Branded Social Entertainment in India: Online Talent Hunt Contests and Reality Shows

Audience Matters recently quoted me in a story on web reality shows.

I said that web reality shows are an important piece of the underexploited social entertainment opportunity in India. The reality show format is social by design, even on TV, as it’s built around active audience engagement. The internet creates new possibilities for reality shows to develop multiple non-linear narratives, engage audiences in innovative ways and create virality.

Niche Indian social networks BigAdda and Ibibo are creative innovative web reality shows for brands. BigAdda has recently run Revital Get Fit India and Yamaha India Bike Rally. Ibibo is currently running Airtel iSinger, Hamdard Safi iFreshFace, Maruti Suzuki iSerial Stars, and iHunk and cross-promoting them on Facebook via Facebook Connect.

Balaji Telefilms has also created a talent hunt platform called Hoonur and launched a web reality show ‘Bol Niti Bol‘.

Other prominent examples of branded contest-based web reality shows in India include MTV Hero Honda Roadies Battleground and Mitsubishi Cedia Great Driving Challenge.

We haven’t really seen video-based online reality shows like Hulu’s ‘If I Can Dream’ and Budweiser’s BudHouse (created for the 2010 FIFA World Cup) in India, but ‘Bol Niti Bol’ is an interesting start.

What do you think? Will online talent hunt contests and reality shows become popular in India? Which are the other interesting online talent hunt contests and reality shows, in India or elsewhere, that I haven’t included here? Do share your insights in the comments below.

Here is the full text of the Audience Matters story –

Web reality shows, a growing trend for youth and marketers!!!

By Ashish Srivastava

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reality shows as we know today is the favorite genre of all Television producers. On one hand they generate good revenues for Television Industry and on the other hand they create a very good platform for thousands of Indian youngsters who want to achieve heights in their field of interests. With the advent of technology, the web is not untouched with these reality shows. It seems that though it is television that is gaining the TRPs with such kind of shows, the future of these shows is on the web. With the huge surge in internet video on YouTube, Google Video, AOL Video and others, it is apparent that web-centric entertainment is on the rise. Web reality show is the premier online destination to learn about and discuss all the latest web reality offerings.

Be it Dancing, Singing, doing Comedy, modeling or other talent, the web these days has everything in its kitty. ibibo, MSN,, and Zatang are coming up with innovative ideas of reality shows for social entertainment. The list doesn’t end here, apart from the ibibo and Zee’s tie-up, several companies, such as Campus18, the digital arm of media conglomerate Network 18 Fincap Pvt Ltd, Yamaha Motor India Pvt Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and online news and entertainment company are all planning similar moves.

Talking about the growing web reality shows trend, Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social says, “Web reality show trend is growing as internet is providing big platform for different social entertainment. Sites like ibibo and others are coming up with unique ideas of voting and participating in contests increasing the numbers of netizens.” Discussing the web reality shows and contest, Rahul Sharma, Vice President- Brand Solutions, ibibo says, “There are a lot of initiatives that we are doing. We had Aircel iNQ Contest, i-Videostar, i-hunk, freshface, Airtel i-singer, i-serial star. All these initiatives have enabled us to pull a lot of traffic and since the applications are interesting more and more people want to be a part of it.” Pradeep Lamba, Media Director, Quasar says, “Social gaming is gaining power these days. Same is the case with online contests and reality shows. This has come up to be the best way to reach the audience.”

But, how are web reality shows different from TV reality shows? Gaurav Mishra says, “Television is using linear format while web these days has a lot of options.” Elaborating the same, Rahul Sharma says, “On television, you see the recorded content and no doubt that is edited. Here people upload their videos, but we do not edit the videos, we just verify the user and upload the content without any alteration. We also bring out the results on the basis of audience votes and the entire voting system is transparent, unlike the television reality shows.”

Well!! It’s always audience that matters. Be it television or web, the audience for such shows is increasing day by day. Gaurav has some figures to share with us. He says, “There are 30 to 50 million net users and 11 million mobile net users in India. The number of audience is increasing rapidly.” Rahul Sharma says, “Talking about the audience for these contests or shows, I would say that today’s youth spends maximum time online and these contests and shows give them a platform to showcase their talent. Gone are the days when people used to spend their evenings in front of the idiot box, now people have got more involved with the internet and have got more interactive as compared to the earlier times. Moreover voting online is free, therefore we obviously have audience.”

It is the success of reality shows on TV that has initiated the response from advertisers for the Internet. And if done right, experts believe that the Web could be more profitable environment than TV to harbour the concept of reality shows. Gaurav Mishra says, “Marketers are adopting new ideas to advertise their brands on web. Even, companies like Maruti and others are sponsoring and promoting such kind of shows.”

Briefing brand promotion strategy on web, Pradeep Lamba says, “These shows and contests are one of the best tools for brand promotion. Companies like Chevrolet, Maruti, Airtel etc are investing a lot of money in such contest. As per the brand special programs, games, contests and shows are designed, the brand is placed in such a way that it gets the maximum eyeballs. This helps in brand recall and increases the brand popularity. We also promote these games/contests on social networking sites and player or contestant himself also spreads the word, therefore such programs have a wide reach as far as audience is concerned. Therefore, ROI is very high in such web related shows and programs.”

However, industry professionals believe that online reality initiatives are still very niche in the Indian market. All these programs or initiatives currently target the youth. In the west, this market has a mass effect and to bring such an effect, the technology has to be upgraded, innovative ideas have to be generated and the creatives should be such that they rope in all the age groups and not only youth. But no matter what the web reality shows will be a hit in the coming future.

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