Yudh going to score big with Big B’s TV fiction debut in Sony

Mumbai,1 June-2014(Indilens web team): General entertainment channel Sony Entertainment Television’s (SET’s) soon-to-be-launched show, Yudh, which marks Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan’s television debut in the ‘fiction’ format, is touted to be India’s most expensive show in that segment. It is also estimated to command higher advertisement rates than any other fiction show on Indian television.

Yudh going to score big with Big B’s TV fiction debut in Sony

Amitabh Bachchan
Cover of Amitabh Bachchan

Co-produced by Endemol and Saraswati Productions, the show has 20 hours of content to be presented as a daily programme. While its promotions were launched on Saturday night, the show is expected to hit the small screen later this month.

SET refused to divulge the production cost but sources said it could be close to Rs 3 crore per episode (including marketing spends) – that’s more than any fiction show ever on the Indian television. Generally, the production cost for daily soaps is less than Rs 1 crore per episode, but these shows run for longer durations.

Bachchan is a familiar face on the Indian TV for playing the genial anchor of Kaun Banega Crorepati but he is yet to act in a TV fiction. Yudh, which boasts a sterling starcast that includes Sarika, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Kay Kay Menon, will see Bachchan playing the role of Yudhishthir, the protagonist. While Anurag Kashyap is part of the team as a creative director, Shoojit Sircar has donned the director’s hat for part of the show.

Rohit Gupta, vice-president of MSM, which runs SET, did not say much on the cost of the show but agreed “the mounting of the show is huge, given the cast and production quality”. The network is also expected to spend extensively on marketing the show, considering it has a “one-of-a-kind differentiated content”.

Last year, Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor had made his television debut with the Indian adaptation of the thriller series 24, which was made at the cost of about Rs 2.5 crore per episode (including licence fee). This, at that time, was the highest for a fiction show in the country. But the show got a lukewarm response in terms of ratings – it did well in the metros but failed to get eyeballs in non-metro cities and towns. Launched with an all-India rating of 2.8 TVM (television viewership in million), 24 averaged at between 2.2 and 2.8 TVM for the whole season.

Grand ad rates

Yudh has also managed to break boundaries in terms of ad rates – at Rs 3 lakh for a 10-second spot – thanks to its mega starcast. This is practically double the normal rates of Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 seconds on top-rated daily shows on general entertainment channels.

Besides charging premium spot rates for advertising, MSM has roped in a bevy of sponsors as well – primary sponsorship revenues alone come to more than Rs 12-14 crore. These include presenting sponsor Cadbury’s (at Rs 6-7 crore) and “powered-by” sponsor OLX (Rs 6-7 crore), apart from associate sponsors Maruti, Ruchi Soya and Dabur (Rs 4-5crore each). MSM’s Gupta says three more sponsors are expected to come on board by next week.

“We have 20 hours of content and we are still figuring out how to slot it. But we are confident of the eyeballs the show will get. Also, since it is a finite show, we can pack a punch in each episode. We aim to end each episode on a high note to keep the viewers intrigued. Advertisers have realised the potential of the show and the value it will bring,” Gupta explains.

Yudh’s storyline follows the different relationships that Yudhishthir, played by Bachchan, shares with various people in his life. While it is a family drama, there are realistic undertones in the storytelling.

“We had experimented with such content four-five years ago in partnership with Yash Raj Films (the television division). We had shows like Powder, Mahi-Way and Seven. At that time, the audience, maybe, was not prepared for such content. Today, the viewers have evolved and there is scope for differentiated content,” says Gupta, who is optimistic of the show’s success, both critically and financially. He is confident that the show will prove profitable for the channel.

Ad rates (Rs /10 second) commanded by top TV shows

Rs 3 lakh
20 hours of content (slots to be decided)

24 (Season 1)
Rs 2 lakh
24 episodes

Top daily GEC shows*
Rs 1.5 lakh (average)
Long running (most have completed 200 episodes)
* Diya aur Bati Hum, Balika Vadhu, Jodha Akbar, Maharana Pratap, etc

Source: TV industry