Prachi Srivastava

KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines

This season, Kaun Banega Crorepati has introduced new lifelines and cut down a question to help the contestant win Rs 7 crore faster.

Kaun Banega Crorepati's place in the history of Indian television is assured. It has done wonders for the channels (Star Plus first, and Sony now) and viewers alike. Fourteen years down the line, the show still commands a loyal fan base, which comes to watch the show - and the redoubtable Amitabh Bachchan - year after year. As its present broadcaster, Sony Entertainment Television readies for the launch of KBC's eighth season on August 17, afaqs! looks at the content innovation in store and the marketing initiatives in the offing.

Lifelines and other changes

While the basic format of the Indian version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' remains the same, the channel has tweaked the content of KBC 8 a bit to keep the audience glued to the show. The introduction of new lifelines sets the tone. Besides the 50:50, phone a friend, expert advice and audience poll lifelines, the channel has brought in 'Code Red', a lifeline that allows the participant's family member or friend (sitting in the audience) say when they feel the contestant should quit the show, by pressing a buzzer placed in front.

KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
The expert advice lifeline has been converted to a panel of three wise men, called Triguni, seated in the audience. Upon being called, the three will give the correct answer along with interesting trivia around the question.

The show will promote 'Unity' among communities this season and has introduced another helpline wherein a contestant can call a set of people to get the question answered. "We are coming closer to the audience. The content, the emotional tonality of the content is much more this season," says Nachiket Pantvaidya, senior EVP and business head of the channel.

KBC 8 is not restricted to Mumbai's studios and is travelling outside the city. Sony has planned four events in four cities. The first event that took place in Surat recently will be the launch episode of the show (August 17) and showcases Kapil Sharma (of 'Comedy Nights with Kapil' fame) as the host.

The first episode will also see the famous Shillong Choir giving a heart-warming performance. KBC 8's first TVC talked about the discrimination towards North-Easterners and including the Shillong Choir at the event extends the idea of reaching out to communities.

KBC 8 has moved to weekday slot as compared to weekends in the previous season. It will now air Monday to Thursday at 8.30 pm through 52 episodes. The prize money continues to be Rs 7 crore but the number of questions has come down to 14 from 15. The show will continue to be produced by Siddharth Basu's Big Synergy.

Marketing blitz

The first TVC of the KBC 8 ad campaign hit TV screens on July 8. The 'Kohima' TVC was followed by the 'Hindu-Muslim' and 'Community' TVCs. Bound around the thought of 'yahan sirf paise nahi Dil bhi jeete jaate hain', the TVCs have garnered many accolades. KBC's creative agency is Leo Burnett.

There are around 10,000 ad spots of these TVCs running on over 45 TV channels, including the MSM network channels. The channel has taken spots on news, music and regional genres to reach out to its TG. The show is also being promoted in 15 cities through 2,000 OOH sites. The cities are Mumbai, Delhi and select ones in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Sony has a 24-city radio plan including an innovation with Radio Mirchi, starting from launch day. On the day of the launch there will be print insertions in 20-25 key publications across Hindi, English and regional languages. According to Gaurav Seth, marketing head, the channel is using digital as a frequency-building medium. Sony has launched an app called KBC Play Along by which a viewer can play the game on his mobile and stand a chance to meet Bachchan on the sets of KBC.

Besides, there is a 'video of the week' on the show's webpage ( - a player needs to answer the question related to the video and win merchandise like autographed mugs and Bachchan's autobiography. There is also a KBC game to engage with the audiences online.

Taking the marketing efforts up a notch, the channel has launched a 100-city on-ground activity. "We are promoting this activity through radio, telling people they should participate because KBC has come to their city. After the written test, the selected ones will play fastest finger first. The winner then will get to play the show with Mr Bachchan, who will ask questions on screen. Ten lucky winners will be taken to Mumbai to play in the wild card entry round," explains Seth.

There's money but...

According to Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, licensing and telephony, Multi Screen Media, advertisers have been supportive this year as in previous years. Cadbury remains the presenting sponsor while Idea continues to be the 'powered by' sponsor. Samsung, Maruti Suzuki, TVS, and Cisca LED are the associate sponsors this year. Sony is looking at getting two more associate sponsors on board. Quickheal is the technology partner.

KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
KBC 8: A Question of Lifelines
According to sources in the industry, presenting sponsor and powered by sponsor shelled around Rs 12-17 crore on the property. The associate sponsors invested around Rs 7-9 crore. And then there are the ads. Gupta says that the ad rates for 10-second ad slots are similar to the previous season (around Rs 2.5-3 lakh). All that is fine, but has KBC stagnated?

The show does not really see a significant growth in viewership anymore. The show in its last season witnessed an average rating of 4403 TVTs (Source: TAM data provided by the channel; Market - HSM, C&S, 4+). Experts like Manas Mishra, senior media professional and ex-president, Initiative Media India, feel there is a need to reinvent KBC. "The show," he explains, "is coming back against a backdrop of a gap in expectation vs delivery last season. The idea is to innovate to keep audiences intrigued."

PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media is of the view that the show and Bachchan have not lost flavour. "Going forward, unless the channel does something really innovative with the format, it will not see the spike in the interest level of the audiences. It's a good idea to shift it to weekdays to tap a larger viewer base," he says.

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