On Sunday, when the seventh season of Bigg Boss, produced by Endemol, hits the TV screens on Viacom18’s general entertainment channel Colors, it will be the launch of one of the country’s most expensive shows to go on air. At about Rs 1.2 crore an episode, the estimated cost of the show for this season is Rs 110-115 crore, second only to the Indian Premier League in the list of the costliest television properties. The show will be aired for 95 days — from September 15 to December 18. This, however, is not the only big-budget TV show waiting to hit the screens. A day after Bigg Boss, audiences will be introduced to the latest adaptation of the epic Mahabharata, on Star Plus. The total cost of the show, commissioned for 120 episodes (until March 2014, five days a week) and produced at a cost of about Rs 80 lakh an episode, would come to Rs 95-100 crore for six months. Madison Media COO Karthik Laxminarayan says: “The two shows, being launched back to back, make things very interesting on TV. It is after a long time that such a competition will be seen. It is definitely a good thing. Both the shows have got good response from advertisers and the first month will show who takes the cake. It is a known fact that Bigg Boss results in a 20 per cent spike in ratings for Colors, while Star’s promotion of Mahabharat and the production might just do the trick.” One must also keep in mind that Colors is set to launch 24, the Indian adaptation of the thriller series by the same name in the US, in less than a month.
That means the channel might actually win in what seems to be a Colors-versus-Star battle. Big Synergry’s game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, on Multi Screen Media’s Sony Entertainment Television, has been made at a cost of Rs 75-80 crore — nearly Rs 2 crore an episode. This makes it the costliest property in terms of cost of production per episode. Colors’ 24 is estimated to cost nearly Rs 50 crore, including licensing fees for the franchise and cost of production. The rights of the American original have been bought by Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, who will play the Indian equivalent of the lead character Jack Bauer. Kapoor has also featured in the original 24. The stage is set for an interesting battle, as Mahabharata and Bigg Boss vie for the audiences’ attention and advertisers investment. According to sources close to the shows, a 10-second slot on Bigg Boss is being sold for Rs 2-2.5 lakh; this might rise 20 to 40 per cent if Trai’s 12-minute ad cap comes into play. The show has already roped in telecom major Vodafone as its title sponsor and is in the process of locking more deals as time passes. The exact amount paid by Vodafone is not known but sources say the figure could be Rs 12- 14 crore. Mahabharata has roped in Fortune Oil as its title sponsor, while Ghadi Detergent is the powered-by sponsor. The ad rates for the epic range between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh, and could go up 20-30 per cent, depending on the implementation of the 10+2 ad-cap rule.