Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’ returns as election looms
Star India this time has broken its deal with Aamir Khan for the show into smaller episodes and three seasons. Photo: HT
New Delhi: Timed just ahead of the general election, the popular television show Satyamev Jayate is returning for its second season with its message of social awareness, at a cost of more than Rs.6 crore per episode.
The Aamir Khan-hosted show cost Rs.4 crore an episode to make last year. This year, it will cost Rupert Murdoch’s Star India Pvt. Ltd Rs.6.2 crore per episode, including film star Khan’s fee. Yet the entertainment network is happy to spend the money on what channel executives call “a show with a heart.”
That’s because, for one, the show has been strategically timed before the nation goes to elections that are due by May. The show goes on air on 2 March and will have five episodes.
Two, advertisers are willing to bet on Aamir Khan. Even in a slow economy, ad rates for this season are slightly higher than last year.
The short promotions, featuring Khan and made by advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather, unveil the central theme of Satyamev Jayate: “Jinhe desh ki fikr hai” (Those who care about this country).
Uday Shankar, chief executive, Star India, said the show is well-timed.
“We were very keen to do something before elections as we didn't want to distract the discourse during polls. We hope that this show will continue to play a role in enabling people to make an informed choice,” said Shankar.
Media buyers are betting on increased interest around the show as social consciousness is high during elections. “There is a lot of anticipation around the show, specifically because we are getting into the election mode and there are a lot of issues of national importance being discussed. It will be interesting to see Satyamev Jayate’s take on them as well,” said C.V.L. Srinivas, chief executive (South Asia), GroupM, a media buying agency part of WPP Plc.
Star has signed on Aamir Khan afresh after exhausting its 13-episode-deal with the star last year. However, this time round, the broadcaster has broken its deal into smaller episodes and three seasons. In March, the channel will restrict itself to five episodes, leaving the rest for another two seasons later this year.
“This time, we are reinventing the show format. The content being pushed out has to be in line with the ability of viewers to absorb and consume it. Since we deal with topics which shake your inner core, we thought we should offer fewer topics in one go and come back more frequently,” said Shankar.
Ad rates for the show have gone up 8-10%, according to media buyer estimates. A 10-second spot is worth Rs.11 lakh as opposed to Rs.10 lakh last season. “It’s not a commercial pursuit for us. We don’t do this show for financial considerations. Our goal is to emotionally stir people up,” said Shankar.
Although Star insists that the programme has not been produced with an eye on revenue, the two key sponsors of Season one—Airtel and Axis Bank—are back on the show.
The deal with title sponsor Bharti Airtel Ltd is estimated at Rs.18-20 crore. Axis Bank Ltd’s sponsorship tie-up is pegged at Rs.13 crore, according to senior media buyers in the advertising industry. The deal sizes could not be independently verified.
“It was a financially profitable deal.The show met our objectives both in terms of viewership and engagement. It’s a show which doesn’t get you just the eyeballs but also heavy engagement online plus offline conversations,” said Mohit Beotra, chief brand officer, Bharti Airtel.
However, he did not confirm the amount the telecom service provider is paying for sponsorship.
“Our media strategy is to get involved with impact properties which have disproportionate engagement,” added Beotra.
Rajiv Anand, president, retail banking, Axis Bank, said the show was a powerful initiative to drive social change and awareness. “As a brand, our core belief is that of progress. This gels well with the idea of Satyamev Jayate, which is also about change and development driving progress. We also partner with Satyamev Jayate as the primary donation collection entity, both offline and online,” said Anand.
The new sponsors on board this season are automobile maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, educational services company Aakash Educational Services Ltd and undergarments manufacturer Rupa Frontline. The principle of category exclusivity remains.
Queried on the absence of blockbuster associate sponsor, Shankar said it made more sense to go with smaller emerging brands as they offer better yields. “Big brands negotiate very hard.”