Brands are making sure that they keep aside budgets for winner properties: Nina Jaipuria

MUMBAI: While the broadcast sector is going through a challenging phase due to the regulatory uncertainty and ad slowdown, Viacom18 head Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network Nina Elavia Jaipuria believes that the brands place their bets on sure-shot properties that deliver bang for the buck.

Speaking to the media at the launch event of ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi 10‘, Jaipuria said that high-impact properties like ‘Bigg Boss’, ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ and Indian Premier League (IPL) will always find takers irrespective of the ad environment.

While saying that the slowdown is present and the ad environment is sluggish, she said, “Brands are making sure that they keep aside budgets for winner properties. Whether that is ‘Bigg Boss’, ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, or IPL, a winning property has takers whether you like it or not, whether there is an economic slowdown or not. ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ has three sponsors and I am sure that the minute the show goes on-air we will close even more.”

She further noted that the brands have returned to advertise on KKK-10. Maruti Suzuki has returned as a sponsor while Mountain Dew and Balaji Wafers are new sponsors on-board.

She stated that most sponsors had extended association for the recently concluded ‘Bigg Boss’ as well. The property had 10 sponsors for the 13th season. She also added that the finale was sold out at a premium.

“While there has been a slowdown out there there are takers for properties that are working, properties that deliver growth and properties that deliver ROI to brands for the money that they spend. We are not shying away because we believe that there are takers.”

On the fiction side, she noted that any brand wants to associate with the leader. Pertinently, Colors has been at the top of the GEC table in urban HSM and pay markets. “They know that the best return is with a leader. The minute you have a winner on your show there is no going back even for advertisers. The rates for ‘Choti Sardarni’ hit an all-time high as it started growing. ‘Naagin’ starts selling at a premium right from day one.”

Jaipuria also highlighted the importance of brands investing during a slowdown as they have to maintain a certain share of the voice. The brand will move off the shelf if the investment is made during a slowdown.

“If your brand is not top of mind and is not in the consideration set then when things start getting better in H2 you will lose out. I totally believe that. It is easier to get a bigger share of voice if there aren’t enough advertisers anyway. You might as well grab that share of voice so that when things start getting better your brand is there.”

Even as the first three quarters of the fiscal have been a dampener for the industry, Jaipuria believes that the momentum will pick up in H2. She also asserted that Colors is working on strengthening every single prime-time slot to stay ahead of the competition.

“I don’t think that we should shy away if it is all going to pick up. You better be there as a brand who wants to take the viewership and advertiser loyalty. In March, we are coming up with a new show ‘Pavitra Bhagya’ from Ekta Kapoor at 10 pm. We are not leaving any slot unexperimented and open to competition. We are going to be as competitive as it can get both on fiction and non-fiction.”

Notwithstanding the ad environment, Jaipuria feels that TV channels need to be innovative in order to remain relevant in the market. It is important for a Hindi GEC to have a firmly established leadership position in the various timeslots. It is also important to have massive tentpoles like ‘Bigg Boss’ and now ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ which launches on Saturday on Colors.

She noted that ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ is being shot in Bulgaria for the first time. For the first time, Rohit Shetty has designed the stunts himself. “We are doing a moving train for the first time. We are also doing an aerial stunt with a chopper. There is also a fabulous mix of contestants where you will see people from television, dance, radio come together. You will see a full, new, innovative season. It was the number one show last year. We believe that it will cross all boundaries this year as well.”

She said that the focus of Colors in 2020 will rest on experimenting and innovating. “We will continue to do that. The baton is being handed from ‘Bigg Boss’ to ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. This is the first show that goes on air in 2020 which is the impact show. You saw what happened with ‘Bigg Boss’. We said that there would be two finales and this would be a season that viewers had never seen before. That happened. We continue to be very true to what we do. We are great entertainers. We have actually managed to ensure that we give you drama, entertainment, emotion.”

Talking about the importance of ‘Bigg Boss’, she said that the show has made Colors a robust platform besides bringing in new viewers. “So in its entire journey ‘Bigg Boss’ had over 200 million viewers. That is a very big number to give. The finale was trending really well on Twitter.”

Apart from experiment, Colors will also focus on creating endearing characters and tell very different stories from a fiction point of view as well. “A lot of that has come true for us with ‘Choti Sardarni’, ‘Naagin’ being in the top 10. ‘Shakti took a 20-year leap and is in the top 10 again. ‘Naati Pinky Ki Lambi Love Story’ is another very different show. It has a different nuance to it.”

The channel had recently launched ‘Barrister Babu’ which talks about doing away with social evils. It talks about social issues and how that relationship between the two nurtures her into becoming the first barrister in that region. “We are working in different genres. We are testing whitespaces. We always do that. We try new things. We tell different stories. Some work some don’t but of late all of them including ‘Vidya’ at 7 pm are the slot leader. We are ensuring that we have great story arcs and peaks so that our viewers stay loyal to us and they come back.”

Jaipuria pointed out that there are lot of whitespaces which include drama, social, romance, stunts, adventure, and voyeurism. “Now we have something that we pulled out of our hats which is ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karoge’. This builds on the popularity of ‘Bigg Boss’. Building on the relationship that the contestants have with viewers we said why not take this further and continue this love affair with the viewer going forward?”

On the new tariff order (NTO), Jaipuria said that it was about giving a choice to the consumer, bringing in transparency and also reducing litigation. She also noted that the TRAI should have allowed the new regime to settle to gauge its impact.

When asked if TRAI is justified about NT0 2 given that consumers were complaining that their bills had risen she said that when a new regime is brought into an industry which is so dynamic there has to be a period given for it to settle. “You cannot keep disrupting it. Disruption leads to further disruption. You have to let it settle. You have to let implementation take its course. That is all we are saying. Things have not settled down and already NTO 2 has been brought in.”

She added that there was a time when there was disruption in terms of ratings in the Hindi entertainment genre. “It has all come back to normal. GECs continue to rule the roost. GECs continue to offer unadulterated fiction and non-fiction shows. We have not stopped our investments. In fact, we invest in superior content.”

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