Benita Chacko

Brands are seeking holistic solutions over traditional TV and digital silos: Viacom18's Pavithra KR

The network will be offering Bigg Boss 17 as a platform-agnostic show, selling both television and OTT slots together. 

"You can love me, or hate me. But you can't ignore me." Although this quote is popularly attributed to actor Shah Rukh Khan, it holds equally true for the reality TV show Bigg Boss. Regardless of whether one is a fan of the show or not, everyone knows what's happening in the show. Social media memes and reels ensure that everyone stays updated. 

With the next season of Bigg Boss scheduled to begin next month, it is anticipated to draw in 400 million viewers (including both TV and digital) and attract 20% more brands. This will be possible as it is streaming on JioCinema this time and it will be streaming the show for free.  

Pavithra KR, head of revenue, Colors, Viacom18, says the free streaming will boost the show's reach, making it more attractive for brands.

"The additional reach with OTT will help us reach many more consumers. If there was an FMCG brand that didn't consider the show earlier because it wasn't targeting all the cities of the country. Now they would think otherwise," she says.

According to BARC data, Bigg Boss 16 reached 180 million viewers on television and 20 million on OTT. However, up until that point, the show was streaming on Voot behind a paywall. With Voot merging into JioCinema in August 2023, the show will now be streaming for free on the latter platform. Bigg Boss OTT is said to have 100 million viewers. The show's digital reach this season is projected to be around 150-200 million. Consequently, the added reach will lead to an increase in ad rates for the show.

"We work very closely with our clients because entry cost on the show varies depending on the brief and what it wants to do with the show and what it wants to do on social. So depending on the legs that we add to the proposal, the costing also changes," she says.

The network will offer the property's upcoming season as a platform-agnostic show, selling both television and OTT slots together. 

"Nobody is looking at TV and digital alone anymore. Everybody is looking at 360-degree solutions. And we offer that holistic approach. Our solutions cut across television, social, on-ground, digital," she says.

For instance, if it's a brand launch, the integration occurs on television and is also showcased on OTT. If the goal is to drive the audience to an app, it will be primarily through OTT. "So, the solves are across. They flow into one another depending on what we need to solve for," she explains.

The show's format makes it a great platform for brand integrations. Celebrities are locked together in a house for over three months, spanning 107-plus episodes. Their lives are on display, offering numerous opportunities for brands to showcase their offerings. The show offers customised solutions for brands across various categories. Between 2019 to 2022, it has partnered with over 400 brands. This year, it is approaching a lot of D2C brands, particularly first-time advertisers.

However, to ensure product exclusivity, Bigg Boss associates with only one brand per category. "Also we don't want to confuse our consumers. There are categories where we have a lot of competition. For example, automobile, FMCG, and consumer durables. So it's finally about who approaches us first and who is willing to pay the right price for the property," she says.

Short clips from the show often go viral on social media. In 2022, several of the contestants were also social media influencers. Even the contestant's teams share visuals from within the house. This provides additional opportunity for brands to extend their reach beyond the 107 episodes. "We work with celebrities and influencers to create engaging social media content. This includes interesting videos featuring contestants and protagonists that promote contests, taglines, and more. Entry and exit interviews are also crafted for virality," she adds.

The show shares a symbiotic relationship with the influencers, as they  bring their fans and followers to the show, which, in turn, boosts their own popularity. For instance, last season's winner MC Stan entered the show with 1 million Instagram followers and left with 11 million followers. 

Launched in 2006, Bigg Boss has become an immensely popular property.. It has now been launched in several regional languages, including Kannada, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Malayalam. 

Viacom18 has also launched Bigg Boss OTT, which is exclusively streamed on JioCinema. The second season of the show recently concluded in August 2023. Is there such a thing as too much Bigg Boss? 

Pavithra says each edition of Bigg Boss has a different story. "The Bigg Boss Hindi is the biggest one by far. It has a different story and operates in a different way. Compared to the OTT edition this is much bigger," she says.

As the festive season approaches, the show can capitalise on increased ad spending of brands. However, this time it will have to face competition from the ICC World Cup for advertiser's attention. Pavithra remains confident that Bigg Boss will continue to attract  brands due to its exceptional offering of seamless brand integration within the show.

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