Star India’s Tamil Entertainment channel Star Vijay has created a storm in the Tamil Nadu with the introduction of the debut season of BiggBoss format in Tamil. The show has created a historic conversation and recall value among the audience that is declared as the highest among all formats of BiggBoss as per the recent study conducted by ChromeDM.
Star Vijay has also registered highest ever viewership in the history of the channel both in Rural and Urban market. All this didn’t come easily as the channel faced its worst nightmare after loosing its No. 2 Tamil GEC spot to its rival Zee Tamil an year before. But, soon the channel jumped in to action and managed to reclaim its No. 2 spot and holding it permanently as on date and marching towards new heights.
The new man in action on Star Vijay, its Business Head – Krishnan Kutty managed to do all this within first year of his assignment and proved his mettle as a seasoned player who is here to play a long innings and guide the channel towards much bigger game.
In an exclusive chat with tvnews4u.com’s StraighTalk – Krishnan Kutty revealed his experience in weathering the storm and his plans ahead for the game:
1) Hope BiggBoss Tamil has done wonders to Vijay TV… How do you look at this Property…?
The show has given us lot of optimism with regards to our ability to try doing different things. It has been a great and encouraging story for us. but relatively BiggBoss was a high-risk proposition, as the market has not seen a product like this before… They haven’t heard a product like this earlier… Though the host Kamal was there, the question before us … Will a product like this work in this market, … what will this contestant do there and will the people get attached to this kind of show.
But, now I think people have really attached themselves towards the show and it has formed an emotional connect with the audience, It was something fresh on Television audience in this market.
Now we’re in the backend season of BiggBoss Tamil and I hope we are nearing the week 10 and it still has another 5 or 6 weeks ahead.
It is a very difficult product to work on because it’s like virtually how it is and don’t know what is coming up next, there has been a lot of reaction and counter reactions and how the house is reacting and how do to deal with. On the other side people get very passionate about the certain behaviour of the house and how do we address some of the behaviours, is been a very high-stress level experience. But I guess at some level it is really worth it.
2) Is there any lock-in period between Star Vijay and Endemol Shine India for future seasons of BiggBoss format in Tamil…?
Our contract and relationship with Endemol Shine India give us an edge to go on with few more seasons of the format. It’s a very expensive product the market has witnessed so far,… Frankly, it is the most expensive show in the history of South India.
3) Will you be able to make money out of it…?
Yeah, we will make money..!
This business changes so fast and right now we are just focusing next two-quarters and we are obviously very hopeful that we can make money on the show going forward as there is an appetite for this kind of content and the host Kamal sir has worked very well.
4) Are you satisfied with the opening numbers…? The impact created by the show?
It has been creating a never before kind of conversation. I have been in the television industry for the past 12 years on across markets. I have seen the conversation created by Big Boss Hindi, but it was not as universal as that of Big Boss Tamil.
BigBoss has created a loyal set of an audience comprising office colleagues, neighbours, business people, people of smaller towns.
BigBoss has mainly contributed to two things, one is the volume of the audience and the second thing is that the audiences who are watching Big Boss are also watching more of our other shows. Hence, there is an up deck across all our other shows too.
5) Did the show managed to garner a new set of audience Sampling…?
Tamil Nadu is basically a highly enthusiastic and high reach television market. The show has definitely added new audience with universality and through that considerable volume of aggregation of the audience had taken place.
Despite the concerns some people had against the show, I think we have been very careful in keeping the show in a family friendly environment. However, it’s truly a reality show wherein we don’t have anything under our control, but there is nothing that we put on the show that creates embarrassment for the audience.
What is really engaging in the show is the very high-pressure environment prevailing inside the house.
6) Your take on Criticism that it’s scripted and pre-planned…?
Whenever I discuss this show with the people, I always tell them please be kind and charitable to the contestants of BiggBoss. I keep saying “if any of us” have a camera focusing on us throughout the day”, 100% I would be said some stuff that is non-diplomatic, 100% I will be lazing off or slacking off something and have some unfortunate words coming out of my mouth because all of us have some moments of intolerance or moments of weakness at some point of time in a day.
Factors like the exit of Oviya from the house, while she was expected to hang on till the end, will clearly tell the originality and unpredictable nature of this reality show.
I just always laugh when someone says that it is all just pre-planned because everybody in the house is a phenomenal character and do you think that we can just go and control them!! needless to say the role of the host Kamal sir and it would be unimaginable to script him what to talk and what not to on a platform of this magnitude.
He is per say so knowledgeable and very matured that he has got the sense of when to react and where not to. Moreover, people in the BiggBoss house respect him the most and I don’t know if any other host like that of Salman Khan’s image would have experienced a similar respect from the contestants. He has wonderful dealt with the situations like Bharani’s act inside the house and unexpected development in Oviya and he was a wonderful legendary crisis manager.
7) Are you happy with the performance of the show…?
The show has given tremendous value to us. It also added incredible value to our advertising partners. HonestlyBig Boss has delivered numbers, which we haven’t witnessed so far in the history of the channel.Yes!!! We are all excited.
To be honest that we all were really hopeful for good number, but the scale of ratings the show has delivered far exceeded our expectations. It has become a phenomenal one.
As a member of television community, I can say that today, it is very difficult to create a show of this magnitude, which is so much popular among the audience of across ages. Today everybody has got so many choices on television itself and as-well-as cross screens. Earlier television was the major mode of distraction but today you have three other modes of distraction. Creating such a successful show in this scenario is a remarkable achievement.
8) From Research to Distribution to Heading the Cluster of English and Regional GEC… It has been a long Journey with Star India… Can we have a look at the past and present?
I have been in across profiles and I have seen all aspects of this business. When I was in Research, which was the time when I spent a lot of time on consumer, content etc… In distribution, I was fundamentally focusing on the commercial aspect of the business.
Over here in Star Vijay, I think the function in this role is a culmination of all experience and everything I did in the past like driving the content, consumer and sales processes. This opportunity is kind of a very exciting business because it about handling a very dominant player who’s built a consumer franchise.
I think there are a lot of challenges like… Do you attempt to be different… Do you attempt to still address the heart of the business and what will be the next step moving towards achieving it…. Let me not worry much about the competition beyond a point and focus on Vijay TV that is a great consumer franchise in this market and almost 75% to 80% of consumers catch up Vijay TV every weekend on a is a pre-BiggBoss scenario.
If you put good content on Vijay TV, people will turn out to watch it and this is a very significant and encouraging platform. BiggBoss is actually a culmination of our one phase of the journey that we started during December and January when we were around 10 or 11% share. The most distinct thing is that we were able to increase our share to 14 to 15% even before the launch of BiggBoss. So, we were able to launch enough new shows and bring some viewers back into the channel.
And then, we changed our logo after 15 years and then we brought in this very high impact show to push the channel to next level and our today’s market share is around 24 to 25% of Tamil GEC, In 15+ Urban we are almost 25 to 26%.
In my mind, BiggBoss is actually over… and I am focusing on what we could do for October, November and December and how we would try and hold on this numbers after BiggBoss.
9) Other than BiggBoss, many of your prime non-fiction properties have crossed 10+ seasons, Your Insight on Upcoming Properties of Vijay TV..?
The most fantastic thing about the Tamil market is people’s willingness and appetite to try new things. For a short period during 2015 to 16, we weren’t trying new things. While BiggBoss is a great story, this small property launched in Sunday afternoon 1:00 PM, Ready…Steady… Poo…, a simple game show has delivered 4 to 5 TVR. So, there is a lot of focus on trying new things.
We have the Finale of “Kings of Comedy” on 9th of September; in the following week on 16th September we are launching two new shows. One is the show called “Yes or No” – We have the great performing Talents in this show with 128 contestants. They will be performing incredible tasks and the audience will be judging the show based on the performance and decide to retain them or not.
We have built a great consumer franchise like KalakkkapovathuYaru, Jodi, Super Singer, Kings of Comedy, While continue using them, but we will also be trying new shows and keep adding fun. Some will work and some may not. So, we will keep trying…
We will try to add new innovations within the existing properties like Super Singer. There were times when we ran it continuously for two years with one season being replaced by another season. We will definitely have a season this year apart from the new shows that we will be testing in this market.
Somebody said… If you are not failing… then you are not trying hard….
10) Do you have a backup plan for post-BiggBoss scenario…?
BiggBoss basically occupies a lot of programming hours. So, we are still finalizing our plans with regards to time band etc… One Big piece we will be coming up which will be ‘Murugan’, We have just launched the teasers and we are hoping to bring it in around September or October.
Murugan will be one of our next big initiatives. The story will be very relevant to Tamil consumers and we expect the show to establish a mass connect with the audience. This show would possibly be the most expensive fiction show that we have ever done.
The scale of the show will be much higher and after looking at the teaser many thought that it was another big budget Hindi show being dubbed in Tamil. The main campaign will break in a couple of weeks.
The story of Lord Murugan is closely associated with Tamil audience and We are keeping our fingers crossed and waiting to see how it comes up.
11) Would you be looking to create another property similar in size of BiggBoss… Like Fear Factor…?
I think the biggest challenge in this market is Economics. Fear Factor was an expensive show even for a larger market like Hindi. If you look at the structure of BiggBoss content, It’s a very advertiser friendly product. The volume of content and the ability to do integrations with the Brands and products are really great.
We will be looking and evaluating all the formats because you need to have a mix of both. You can’t always have roti every day or Pasta every day. Similarly, we can’t depend on a single format. So, we will be deciding on it at an appropriate time.
We are charting plans for our afternoon bands. But, right now our priority is to focus and build our weekdays Prime Time band.
Recently, we shifted our prime time show Neeli to afternoon and it is delivering the prime time ratings. We are aware that there is a sheer amount of content consumption in afternoon bands. But we will first be structuring the prime time and then we will start focusing on the afternoon.
13) With BARC India’s changing universe, the weightage towards Rural Audience has increased… As a channel that is popular among urban audience… Was the upcoming show Murugan strategically placed to attract rural eyeballs…?
There are two things… Are we skewed towards urban… Certainly Yes and we are honestly happy to be skewed towards the Urban audience. It is really good to have a special identity in a market, as people should know about you and it helps consumers and advertisers.
Having said that, Some of the Vijay TV’s franchise has done significantly well in the Rural market. If you take BiggBoss… it has delivered 600 GRP in rural against 900 GRP Chennai, which is great numbers and significant growth for us,
Murugan is a household name of Tamil Nadu. In any Rural homes, they will have a picture of Lord Murugan. Statistics say that one among every three men in Tamilnadu is being named after Lord Murugan. So we expect the show to be deeply familiar with rural TN audience also.
14) Will you be looking to revamp the Vijay Awards Property…?
Vijay Awards is something that we are still considering If we can generate the kind of interest level similar to North we can definitely look into it. In the North, the award properties done by companies like Wiz-craft is really huge and it keeps driving the interest levels of the audience with its grandeur and innovations.
I don’t know about SIIMA but I don’t think currently there are award properties that are creating excitement in TN. On the other hand, it is a very expensive property with a very low margin.
15) How aggressive are you in Film Acquisition…?
Movies are a key part of the portfolio. I got Baahubali 2, which is the biggest movie in Tamil market this year, Sivakarthikeyan starter Velaikaaran, Managaram and Power Pandy.
We actually stopped buying Films business for the past year and a half but we are back into it this year. We are aggressive in picking some good titles. But, also the truth of the matter is you don’t make money out of movies in the satellite.
This market has an appetite for films and certainly we are a market for it and we will be buying 12 or 13 movies every year and hopefully one or two will be larger ones.
If you take the case of Hindi market, you can make 35% to 40% recovery in the first two airings of a larger movie but the same here is just 10% that too if you do exceptionally well. We can’t stay away from participating for this reason but we will be choosing movies that are very relevant and sensible towards the investments