The truth isn’t quite triumphing – not at least in the way some advertisers on Aamir Khan’s hyped debut television reality show Satyamev Jayate thought it would. Television rating points (TRPs) have fallen short of expectations, says at least two marketing heads of associate sponsors, although publicly most advertisers are making the right noises. That, however, hasn’t stopped media buying firms, on behalf of advertisers, from pushing for result and performance-based ad rates on reality shows. They say that TRPs should decide the ad rates of reality shows instead of the channels charging advertisers fixed rates even before the show goes live.
As per rating agency TAM’s data released by Star on June 13, Satyamev Jayate – which is being aired on Sunday mornings across nine channels of the Star Network (as well as on the state-owned Doordarshan) delivered a national TVR of 3.9. That’s lower than the ratings of blockbuster shows of the past like Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony Entertainment) and Bigg Boss’ debut show (Colors).
Says Navin Khemka, managing partner of media buying firm ZenithOptimedia, which represents consumer goods major Reckitt Benckiser, one of the associate sponsors of Satyamev Jayate: “All the risk cannot be passed on to the advertiser. With high entry-level costs on reality shows, it is critical that channels take more accountability on the returns on investment.” Increasingly, agencies and clients will ask for certain minimum guarantees on programme performance and viewership, adds Khemka. “It has to be a win-win for both the brand and the show.”
While Bharti Airtel coughed up a chunky Rs 17-20 crore for the presenting sponsor slot, associate sponsors like Axis Bank, Reckitt Benckiser, Skoda, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson paid Rs 6-7 crore each for the 13-week show. Star has charged Rs 8-10 lakh per 10 seconds for spot rates for Satyamev Jayate while spot rates for KBC were Rs 3.5-4 lakh per 10 seconds.
According to the marketing head of an associate sponsor who did not wish to be quoted, returns on investment on the show could have been higher. “The way the show was sold to us we expected higher ratings.
It’s disappointing and we hope the ratings increase as the show progresses.”
However, Bharat Bambawale, global brand director at Bharti Airtel, defends the investment. “To view the success of a show based only on television ratings would limit its overall value. The success of a show has to be looked at collectively and in a holistic way… the content of a show will impact ratings.” On whether broadcasters should rationalise ad rates on reality shows, Bambawale says: “It’s a matter of individual judgement for every sponsor.”
Basabdutta Chowdhury, CEO of Platinum Media, a division of media buying firm Madison World, which buys media for Bharti Airtel, says: “Advertisers do want accountability and minimum guarantees factored in for reality shows in general, although Satyamev Jayate was not meant to be a mass ratings show.”
On reality shows, deals are structured in a way that they cannot be re-negotiated through the entire program. This is unlike cricket where broadcasters keep at least some ad inventory – like the semi-finals and finals – open to negotiations based on the ratings.
Ajit Varghese, MD, South Asia of Maxus, which is owned by the country’s largest media buying house Group M, says: “While there’s no standardised way of looking at a deal, we all are pushing for deals with a minimum guarantee. Of course, the arrangement should factor in an upside too, but overall ad deals should be linked to a programme’s performance.”
Veteran ad man Santosh Desai is of the view that Satyamev Jayate needs to be evaluated not just by viewership but also for the impact it has. “It’s a difficult show to watch…. Some subjects don’t have a mass audience at all so to be watched week after week by masses will be a challenge.” KBC’s most recent season had opened to a rating of 5.24, and Bigg Boss Season 5 had opened to a TRP of 4.25. The Amitabh Bachchan-hosted KBC had managed ratings of over 4 all through its run.
A Star India spokesperson says the show has delivered a reach of Rs 40 crore over the first five episodes (including repeats). The launch episode delivered a TVR of 4.9 in Hindi-speaking markets and a 4.1 TVR all-India. Subsequently, all episodes have consistently delivered a 4+ rating in HSM and 3.5+ ratings at the all-India level. Says Kevin Vaz, Star India president, ad sales: “Satyamev has ranked amongst the top few every week on an all-India level.”Aamir Khan Amitabh Bachchan Big Boss KBC Satyamev Jayate