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MTV aims to go deeper into Tier II and III towns with ‘Splitsvilla 7’

MUMBAI: Youth entertainment and music channel MTV is now making extra efforts to connect with young audiences in Tier II and III cities apart from the urban, upscale youth. This will be reflected in the upcoming seventh season of its popular dating reality show ‘Splitsvilla’.

Premiering on 14 June, the show will air at 7 pm every Saturday, replacing the prank show ‘Jhand Hogi Sabki’. The new ‘Splitsvilla’ will see 20 girls wooing and vying for seven male celebrities from the TV fraternity.

The contestants include Abhishek Malik from Zee TV’s ‘Punar Vivaah’, Ashwini Kaul from Channel V’s ‘Gumrah’, Ayaz Ahmed from Life OK’s ‘Do Dil Ek Jaan’, Mr India title winner Mayank Pawar, Rishabh Sinha from Zee TV’s ‘Qubool Hai’, Shravan Reddy from Bindass’ ‘Ye Hai Aashiqui’ and Mayank Gandhi from Sony’s ‘Nandini’.

(L-R) - Vikas Gupta (Programming Head - MTV), Sunny Leone (Host -MTV Splitsvilla 7), Aditya Swamy (Head - MTV) and MTV VJ Gaelyn Mendonca

(L-R) – Vikas Gupta (Programming Head – MTV), Sunny Leone (Host -MTV Splitsvilla 7), Aditya Swamy (Head – MTV) and MTV VJ Gaelyn Mendonca

MTV India programming head Vikas Gupta told TelevisionPost.com that the decision to engage male celebrities as contestants for the show was intended as an extra connect with audiences in smaller towns and deepen the reach of the show.

“When I joined MTV, Aditya told me that we need to make whatever properties there are to be much bigger so that people in every small town are interested in watching them. This is one of the changes that see MTV evolving. Hence, we are going deeper into smaller towns,” said Gupta.

With ‘fairy-tale romance’ as the theme, the show will feature girls like former Miss Goa and lingerie model Scarlet Rose fighting for their love in the Samode Palace in Jaipur.

Upping the hotness quotient this year will be Bollywood actor Sunny Leone along with VJ Nikhil Chinapa.

Sunny LeoneMTV India EVP and business head Aditya Swamy added, “We have put in Sunny as the friend, while Nikhil is the general who people are scared of. This will add a new flavour to the content. From being a show which is purely about winning and fighting, it has now become one where fantasies and dreams come true. Hopefully, we will be able to tap into that positive emotion through all these elements.”

As per channel officials, the sixth season of the show garnered 65 million viewers and this year the plan is to up the ante. Thus, the channel initiated a special ‘Splitsvilla Battleground’ as a prelude to the show.

The activity saw viewers from across the globe participate in the competition to get a chance to become a contestant of the show. The winners of the same, who will join the show soon, are a female participant from Israel and a male from Dubai.

Apart from that, the show will see several digital activations like ‘Split-snapper’, which gives one viewer a chance to be in the villa to shoot all the behind-the-scenes pictures as the official photographer for the show. There is also ‘Break-a-berries’ to profile the contestants.

In terms of on-ground too, MTV is going deeper into the markets and a number of activations are planned in over 250 colleges through campus connect programmes, in addition to parties with the contestants.

MTV India head of marketing and insights Sumeli Chatterjee said, “Last season had a lot of oomph and sexiness, but this season we go back to the basics in the terms of a fairy-tale romance. But since it’s MTV, there will be a twist in the tale. We are building on the theme and a lot of engagements are being planned on ground and in the digital space.”

The show has got on board Killer as the title sponsor, and Manforce, Fogg and Karbonn as the powered-by sponsors. It is in the process of roping in more advertisers, one of which is Bacardi.

But even though the focus of the show is romance, it is not cutting down on the fighting and controversies that surround the show every season. Channel officials also claimed that they were proud of the fact that ‘Splitsvilla’ was the most controversial show.

However, this has never gone down well with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and it has issued several cautionary notices to the channel regarding the content of the show.

But Swamy has a strong defence: At the end of the day, MTV is influencing young people and if they feel there is something that is negatively influencing them, the channel would not put it out there.

“The show is a brand in itself and when it’s popular, people want to be a part of it irrespective of controversy. You have to play the games by the rules and while there is the I&B Ministry, all of our channels run on self-regulation and social relevance. We talk to the masses and the minds of youth are opening up. Casual dating wasn’t OK 10 years ago, but today we have a show running from seven years built on the same concept,” he stated.