Mumbai: Hindi general entertainment channel Colors will pump in another Rs30 crore in the first year of a Rs100 crore three-year deal to broadcast Indian Premier League (IPL)-related events and create its own shows linked to the popular Twenty20 cricket tournament.
The channel hopes to earn profit by selling sponsorship rights and ad spots at higher-than-usual rates. While industry watchers called it a “bold experiment”, some media buyers and rival channels said the marriage of cricket and entertainment may not work.
In the next few months, the Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd-owned channel will spend Rs63 crore on its IPL shows, including the first year payment of Rs33 crore to IPL, said a person familiar with the deal, who declined to be identified.
Colors, the current market leader in Hindi television entertainment, is creating four IPL-related shows—dance and music reality show Rockstar, the IPL Awards Night, IPL Parties on MTV and IPL Khatron Ke Khiladi.
The 13-episode Rockstar will feature winners from earlier talent hunt shows and will be judged by singers Sukhwinder Singh and Kailash Kher. Bollywood celebrities and IPL franchisee owners Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty will take turns to be the third judge, adding to the glamour quotient of the show.
“The focus is on entertaining the lakh-plus live audience that comes to watch the (IPL) match. The show will happen at the stadium. Here the contestants are playing more to the gallery,” said Ashvini Yardi, head of programming at Colors.
Colors will also broadcast the IPL Awards Night honouring cricketers for their performance on the field.
The third show, created around glamourous after-match parties every night, will be telecast by Viacom 18’s youth entertainment channel MTV.
The channel will telecast at least 40 parties and entertainment events such as fashion shows and music concerts organized for IPL franchises.
IPL Khatron Ke Khiladi will feature cricketers performing stunts later in the year.
Colors is selling the title sponsorships of these shows for Rs8-12 crore. Ten-second spot advertisements, ordinarily priced between Rs1 lakh and Rs1.5 lakh, are being valued above Rs2 lakh.
The channel has set an internal target of Rs70-75 crore on IPL programming in the first year.
Media buyers and channel executives said IPL matches generally dent general entertainment channels’ viewership by 8-10%.
But Manoj Malkani, vice-president, Media Planning Group (MPG), a part of Havas Media, said if marketed well, the IPL content on Colors could deliver a rating of 3-4%.
Rockstar will be used to push up weekend ratings. “The rates are steep and there’s 50:50 chance that marketing works and trials are generated,” he said.
Ajit Varghese, managing director, Maxus India, GroupM India Pvt. Ltd, said Colors was experimenting with a bold strategy.
Varghese expects brands and at least 50-60% of IPL watchers to turn up for Colors’s shows.
Not everyone agrees with Varghese though. A media buyer said, on condition of anonymity, that her clients were unlikely to buy advertisement spots on the Colors’s IPL shows.
“The content is around music and dance and Bollywood and there’s nothing new in that. Besides, it’s a risk for advertisers as during the IPL, it’s likely that most viewers wouldn’t be hooked by anything else,” she added.
Joy Chakraborthy, chief revenue officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, reiterated his faith in soaps as viewership drivers on general entertainment channels.
“The media buyer community is more confident about television soaps than anything else and we continue to invest in that. The strategy of any general entertainment channel (during the IPL) ideally ought to be to hold on to existing viewers, rather than try and pull in a whole different set of audiences. Such efforts have backfired in the past,” he said.
Colors was the top-rated general entertainment channel from 14-20 February, with a 22.9% channel share.
Star Plus came in second with 21.5% and Zee TV ranked third with 18%, according to television viewership data given by TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd.