 2008
The music channel is launching a new reality show after the fifth season of its cult show, Roadies. The new show is a romantic one

Now that & #BANNER1 & # the fifth season of its cult adventure reality show, Roadies, has ended, music channel MTV is launching a romance-drama reality show. The show is called Splitsvilla and will be aired every Saturday at 7pm, instead of Roadies. Roadies was the top-rated show on the channel. In Mumbai and Delhi, the channel claims, Roadies garnered TVRs as high as 8.

Much of the viewership for MTV comes during the weekend. "Everything we make is targeted at a pyramid. The core target group is 18-21 year olds, belonging to SEC A, B in Mumbai and Delhi. The second part of the pyramid is 15-24 year olds, SEC A, B, from all metros. The broader target audience would be 12-34 year olds from all Hindi speaking markets," says Ashish Patil, vice-president and general manager, creative and content, MTV India.

Splitsvilla is a reality show in which 20 girls will fight to win the hearts of two boys. In each episode, a contestant will get eliminated, or 'dumped' in the show's parlance. The show is loaded with twists and drama and many of the elements of Roadies have been retained to appeal to its existing viewers.

Ashish Patil
Unlike other reality shows, Splitsvilla did not have any auditions. Instead, the channel had a casting process, using which it reached out to prospective contestants at youth hangouts, supported by promotions of the same on MTV, radio stations, websites, clubs, discotheques, etc., across India. The girls were then shortlisted and auditioned.

MTV has tried its hand at other similar 'romance' shows such as Love Line, Love Ke Liye, MTV Ishq Deewane, GPL (Gehre Pyaar Pe Laat) and, most recently, MTV Meet or Delete. However, Patil believes that nothing as big as this has ever been done before on television. "It's not really a dating reality show - it has all the tricks of Roadies. It's competitive and has elements of love, betrayal and survival, set against the backdrop of romance," he says.

MTV hopes to leverage the fan following that its big ticket show, Roadies, has created with Splitsvilla. This, Patil says, is the next big show from MTV and almost double the amount of money has gone into it. "The endeavour is to make it as successful as Roadies," he says, adding that Splitsvilla is the most expensive show the channel has ever rolled out till date. MTV has bought a resort in Goa and done it up just for the show.

MTV is promoting Splitsvilla heavily. Mumbai and Delhi are full of hoardings and almost 50-100 bus shelters have been branded in Mumbai. The channel will have an inhouse advertising campaign rolling out on television across channels such as Zee Café, Zee Studio and Neo Sports, on programmes that match the tonality of the show, along with show promos. There is a tie-up with MSN, an initiative that the channel will launch soon. There's another tie-up with Cosmopolitan, under which the magazine will carry not just advertisements, but a lot of editorial content like features on and profiles of the contestants. The tie-up with Mid-Day will feature an exclusive Splitsvilla Photo Case-Book, which will summarise the happenings of each episode.

Hindi news channel IBN7 will carry highlights from and sneak peeks into every episode. PVR Cinemas will run Splitsvilla promos on all its screens and have additional branding within the multiplex.

"We are also doing a half hour show on Red FM around romance on Saturdays and have funny radio spots as well," says Patil. There is a tie-up with coffee shop Mocha, under which customers will get postcards from the show with every bill. Archies Gallery will create exclusive merchandise (like greeting cards) around the show.

MTV has a digital tie-up with the show's main sponsor, Vodafone, under which ringtones, caller tunes, wallpapers, etc., will be made available to users. The channel has created a music video of the show and is airing it across channels and radio stations. There is also a special website to facilitate viewership. The other sponsors of the show are Wild Stone, Tiger and No Marks.

MTV will also have celebrity guests on the show in some episodes. Several seasons of Splitsvilla are being planned.