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Can Bigg Boss alone lead Colors in the long journey to No. 1?

Colors’ Nina Elavia Jaipuria and Manisha Sharma share the road ahead and explain how the reality show can fill all the gaps

(L) Nina Elavia Jaipuria and Manisha Sharma (R)

As Bigg Boss returns to television screens on October 3, Colors’ big bosses are confident that the show will fill both non-primetime and non-fiction gaps and lead the channel to the No. 1 position.

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After the virtual launch of Bigg Boss, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18, and Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18, spoke to BestMediaInfo.com to share the road ahead and how the reality show can fill all the gaps.

Jaipuria said the channel holds the leadership position when it comes to prime-time on television, which means the viewership is very fertile.

“We are perhaps the only channel that has four shows in the top 10 — Chhoti Sarrdaarni, Barrister Babu, Naagin and Shakti..Astitva Ke Ehsaas Kii. We believe we have a significant viewer base that watches a lot of fiction content from Monday to Friday and therefore, the numbers are right up there. What was missing on the channel owing to the pandemic were the non-fiction offerings because of limitations on shooting. With Bigg Boss coming in from Monday to Sunday, seven days a week, we will see a big change in the way the ratings for the channel come through.”

Also read: Why brands turn to Bigg Boss despite being arguably the costliest property

“The show is one of the very few reality shows that is not shot much in advance but is shot in real time with a day's lag. Typically when Bigg Boss is aired on non-prime time hours or the show is repeated right after it ends at 11:30, we see a lot of pick-up in the ratings. Since we already have a fertile prime-time line-up in fiction, a strong non-fiction show will actually help us build the bridge very easily,” she added.

Asked how the channel will compete with Star Plus, one of the leaders in the category, she said the non-prime viewership depends on different aspects while on prime-time both the channels are on a par.

“Non-prime time leadership depends on two aspects — the content library and the shows that are faring. Reruns of Balika Vadhu are also picking up after running for so many years. I don’t think that anyone should get carried away by the fact that there is one channel that has so much lead, because that lead is coming from non-prime time. We are living in a time wherein non-prime time is the new prime-time. Over a period of time, when things start to get normal, the non-prime time will return to a lower threshold. It cannot be sustained at a level it is right now as people are at home and collectively watching as family. In a matter of time, that would change as well,” she said.

Also read: How Bigg Boss will sail through sluggish economy and IPL clash

Bigg Boss along with its viewership and reach is known for its creative brand integrations in the content. Asked how difficult it is to find a balance between the quality of content while making sure the brand is seen through, Sharma said they pay attention to passive branding.

“On a show like Bigg Boss, there are more opportunities to do brand integrations and that’s why you see the kind of sponsorships and brands coming on board. We balance it through various engagements and passive branding so it is not in your face. But with a show like Bigg Boss, which gets noticed by everybody, the brand automatically gets the desired attention. Most of the brands are integrated in the living space or through the tasks so they get noticed. It’s a balance that comes across and gets integrated through content very well,” she added.

Also read: Clash of Bigg Boss and IPL won’t affect each other much, say industry experts

Jaipuria said brands are eager to collaborate despite the current environment and by the time the new season is rolled out, there might be more sponsors on board. “We are very confident and we truly believe the market has the appetite for a high-impact property like Bigg Boss. Brands are waiting to be associated with non-fiction because of its ability to be live, to integrate brands and give out subtle messages. We are delighted that even in an environment which is slightly slow, we already have four sponsors on board. We have Mobile Premier League as the presenting sponsor, Dabur Dant Rakshak Ayurvedic paste and Tresemme as powered by sponsors. We have Ching’s as associate sponsor. We are in the process of closing more as we go along.  I am very confident because last year, we had about 9-10 sponsors on the channel and almost 100 advertisers on board. I don’t see that as a problem because we are already closing 4-6 sponsors even before the show launches,” she said.

Also read: Bigg Boss' ‘Ab scene paltega' campaign isn't aimed at IPL, says Sapangeet Rajwant of Colors

She said the last season of the show was a great success not only in terms of viewership but also monetisation perspective. Last season, they had a carefully balanced male and female ratio, which attracted advertisers. Along with active integrations happening for the Mobile Premier League, they are also planning to introduce a virtual Bigg Boss game, Jaipuria said.

Asked about the expectations on the initial ratings of the show, Jaipuria said it will take at least 10 days for the viewership to settle in. She said as people are curious to know how the show will be carried out under the Covid situation, the viewership will further kick in. “Last year, we managed very successfully because we did two finales in one show. We had one finale right at the beginning in the first three weeks itself. This season also we have actually planned a major twist after two weeks of the show going on air to ensure a spike in viewership that we usually get in the later episodes of Bigg Boss,” she added.

How will the show be carried out in the current situation?

Sharma says they are taking every possible step to ensure everyone is safe and have a backup for each and every team involved with the show. “All the contestants are under quarantine as we speak. The creative team is working in double shifts. The contestants will be going under 15 days mandatory quarantine and will be duly tested before entering the house to create a bubble of sorts for protection. Even the crew members are provided with PPE kits and are working in designated zones to avoid direct contact.  So yes, there is a lot of stress and we are doing whatever it takes to keep everybody safe. We are taking additional measures with weekly tests of the teams and keeping the teams separate, which is an on-going process that we have put into place.”

Also read: Colors launches Bigg Boss 14

“For a show like Bigg Boss where there is constant surveillance and multiple cameras, we have created a complete back-up plan. If the cameramen in the camera gully get affected, we have the remote operating cameras making up for them and recording the content. If anyone still gets infected and even that plan fails, as a last resort, we will provide a camera to contestants to enable them to shoot themselves. So it won't be wrong to say that we have a back-up plan,” she added.

With Bigg Boss coming in, Pavitra Bhagya will be shifted to a different slot and the 9 pm fiction show will be back to five days weekly. After Bigg Boss, another Balaji show will take the 10:30 slot, said Sharma. 

Speaking about how different the season would be in terms of innovation, she said Bigg Boss Dega 2020 Ko Jawab is going to be the central theme and most of the innovations will be around this theme. Former contestants such as Gauhar Khan, Heena Khan and Sidharth Shukla will be a crucial part of this season. As people have missed out on a lot of things during the lockdown, they also want to show contestants enjoying luxuries like theatre, dining and spa.

Asked how she deals with all the controversies around the house, she said with time she has become seasoned. “If a team member calls me for anything severe, my first reaction is to tell them to call me back after an hour. In one hour, things usually simmer down and everyone is in a space where you can come up with a solution. Earlier, I would get calls at 12 in the night or 2 in the morning but in the last few years we have managed to find a method to this madness. So I keep advising myself and the team that whatever happens, we will sail through and that keeps us going,” Sharma said.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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