‘Bigg Boss sponsors see value…’

06 Sep,2018


On Monday, Colors announced that Season 12 of its mega-show Bigg Boss will premiere on September 16 (at 9pm) and subsequent episodes will be aired at 10.30pm on weekdays and at 9pm on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). The theme for this year’s edition is ‘Iss bar aa rahi hai interesting Jodi’. Assorted couple jodis will battle it out to survive 100 days under the constant glare of multiple cameras and host Salman Khan’s supervision. At the press conference held in Goa, presenting sponsor Parle Agro’s Joint MD and CMO Nadia Chauhan and Will Yang, Brand Director of Oppo India were present along with Colors programming head Manisha Sharma, Non-fiction head Shital Iyer and Abhishek Rege, CEO, Endemol Shine and of  course the host and actor Salman Khan, amongst others. Let’s hear more on the 12th season of Bigg Boss from Raj Nayak, COO, Viacom18 in this exclusive interview…


It’s the 12th edition of Bigg Boss, the 11th on Colors and the eighth since you’ve been helming Colors… tell us a bit about the journey the show has taken. From then to now?

From being an all-celebrity show to the common man being able to get into the house has been the biggest transition. In hindsight, it looks like a no-brainer but it was also a huge risk ‘cause there were certain expectations. The question everyone asked was who wants to watch a commoner? Thankfully, it worked for us big-time and has broadbased our reach.


So are there things that you would do then and you don’t do now… what exactly have been the learnings from each edition?

Bigg Boss is a format and certain things are constant… the fact that we keep reinventing with every season means that we learn from our previous seasons and experiment with the current season. The biggest task for our creative team is to decide on the theme and once that is done, to get the casting right. This is the complete reality and nothing is scripted, so it is that much more important to get the casting right. The show hinges mainly on the contestants with interventions through tasks by the creative team.


Perhaps an unfair ask: but how much of the success of Bigg Boss would you attribute to the presence of Salman Khan?

The fact that we have continued with Salman Khan for the last nine years demonstrates that we see him as a valuable asset to the show. I think Bigg Boss is tailormade for him. He has a knack with the way he deals with the contestants, he does his own improvisation on the sets and, most importantly, he is  emotionally and mentally invested in the show. Our viewers, our advertisers love him and so does our entire team.


Every year, we see a new high in the risqué department. For instance, last year, one remembers two inmates in intimate moments and whenever such a scene was aired, there was an advertisement of a contraceptive in the form of a super? Are there concerted efforts made to effect these to drive viewership or it’s just that it happens given the kind of inmates you have?

Actually it’s the other way around. We see Bigg Boss as a Parivarik (family) show. We made that switch a couple of years ago… if we want to cast the net wide, then in primetime you want the whole family watching it. Salman Khan’s appeal cuts across all age groups. So it is important for us to ensure that the show is inclusive of everyone. Besides, as a responsible broadcaster, we have strict Standards & Practices, headed by our legal team, that goes through every inch of footage to ensure that we also follow the laws of the land.


Talk to us about the Bigg Boss Company, if one can call it that. How many people physically present at the venue when the show is on, how much time spent on planning it, building the ‘house’, how many people considered for the final set of inmates?

On an average, there would be about 250 people working on the project 24×7 for the entire season that lasts more than three months. The house is planned approx six months in advance and it does take time for construction. There is no hard-and-fast rule on the final set of contestants, I think it all depends on who gets voted out and who remains. Normally, if you go by previous seasons, four to five contestants remain till the very end.


Given the time, effort and monies that are invested on Bigg Boss, would you say that it is commensurate with the returns in terms of ratings and revenue, esp vis-à-vis a fiction show? Also, commensurate with the risks involved in achieving the ratings and revenues?

There is no other show that gives you the PR and buzz like Bigg Boss. There is no other show that gives you the ability to do integrations like Bigg Boss. The ratings have always been very good  and more importantly it is more or less consistent through the season. Actually it picks up after three or four episodes once the viewers identify with the contestants. Sponsors spend top dollars to be associated with it. The fact that most of our sponsors whether it is Appy Fizz, Oppo, L’oreal and others have come year after year demonstrates that they see value in the partnership.


Last question: Since Bigg Boss 12, like last year, will also be aired on Voot (other than MTV), given that there is greater scope for airing of sex and promiscuity on the OTT platform, can one expect to witness a lot of that on Voot as against that on Colors?

We don’t necessarily believe that sex or promiscuity is a must-have for content to sell. If the content is good, people will watch it. Whatever content of Bigg Boss we have shown on MTV and Voot has been extremely popular with the young audience. People who were not able to catch the linear telecast go to Voot to do a catch-up. This is one show which is discussed in the corridors of the office, in beauty parlours and any social gathering and almost 24×7 on social media. So you have to be up to speed to know what’s happening. Our viewership on Voot has grown phenomenally and just as we envisaged, this growth hasn’t come at the cost of TV. It’s additional viewership and thereby adding our overall reach of the show and hence opening up another stream of advertising revenue. Having said this, on Voot, you will get to see some undekha action,  behind the scenes and other footage you don’t get to see on Colors.



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