Anirban Roy Choudhury

"Advertisers punt on Colors' experiments:" Raj Nayak

'India Banega Manch', Colors' adaptation of Israeli format 'Win The Crowd', will go live on May 7, 2017.

Not long back, there was a debate spurring up in the General Entertainment Channels (GEC) fraternity, "How real are the reality shows?" Colors, in the last couple of months, changed the argument to, "Have reality shows ever been so real before?" (in the Indian context). February beginning... Viacom18's GEC launched 'Rising Stars', a show where the performance was analysed by the audience through live voting through the Colors app.

"Advertisers punt on Colors' experiments:" Raj Nayak
Cut to May 7, 2017... the channel is set to launch 'India Banega Manch', an adaptation of Studio Glam created Israeli format 'Win the crowd'. The show won't have a stage or judges, the performers, through their talent, need to grab the attention of people passing by in a busy location and the one who manages to get the maximum attention in a particular location, sits in the 'Jeet ki seat'. The show is produced by BBC Worldwide Entertainment and will be on air every Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 PM on Colors.

Experimentation is necessary...

"Advertisers punt on Colors' experiments:" Raj Nayak
"What we always try to do is offer a wide variety to the viewers who are becoming very discerning. The game is different now; you will have to keep throwing something different to them all the time. This, 'India Banega Manch' is another such initiative. At the end of the day, we want to attract as many eyeballs as we want," says Raj Nayak, chief executive officer, Colors.

The experimentation keeps the internal team going too, "The creative team gets bored doing the same thing again and again. You have to keep challenging their creativity. This is difficult and has never been done in India... the team will respond saying we will pull it off and that is the adrenaline rush you need to keep going," he adds.

Challenges and learnings...

"Doing 'Rising Stars' was not an easy decision at all, just imagine the screen going blank in the middle of the show. We were shooting during the day and showing at night. There were odds against us, but sometimes you need to go by your instincts and have the self-belief that you will be able to pull it off," asserts Nayak.

There are multiple production challenges too, that such an experiment faces, "The first shoot of India Banega Manch happened at Juhu beach. The cameras we were using melted because of the scorching sun. Then we had to bring in special cameras for outdoor," he informs.

The challenges are not limited to equipment only, "We had permission to shoot for a particular period of time and the shoot got stretched. People weren't moving. We were in Delhi and the temperature clicked 45 degrees, Calcutta (Kolkata) it rained... these are learnings that we can only attain once we try something. Next time, we will apply these learnings during execution," he adds.

"We had to put 12 hidden cameras. That was also a very challenging aspect. Where do you put them in a public place? Another thing that was always on our mind was that what if there isn't a crowd? We weren't announcing beforehand that we are doing something on this day at this place. So, there were many challenges, but at the end of the day, I have seen one episode and it is looking good," says Nayak.

Monetising an experiment without data...

"Advertisers go wherever the eyeball is," true, but for an experiment like 'Rising Stars' or 'India Banega Manch', there is no excel sheet confidence for the advertisers... like what is probably there for 'Naagin'. "Smiles... Advertisers stay away also because of what we charge for 'Naagin'..." "See, advertisers punt on our experiments, and they punt on us because Colors as a brand, if we have taken up something, we have delivered," he adds.

Oppo camera phone has partnered Colors as presenting sponsor of the show, "Oppo had also backed us for 'Rising Stars' and advertisers back an experiment for their benefit too. Say tomorrow, I would charge '50' because you are coming today I am giving you for '40'. Now next year, when the show has worked and delivered, you get the first right to refusal and your base price is 40, so it would be 40 plus something."

"Any new non-fiction show we launch in the first year, we won't make money. It is by the third year that we break even and then we make a profit. This is the way the business is at this stage."

Launching bang in the middle of IPL...

GEC numbers do go down while the IPL is on. We are already seeing Sony Max topping across genre chart, "And we are launching our show bang in the middle of IPL. See, there is a set of the audience which doesn't watch IPL, if I can get the majority of that audience, I can at times deliver better than IPL," says Nayak.

He adds, "IPL will be there every year, I cannot shut my operations because of that, and all advertisers cannot be on IPL because the ticket size is very high. So we are clear, we have our inventory sold out, we have a great idea, why wait for the IPL to get over?"

Star's afternoon programming move is a bold one...

Recently Star India's GEC, Star Plus, launched four new shows in the afternoon band and Nayak considers it to be a bold move. "That's the role of a leader, it is a bold move and they are investing heavily on the afternoon band. These are not cheap shows which they have launched," he asserts.

He believes TV is going to rule for the next decade, "For the simple reason that we are 180 million TV households today and the number needs to go to 250, there is a huge headroom there. It depends on how we broadcasters get the audience with our content," says he.

He is also of the opinion that the TV household rating will be far more accurate than individual ratings, "I firmly believe that TV household ratings will be far more accurate than individual ratings. When you have 94 percent single TV households in the universe, are you seriously telling me that you can measure a male watching, a female watching or a two year old kid watching?" he concludes.

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