On day 45 of its launch, Viacom18's Colors Infinity wants to push forward its network's 'disruptive' mantra and cater to a space that has been largely unexplored. The channel will soon launch a music talent hunt show called 'The Stage'. The 20-episoder non-fiction show is already under production, and will air on weekends at 9 pm, starting October 10.
The channel says this is the first show among many other local productions planned. It's being looked at as an across-the-platform property with TV being just one part. The model is to identify talent, back them up with grooming and training, showcase and select winners, and look after their entire journey beyond winning.
The winner gets a recording contract with Universal Music India. With an aim to export this talent internationally, the deal is one that ensures a global release of the 'first single'. This will also include ground events and gigs with the winners, propelled towards giving the property a life of its own.
The contestants are mix of amateurs and semi-professionals who are part of bands. They will sing covers of international tracks on the show.
On the reason behind launching a talent hunt show, Palia says, "English music is consumed very heavily across the country. It may be perceived as niche, but that's the one genre that is consumed across heartlands and metros alike. 60 to 65 per cent viewership on VH1 is from outside the metros now and, in terms of contestants, we have people beyond Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru; there are contestants from North East, UP and the South. Almost every single network in the US has a big reality show. Once this format goes on air, it will just expand the audience base."
The show will be produced by SOL, a Mumbai-based production house that specialises in non-fiction programming and events.
Renault is already on board as title sponsor and, according to the channel, has bought into the whole 'premise' of the property, not just the TV show. 'The Stage' also has Truly Madly as the powered by sponsor.
The show has four judges - composer Vishal Dadlani, a regular on the judging scene on Hindi GECs, Monica Dogra, Shaa'ir and Func's lead singer, composer Ehsaan Noorani, also the technical expert on the show, and Devraj Sanyal, head of Universal Music India, who will bring in the 'talent-honing and career perspective'.
The channel claims that the judges will be forthright and that there will be no 'good bad guy presets'. There will be no audience voting so as to avoid individuals getting eliminated due to lack of popularity.
Will the production values and scale match those of the international shows which audiences have been watching? Palia says, "We can't match up completely to the standards and scale of international shows, as their budgets are multi-fold, but we believe that viewers do not necessarily look at production scale, as there are big expensive shows that can fail because of content."
He does add that it's always more expensive to produce locally than acquire international content, but believes that the time is right for local programming in English, because of an increasing audience base.
The channel may look at syndication and other music-related shows as well as fiction formats, eventually.