afaqs!

'Such' Ka Saamna

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | July 24, 2009
STAR Plus' new show gets a head start but also gets embroiled in a controversy

It is perhaps one of the most intellectual and evolved format shows that Indian audiences were ever introduced to. The Indian adaptation of the American game show, Moment of Truth, which has been launched in 23 countries worldwide, has got an encouraging start in the country. As per TAM reports, the show debuted in India with a TVR of 4.6 (C&S, 4+, HSM), much ahead of what other reality shows have garnered in recent times.

The format of the game puts a participant through a polygraph test that maps body reactions to detect lies. The participant is asked about 50 questions prior to the show. During the show, 21 of the most interesting questions are repeated to the participant, who is unaware of the polygraph results, and has to then ensure that he/she says the truth to win the prize money.

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A format like this needed to be well-explained to the viewers. STAR Plus conducted a massive on-ground exercise in about six-seven cities, where the consumers were familiarised with the format of the show and the lie-detector technique. The activity was implemented 10 days prior to the launch and will continue till the weekend.

Besides, mass media was employed to announce the arrival of the show. The channel is also employing a PR strategy to build hype around particular episodes featuring celebrities. For instance, the episode featuring cricketer Vinod Kambli, where he is asked a question related to cricketing icon and long-time friend Sachin Tendulkar, was widely written about in the media. "The idea is to keep the buzz going and get people to talk about the show," says Anupam Vasudev, executive vice-president, marketing, STAR India.

The show will have a fair share of celebrities and common people, with more of the latter featuring in the coming episodes. In fact, the first episode featured a lady called Smita Matai. However, according to media observers, having a celebrity on the show will keep the excitement high. "It is more interesting to learn hidden things about people who are known and the curiosity level will be higher," says Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, Havas Media, which is true for almost every reality show.

The average TVR recorded by the show in the week of its launch (on July 15) was 4.3. Media planners rate it as a good start, given the complexity of the format. Manas Mishra, executive vice-president and country head, Mudra Connext, part of Mudra Max, says while the show is interesting, voyeuristic and novel, good PR has definitely helped build curiosity.

"STAR did a very good job creating buzz around celebrity participants on the show. To sustain viewer interest, it will be good to bring in celebrities at various points in time as they are great viewership boosters," he adds.

The average TVRs predicted for the show in the coming weeks is in the range of 2.5-3.5, appealing more to the urban audiences.

While it is a refreshing format, it may hit a few roadblocks. "Even in the west, when the show was launched, there were problems with the nature of the show. The Indian market is more conservative as compared to the west and hence, some of the questions asked might create dissonance among viewers," Nayyar observes.

It already has. STAR Plus has been sent a show cause notice from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry alleging that the show is against the morality of Indian culture and offends decency. The Ministry has given the channel time till 4 pm, July 27 to clarify its stand. The channel officials were not ready to comment on the issue.