In its 16th season now, the Viacom18 show still attracts a host of brands and is among the most expensive properties to advertise on television.
“Pooja, what is this behaviour?” “Tuada Kutta Tommy Sada Kutta Kutta” “Talk to my hand.” These are all too familiar lines today. And one may not have watched Bigg Boss, where these lines were uttered first, yet may be well aware of its context. That really surmises the popularity of the reality show. Though it started as a television show in 2006 and is now available on OTT as well, its popularity soared on social media through its viral memes and videos.
In its 16th season now, the show still attracts a host of brands and is among the most expensive properties to advertise on television.
According to Pavithra KR, head - revenue, Colors, Viacom18, this is because the show offers customised solutions for brands across categories.
"There is no show like Bigg Boss that lends itself so well for interactivity with brands. It drives deep engagement through at least 107 days of the year. Be it a personal care brand or a short video app we find a solution for every category. These are platform-agnostic - TV, OTT or social media. It is one of the most expensive shows in the GEC space. There is a certain premium that one pays to be associated with the show," she says.
Paritosh Joshi, an independent media and communication consultant, says brands are always looking for scripted reality as a good way of breaking through clutter.
“In the last decade, the huge number of brands that compete for the consumer have made integrations, placements and branded content in various forms a marketing imperative. They need ways to break through the clutter. With in-content placements there is no other competitor. It is not in a commercial break. People can’t tune out of it as the brand communication happens during the actual story,” he says.
Joshi says the stickiness of the show also makes it an ideal platform for brands that have a complex messaging.
“The format demands repeated viewership. There's a high proportion of loyal users. That enables advertisers to deal with different facets of the brand they are promoting. For example, they want to show a product in use and describe its features. If done in one shot it will look like a brand documentary. But on the show it can be done over four episodes,” he explains.
This year the show has roped in TRESemme, Chings, MyGlamm, Priyagold Hunk, L’Oreal, Hershey’s India, Samsung and Happilo as its sponsors. These brands have been integrated in the show in some interesting ways.
The show has onboarded MyGlamm as its makeup partner this year. At the end of the season, a contestant will be declared the ‘Face of the Season’ and will get a chance to be featured in its next TVC with actress Shraddha Kapoor.
In a recently issued press release, Sukhleen Aneja, CEO, Beauty and FMCG brands, The Good Glamm Group, stated, “...Bigg Boss is the IPL of entertainment. As the official make-up partners of Bigg Boss Season 16, MyGlamm wants to inspire viewers with the latest trends in make-up through our range of new age innovative make-up products! Bigg Boss allows us to make MyGlamm a household name across the country especially as we service over 20,000 PIN codes in India via our MyGlamm app..."
For its collaboration with Dark Fantasy and Licious, it has opened a ‘Greed Corner’. “Bigg Boss is a lot about food and the lack of it. So to gamify it we open this corner as and when we feel we can deliver something exciting to the contestants. For example, it may suddenly open up to satisfy all the fantasies of the contestants by offering dark chocolate biscuits. Or it can open up and offer chicken wings from Licious,” says Pavithra.
Similarly, TRESemme offers hair spa to the contestants.
According to industry sources, a 10-second ad spot on the show costs around Rs 3 lakh.
"Bigg Boss is one of the highest-rated reality television shows and has the maximum reach. It sets the tone for the channel and brings a lot of these brands onto the channel. The very nature of BB allows us to integrate brand engagements that are well and truly beyond any other content on Indian television. These brands then stay on to advertise on our other fiction shows as well. The show's fan-following is such that it sells itself year after year," she adds.
Bigg Boss’ popularity among the audience lies in its ability to allow viewers to satisfy their voyeuristic urge with legitimacy. The same urge that makes many want to stop by on the road to watch two drivers argue over an accident.
As these contestants scream, argue, or patiently deal through various situations when put in a house for a long duration can be cathartic for the viewers, says Joshi.
“The platform takes voyeurism to a massive programming format. The reality is people are fundamentally voyeurs. Society expects us to live moderately. But through this content people can live vicariously. They can give free play to their repressed emotions and deal with human frailties like anger, jealousy, lust,” he says.
But does this nature of the content raise concerns among advertisers? Linu John, vice president, Zenith, says brands have expressed reservations due to the kind of content the properties represent.
“There are some brands in the industry which completely refrain from considering the show,” she says.
When a show has been on-air for so many years, the audience may tire of it. After a point, the familiarity may lead to monotony.
Joshi says television shows need to keep ‘recruiting’ new viewers season after season. “The same story can be told repeatedly, but it needs to be done differently. One needs to find the correct contemporary verbal vocabulary,” he says.
The show keeps attempting something different every three years to keep the audience entertained.
"We break patterns and change the grammar of the show, otherwise the predictability gets too monotonous for the audience and even the contenders behave in a certain manner as they know what gets more eyeballs," she says.
It has brought in several changes in this season as well. Now there are four bedrooms instead of one to create more conversations. The house is more compact leading to more uncomfortable situations. The weekend episodes with Salman Khan are now on Friday-Saturday and he enters the house instead of being behind a screen. The Sunday episodes are live and there's a third anchor who brings in information from the outside world.
Adapted from the international show Big Brother, today Bigg Boss is created in multiple languages, including Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi, across various platforms. However, Pavithra says that it does not cannibalise the Hindi Bigg Boss audience.
"Each of the languages are in very different markets and there is no overlap there," she says.
Last year, a separate Bigg Boss was launched on OTT with Karan Johar as its host. However, Voot has discontinued it this year and only the television show streams on the platform. "The TV show is so large that we may as well capitalise on that," she says.
Pavithra says the OTT viewing is adjacent to the television. "We see the audience moving in and out of these platforms. Those who watch the show on TV and want to dive deeper, experience it on OTT. OTT complements television. It is not TV vs OTT, but TV plus OTT. All of our shows are now platform-agnostic," she says.
Linu says due to the nature of the content, there is an upsurge in the show’s consumption on Voot. “Bigg Boss is a household show for a section of audience and has a regular following. Since there are limitations to watching this kind of content in single TV households, the consumption on Voot has seen an upsurge,” she adds.