As another season of Bigg Boss nears its culmination on a high note, the channel has already geared up with new properties. In a free-wheeling interview, Raj Nayak talks to BestMediaInfo.com on the channel’s growth story, strategy, and plans for the future
Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | January 13, 2016
For about a month, Viacom 18’s flagship channel, Colors, has seen a surge in viewership and ratings. It has sustained its position at the top of Hindi GECs with some really well-accepted shows like ‘Bigg Boss Nau’ and ‘Naagin’ among others. Bigg Boss has held sway for the past three months and more and the time is near for this property to bid adieu. But the channel is all set with another big ticket property, ‘Khatron Ke Khilladi: Kabhi Peeda Kabhi Keeda’, this time actor Arjun Kapoor.
Not only this, the year looks promising with more shows like ‘Krishnadasi’ which is set to replace ‘Bigg Boss Nau’. To strengthen its morning slot, the channel will be launching a popular television character in an animated series called 'Chhoti Anandi’, and the second season of ‘Mission Sapne’. Both these shows start on January 17.
To get more insights, BestMediaInfo spoke to the person who has led the channel to such heights, Raj Nayak, CEO of Colors. He talks about the response to ‘Bigg Boss’ as a property, the channel’s growth prospects, and more. Excerpts:
One of your biggest properties, Bigg Boss 9, is all set to bid adieu. How was the response this year compared to last seasons?
Every season of Bigg Boss brings together a unique set of contestants from different walks of life who, coupled with a set of entertaining tasks, make for a three-month-long entertainment fiesta for viewers. This year, too, the response has been phenomenal.
The number of viewers this year has been similar to previous seasons. This is one show that generates maximum buzz across media with strong views, and that is what makes it a cult show. The highlight this year however was that for the first time in many years we were able to bring two of the biggest stars of Bollywood, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan on one platform! And as the show enters last two weeks, the twists and turns and the entertainment quotient has been very high. Overall it's been a fantastic season for us.
Would you say the new time slot and theme of Bigg Boss helped in terms of viewership?
It was the best strategic decision we made based on our research. It has helped us build the10.30 - 11.30 PM time slot and helped us garner additional reach for the channel. We feel this is the ideal slot for a show like Bigg Boss. We are happy that it worked as we envisaged. We are happy with the outcome.
How do you plan to use the 10:30 PM slot that you created for Bigg Boss?
After Bigg Boss draws to a close on January 23, we will be launching a new fiction show, ‘Krishnadasi’.
How different will the 7th season of ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ be? And what is the reason for taking Arjun Kapoor as the host this year?
This year the theme that we have adopted for ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ is ‘Kabhi Peeda Kabhi Keeda’, which will elevate the level of the stunts with an element of surprise and unpredictability. Keeping in tune with this thought and theme, we roped in Arjun Kapoor as host. His cool and mischievous demeanour along with his popularity with gen next, coupled with the high-adrenalin stunts, create the perfect combination of fun and fear for viewer entertainment. He is an endearing person and even my mother will be able to relate to him. We expect him to bring in the fun quotient along with the serious stuff that goes on in the show. I have seen some rushes and Arjun is rocking!
How are you planning to reshuffle the time bands of your primetime shows?
As I have already said, following the Bigg Boss finale, we will be launching ‘Krishndasi’ at 10:30 PM on weekdays and ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi – Kabhi Peeda Kabhi Keeda’ on weekends. Additionally, we are also launching a first-of-its-kind television extension of a popular character as an animated series called 'Chhoti Anandi’ and the second season of ‘Mission Sapne’. Both these shows start on January 17, Sunday morning at10 AM and 11 AM, respectively. This is our first step to try and create a Sunday morning band.
Colors has taken the numero uno position for the past two-three weeks. How do you plan to sustain this leadership?
Whether we are No. 1 or No. 2, our focus is on the top line and the bottom line. I have said this before, that we play the game to the best of our ability and give it our 100 per cent. The team is extremely passionate and committed. They plan, strategize and execute well. We are focussed on keeping our eye on the ball and don't keep looking at the scoreboard all the time. Yes, when we are ahead of the game it makes all of us happy and boosts the entire team’s morale. It motivates us to challenge ourselves to perform even better and stretch our own limits.
Tell us a little about how ‘Krishndasi’ came about.
The concept of ‘Krishndasi’ is completely in keeping with our programming mantra of presenting differentiated content. The content team liked the story and was convinced that the lead protagonist’s search for her identity would resonate with the viewers and further build appointment viewing for the channel.
‘Balika Vadhu’ has been one of the most successful and longest running shows of Indian television and has crossed many milestones over the years. Now you are planning to launch an animated series on Anandi. Do you think a mainline GEC is ready to accept an animated show on an old theme during prime time?
The nature of this business is such that you have to keep experimenting and reinventing all the time. There is a huge audience that watches animated shows and there is no reason why they should not watch it on a mainline GEC. Unless we try we will never know. Also, from a commercial point of view, animated series have huge potential for syndication and digital.
‘Comedy Nights With Kapil’ seems to have come to an end. What are your plans for the weekend prime time?
‘Comedy Nights’ is a Colors property and will continue. I am really sad to see my friend Kapil go. Together our teams created magic! He is very talented and a nice person. I only hope he has professional managers managing him. As far as the channel is concerned the show will go on (smiles).
You also have ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’. How has the response been, considering it is a new concept for Indian audiences?
It is among the top 2 comedy shows in the country; many times it occupies the No. 1 slot. With ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’, we are giving viewers the opportunity to watch another entertaining, humour-filled show to further brighten up their weekends. And the concept has definitely found appeal among viewers given that the show has received outstanding ratings since its launch. We have tweaked the format and content of the show in a way that it appeals to viewers across age-groups and socio-economic strata. The humour is not crude; every episode is designed such that the jokes do not hurt the sentiments of the viewers and present unadulterated family entertainment. ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’ also recently won an award for the best comedy show on Indian television.
Are you looking at movies too this year like some of your contemporaries?
Movies are part of our programing mix and that will continue. We don't have a movie channel, so our buying will be limited compared to other Hindi GEC networks.
How is your second channel, Rishtey, shaping up?
Rishtey, as a free-to-air channel, has been performing rather well. Within two years of its launch, the channel has become one of the most watched channels among viewers. To give Rishtey viewers a true experience of Colors’ offerings, in 2016 we have planned an entertainment fiesta for viewers showcasing popular Colors dramas on the channel and also simulcast some premiere properties including the ‘Sansui Colors Stardust Awards’ and ‘Chhoti Anandi’.