As Viacom18 has opted for integrated sponsorships rather than separate deals for TV and digital for the upcoming Bigg Boss season, industry leaders emphasised that this combined approach offers brands the best of both worlds, leveraging the show's growing viewership on TV and OTT. They believe that Viacom18's platform-agnostic integration ensures a seamless transition between platforms, making it a win-win for advertisers seeking comprehensive reach and engagement.
On the other hand, some industry players advocated for separate sponsorship strategies, recognising that the profile of the audience watching content online versus offline is very different today.
In its 17th season and with actor Salman Khan as the host, celebrities staying together in the house for more than 3.5 months spread across 107 plus episodes, and a 7-days a week 10:00 pm broadcast slot, Bigg Boss is set to go on air on Viacom18’s Hindi GEC Colors starting mid-October 2023.
Viacom18 has no plans to sell digital and TV separately to the brands for Bigg Boss and hence, are not breaking up the sponsorships between the two mediums. But both digital and TV take the lead over each other depending on the advertisers’ requirements.
Viacom18's integrated sponsorship approach for brands
Explaining the proposition, Pavithra KR, Revenue Head - Colors, Viacom18, said, “If a brand wants awareness and reach, then television takes the lead on that integration. However, if a brand wants engagement and interactivity, then maybe the OTT piece will take the lead. But we always build integrations such that it's platform agnostic and platform fluid. It flows from one platform into the other. We are selling the show and not a particular medium.”
Sharing his views on the same, Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said that with a combined sponsorship, brands and advertisers get the best of both worlds. Furthermore, OTT viewership has seen a significant surge, especially in the post-COVID-19 era, and advertisers cannot afford to overlook advertising on the platform.
“Today, with the number of cord cutters and cord shavers growing, OTT especially connected through TVs, helps in adding incremental reach. An integrated approach also safeguards a brand’s interest and shields competition from being present on an alternate platform. Viewership of bigg boss both on TV and OTT has been growing over the years and it’s only in the best interest of advertisers to be present on both platforms,” Srivastava added.
Anita Nayyar, COO of Media, Branding, and Communications at Patanjali Ayurved, said that it entirely depends on the brand's requirements, budgets, audience availability, and the use of digital ads to achieve incremental reach. Therefore, a combination of approaches works well. Nevertheless, when targeting a younger audience in the digital realm, a digital-centric strategy often proves to be more efficient.
On the other hand, Dhiraj Khanna, Associate Vice-President and Cluster Head - Project Management, DDB Mudra Group believes that the profile of the audience watching content online versus offline is very different today. Trading the sponsorship for TV and digital should be separate.
“If we take the example of the last season of Master Chef on Sony LIV and Sony TV, they had different sponsors for online and offline while the title and co-presenting sponsors were the same on both platforms, the associate sponsors were different. Also, Bosch Appliances had no visibility on television for this year’s MasterChef but had decent visibility on Sony LIV. Bosch was very clear that they did not want to cater to the masses and therefore on Sony LIV they were able to reach out to the right set of niche audiences,” Khanna said.
Ad rates for the show
Srivastava said, “We see from the market sources, rates settling around 8% to 10% higher than last year. For sponsorship deals or spot buys, what we understood from the market is that the ad rates for weekdays and weekends would be the same.”
Speaking about the current sponsorship rates for the show, he said that Bigg Boss has been one of the top-rated shows on TV over the years with average ratings of more than 1.0 in the Hindi-speaking market (HSM) (U+R).
“In the Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) target group (TG), the average rating of Bigg Boss season 16 was around 1.2 and the season was able to reach out to an audience of close to 15 million in MSIL TG – 22-40 males NCCS A,” Srivastava said.
“Being a top-rated show, the TV rates have also been on the higher side over the years but we have seen that brands willingly pay a premium given the reach and impact of the show. The current market rates for sponsorship (co-presenting) on Bigg Boss (TV+OTT) would be in the range of Rs 35 crore+ and given the fact that brands can be present over a period of four months across 107 episodes, advertisers should be able to justify the ROI on the investment as well. At the end of the day, investments should be able to drive a certain ROI,” he added.
According to Nayyar, the rates have only gone up and the same trend follows across popular formats.
Free Bigg Boss streaming on JioCinema and its influence on viewership, sponsorship
Unlike previous seasons where Bigg Boss was behind the paywall on Voot, now it is available for free on JioCinema. Marketers shed light on this change and the way it will influence viewership and sponsorships for the show.
Srivastava believes that JioCinema has been a trendsetter in the OTT space by moving premium content outside of the paywall and making it free for consumers.
“Reports suggest that IPL on OTT reached 450 million viewers, Bigg Boss OTT season 2 witnessed 40% growth in viewership numbers vis-a-vis the last season which is brilliant for advertisers as well. It ensures high reach and a better impact on brand communications. Season 17 of Bigg Boss Hindi should witness growth in viewership numbers as we have seen with IPL and Bigg Boss OTT season 2,” he added.
Echoing the same sentiments, Nayyar emphasised that a comparable situation occurred during the IPL. The availability of free content attracts a larger audience without paywall barriers, making it easier for viewers to access, ultimately resulting in higher viewership.
Khanna said, "Big Boss as a show holds a lot of popularity among all sets of age groups and different profiles of audience. The audience anxiously waits for the last quarter of the year to watch the new season of Big Boss. Free streaming on JioCinema as well as reaching out to various profiles of audiences basis data consumption – CCTV for affluent/niche audience, different pixel viewing starring from 4K to the the lowest version is the sizable game here," he added.
What makes Bigg Boss an appealing property for advertisers?
Pavithra shared that the reality show is already garnering a lot of interest from advertisers as the channel offers category exclusivity.
She commented, “For example, in the beverage category, we take only one brand. In the soap category, we take only one brand. Like this, we have multiple brands vying for that one slot. In the makeup and automobile category, we are already having conversations with two to three advertisers. It's really about who moves the fastest to grab that sponsorship.”
Last year, Bigg Boss had over 300 advertisers and this year, the number of advertisers will only increase, stated Pavithra.
Along with the usual FMCG, consumer durables, personal care divisions, automobile, handsets, telecom industry, etc., Colors has also onboarded BFSI and tech-innovations brands, Pavithra told BestMediaInfo.com.
According to Pavithra, Bigg Boss also acts as an excellent platform for product launches.
She explained, “We launched ITC Dark Fantasy Biscuits and Hyundai Nios inside the house last year. Our show lends itself beautifully to brand launches and engagements. We were able to drive massive engagement to MyGlamm’s app last year through contests and voting. We have brand solutions for brands across various life stages.”
She also pointed out that brand integrations in the show are seamless without disrupting the audience’s content experience. She said, “We ensure that whatever we do for our brands, they become the narrative of the story. Brand integrations are so beautifully and organically built into the show that it's never intrusive.”
According to Nayyar, viewers are consistently drawn in by the fresh elements introduced each season, the selection of contestants and the significant influence of Salman Khan.
Srivastava believes that one of the prime reasons is, with its massive spread over multiple months it lends immense opportunity for brands to interact via multiple forms of in-show integration of activities.
“In today’s cluttered world, where brands are vying for an opportunity to capture consumer’s mind-space, the show helps in seamless integrations, placements and branded content in various forms. Also, despite being a scripted reality show, it still helps break through the clutter,” Srivastava said.
“Further, the show mandates repeated viewership owing to the format it operates. Thus, this loyal viewership only helps brands build on their associations better, leaving lasting impressions. Thus the ROI is generally 2X – 5X of media value. While there is always a threat that repeatability will impact the show’s traction, in my view the show has maintained and continuously evolved in terms of breaking patterns and keeping consumers involved – be it multiple room conversations, hosts entering the Bigg Boss house on weekends, etc,” he added.
Khanna pointed out that advertisers find a lot of potential benefits in watching Bigg Boss, mainly entertainment and relaxation. He emphasised that the show is designed to entertain and provide a form of escapism. They can offer a light-hearted way to relax and unwind after a long day. Some key benefits are: Bigg Boss has a long life and showbiz value of around 100+ episodes, it provides smooth content integration and memorable associations including the 'Vodafone caller of the week' and 'Appy Fizz Zone', Garnier face wash, Clean and Dry and Maruti Suzuki Swift.
An equally important property for brands to advertise during the festive period, the World Cup, will be held between October 5, 2023, to November 19, 2023. This will have some overlap with Bigg Boss too going on air during the same period.
Answering the question about whether the World Cup would have any impact on the ad revenue of Bigg Boss season 17, Pavithra said, “Big Boss has survived with and without cricket. This time around, there are only six to seven India matches that overlap. Those 6-7 matches will start at 2.30 pm and get over before the Big Boss starts. We have no fear in terms of show timings and viewership. When it comes to comparing brand solutions offered by Cricket versus Bigg Boss, the possibilities of brand integrations in Bigg Boss are more than any cricket property. It’s difficult to do brand integrations in most sports properties. Any brand can find a space inside the show, active or passive. And it's constantly and repeatedly done over a period of 100 plus days.”
Srivastava pointed out that while the World Cup is a marquee event and this time being in India, the scale is bound to be even more grandeur with Indians being cricket frenzy. However, if we look at the schedule, most of the matches are starting around 2:00 pm IST in the afternoon and hence are likely to be over by 9:30-10 pm.
He said that Bigg Boss starts around 10 pm and the loyal Bigg Boss viewers would tune in. Hence, the ratings of the show might not be affected to a great extent. So, the timing of the show and the multiple opportunities it provides for marketing interventions along with the loyalty the show commands, makes it a winning proposition for advertisers to choose.
Nayyar believes that the World Cup is a different ball game. Brands typically plan budgets well in advance for such events given it happens once in four years. On the other hand, Bigg Boss will continue across the years. So, the choices depend on brand requirements and budgets available.