ZTL gambles on lottery

By , agencyfaqs! | In | March 14, 2002
By telecasting the live results of Super Lotto, Zee TV ushers in a new genre of programming, but will it succeed?

It's a genre that has a lot of potential. But whose success will be directly proportional to the hype created around it, and the quality of programming.

On March 29, Zee TV will broadcast the inaugural draw of 'Super Lotto,' in Gangtok, Sikkim. After that, the television channel will broadcast the weekly draws of the programme. To create awareness, a super jackpot prize of Rs 2 crore is being offered by Playwin Infravest, the Rs 300-crore lottery venture, promoted by Subhash Chandra and Essel Group.

If done well, there is no reason why the genre should not take off in India, in the same way that it has in the West, where entire channels run on lotteries, and stars on lottery shows reach the iconic heights reserved for pop stars and VJs over here. The size of the online lottery industry worldwide is estimated at $125 billion with a growth rate of 1 to 4 per cent.

What can make the crucial difference for Zee is marketing. Right now, with lotteries banned in several Indian states, the danger is that marketing the show may become an exercise in proving that the genre has nothing unethical about it. On the other hand, with lotteries almost a virgin territory, a well-promoted and slick presentation can actually help Zee forge a quick bond with the consumer.

Zee has quite a few things working in its favour. One, after the end of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) on STAR Plus, no television programme has really created the kind of mass hysteria that KBC did. Two, most of the new shows, on both the rivals - Sony and STAR - have just about managed modest success. And KBC, in its own way, showed the kind of audience pull that could be created using a mixture of big money, hype, and a star. And three, the genre itself is not absolutely new in the country. Jain TV has been telecasting live draws of the Arunachal Pradesh lottery in the 3.00-3.30 pm slot daily, and there were a couple of attempts last year to start a lottery channel - one of them named Southern Spice.

One major reason for the successes of lottery channels worldwide has been the amount of hype that has surrounded the event. Right now, for Playwin Infravest, the hype has been surprisingly limited - a few billboards, hardly any newspaper reporting, or television spots. And yet, the idea has raised a lot of interest - at least initially. Inquiries by agencyfaqs! at lottery outlets in Mumbai indicate that the idea has won quite a few takers. It remains to be seen how much of that interest is curiosity.

A lot will depend on how Playwin Infravest handles the show. "Will people want to buy the tickets and become millionaires? Yes. Will people want to watch others become millionaires? No, unless the show is well handled," points out Amit Ray, executive vice-president (media), Mudra. There will be hype, as Zee officials point out, but that alone will not be enough. "Hype will bring in an audience, especially since the market for lotteries is huge. But in the end, the show will succeed or fail depending on the quality of programming," warns Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media.

The challenges are many. At the end of the day, say analysts, what will count is how dramatic the programme will be. KBC was not about people winning money alone - a host of programmes from rival channels that mistakenly took that to be the USP of KBC lost out. "A mere game of chance lacks intrinsic drama. What will decide the success of the show is how far Zee is able to draw in the audience," says Ray.

Shripad Kulkarni, managing director, M:Ideas Media Services, a Mumbai-based media consultancy firm, sums up the task ahead for Zee. "There is every chance that the show will work. But crucial to the success of the show will be how credible the show is, how Zee adapts the show in the early stages if things do not work out as planned, and how Zee communicates with the audience." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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