Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SRK is game for smart fun

SRK was signed by Star TV to host KBC for two years with an option to do more seasons. However, after doing one season, which ended in April last year, Star Plus is launching a brand new game show with Shah Rukh as host. The new show is based on Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader, the biggest global hit of the past year and is said to have a bigger, better and far more exciting format than KBC.

Produced by Siddhartha Basu’s Synergy Adlabs for Star Plus, the title of the new game show is yet to be decided. When contacted for more details about the show’s format and whether it has as big prize money as KBC, Basu refused to comment. "All I can say right now is that Shah Rukh Khan will be hosting the Indian version of Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader, the biggest global hit of the past year, which will be produced by Synergy Adlabs," said Basu. He also refused to comment on why a new game show is being launched with Shah Rukh instead of going ahead with the fourth season of KBC as decided before.

However, according to Keertan Adyanthaya, executive vice president and general manager of Star Plus, KBC has not been dumped yet. "We have the contract and we will revive the show some time in future. But right now we are working on this brand new show which has a huge format and is a hit show in as many as 50 countries," he added.

Adyanthaya further said that Star Plus is a pioneering company in television programming. "We believe in innovating and offering fresh, bigger and better content," he said. When asked about the prize money, Adyanthaya said the format of the new show includes big prize money. "But we are still debating over the amount," he added.

Sources in Star say that the new show also has a quiz format where one contestant will make it to the hot seat and scale levels to reach the final stage for the big prize money. The questions however, will not be of general interest. "As the title suggests, the questions will be of academic interest that students of first to fifth standards study," said the Star Plus sources.

There is a lot of speculations on why Star opted for a new show instead of a new season of KBC. After all, KBC marked Shah Rukh’s return to television, where he began his acting career 17 years ago. and it was indeed Khan’s grand ‘homecoming’. Industry experts are of the view that KBC has lost much of its appeal and curiosity. "The novelty factor has worn out and it looks like one of the ‘done to death’ shows. A longer break is a better alternative to make the show work again," says a media analyst.

The reason behind launching the third season of KBC in January last year was to ward off intense competition from Zee which was inching its way close to Star Plus in prime time viewership share. KBC did turn the tide in Star’s favour for three months but post-April 2007, Zee bounced back in the competition and gave Star a huge run for its money at prime time. The picture is not rosy for Star anymore. According to latest TAM data, for week 4 of 2008 (January 20 to 26), Star Plus’s prime time share was 36.0 per cent as against 34.3 of Zee. A brand new show can turn the tide once again in Star’s favour just as KBC did seven-and-a-half years ago.