SHOWBIZ

A 24-Hour clock is set. Kapil Mantri,executive assistant to chairman,Jindal Power,faces untried challenges at Agarwal Packers & Movers.

Written by Prabhjot Sohal | Published:September 20, 2010 11:04 pm

Since entertainment rules India’s small screen,business channels now play it as their trump card
A 24-Hour clock is set. Kapil Mantri,executive assistant to chairman,Jindal Power,faces untried challenges at Agarwal Packers & Movers. He has to deal with irate customers,fix a broken van on the way and more — while he tries to meet the deadlines and complete the tasks assigned to him. Mantri tries hard to avoid mistakes as his every move is recorded and later aired.

The reality show,The Assignment,does not promise fame or money. There are 13 contestants — one for every week — but no winners. Still,the show that premiered on Saturday evening is special. For,this can lay claim to be India’s first reality show on a business channel. Known to deal with statistics and sensex,Bloomberg UTV now wants to offer a slice of general entertainment. It’s a very calculated move,made with eyes on returns (read higher TRPs). Vivek Malhotra,vice-president marketing,Bloomberg UTV,confirms the latest wave of redefining business content. “We have recently undertaken a re-branding exercise and are steadily progressing towards being the differentiated ‘blunt and sharp’ player in the business news space,” he says.

The Assignment will soon be followed by The Pitch — another reality and business task-driven show which goes on air in October. This show will search for the best entrepreneurial ideas and finally reward the one with best mind and executional skills with a really fat pay packet of Rs 5 crore. Bloomberg UTV’s motive behind such a huge investment is clear. “Shows like these will help us get an edge over our competitors. We are creating our own genre of business reality shows. We intend to tap a bigger segment of viewers who are looking for that variety,” says Malhotra.

Reality shows might be a new concept on business channels,but they have always experimented with content bordering on ‘entertainment’. That’s because business channels have often emulated the mainstream channels’ programming in many ways. For example,the celebrity interview formats have been adopted by a number of B-channels. CNBC TV-18 has Beautiful People which gives a peek into celebrities’ minds. NDTV Profit’s All In The Family and Big Interview profile the lives of the beautiful and the famous. Lifestyle and fashion shows like NDTV Profit’s books related show — Just Books,Big Spenders and One Life To Love add a fair share of glitz to the channel’s business-heavy content. Technology shows are another popular genre that has found a place in business channels. In fact,they have come to enjoy more popularity on business channels. CNBC TV-18’s Tech Toyz and NDTV Profits’ Gadget Guru and Cell Guru delve into the interesting details related to gadgets and their technology — making it easy for common viewers to understand them.

Saket Saurabh,brand head,CNBC TV-18 says,“Business audiences prefer a wider gamut of special interest and feature programming,especially on weekends,ranging from lifestyle to the latest in technology and advertising,from leadership to global perspectives. So,we are catering to the evolving viewers needs.” He also agrees that channel’s entertainment-based shows like Young Turks,Storyboard,Tech Toyz,Beware and Overdrive are very popular. This has prodded the channel to introduce a show based on women,XX Factor. “It is on the evolution of modern India women and the issues they tackle in their careers and lifestyle,” he adds.

There is a conscious attempt to add glamour and fun to shows. Bloomberg UTV has roped in celebrity hosts — Cyrus Sahukar for The Assignment and Boman Irani for The Pitch. “We have chosen to have celebrities like Boman and Cyrus host the shows as we did not want a very old school like feel to them,” says Malhotra. Sahukar,a self-proclaimed business show addict,says,“India is a booming market. There is a wide audience for business news,and such interesting shows will help people look at business in an uncomplicated manner. Besides,this is not like a typical reality show. There is no over-the-top drama. It is meant for a discerning audience.” Irani’s reason for doing The Pitch is more personal. “I resonate with the show because my son is starting his own business. I am sure many other people would be able to relate to it. It will enhance their entrepreneurial skills,” he says.

The success of reality shows on business channels cannot be gauged right now. It nevertheless offers an entertaining package and a different perspective on money and career.