A new set of killers are on loose in the air!

Yes serial killers, that’s what they are. Right from Amitabh Bachchan to Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan to Akshay Kumar, Madhuri Dixit to Priyanka Chopra, each of them has been accused of being serial killers. No, not the kind of serial killers that are there on the hit list of the police but of the television kind.

KBCWe are talking about reality/game shows hosted by top film stars that are proving a death knell to the television serials that are aired at the same time as these reality shows on rival channels. Due to sheer star power, these shows garner much higher TRPs (Television Rating Points) as compared to other programmes aired on rival channels.  TAM Media Research, which monitors TV viewership, has reportedly mentioned that reality shows have enjoyed a higher rate of success than other programmes aired simultaneously on other channels.

What started this trend was the iconic game show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on Star Plus that was hosted by an equally iconic superstar Amitabh Bachchan in 2000. KBC not only boosted the TRPs but also pushed Star Plus to the numero uno position that so far was occupied by another channel. 9 p.m. was the time the nation stood still to see and listen to the Big B say in his rich baritone voice, ‘Computerji… lock kiya jaaye’. Soon, other film stars emulated Mr Bachchan and we had Shahrukh Khan hosting the third season of KBC and ‘Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hai? on Star Plus.

The original khiladi Akshay Kumar opting to go with his image, hosted Khatron Ke Khiladi – Season 1 on Colors. Even ‘ek do teen’ girl Madhuri Dixit couldn’t stay away from the small screen limelight and became a part of ‘Kahin Na Kahin Koii Hai’ on Sony TV in 2002, though the show didn’t really leverage the kind of TRP it had set its eyes on.  Priyanka Chopra, the dare devil that she often portrays on the big screen didn’t hesitate to host Khatron Ke Khiladi – Season 3 on Colors. Salman Khan too was not to be left behind and he hosted ‘Dus Ka Dum’ on Sony TV with the producers ensuring he kept his shirt on. Salman Khan followed ‘Dus Ka Dum’ with ‘Bigg Boss – Season 4’ on Colors. The dons of the earlier versions of Bigg Boss were Arshad Warsi, Shilpa Shetty and Amitabh Bachchan.

So what we have now is Amitabh Bachchan (Kaun Banega Crorepati 4), Salman Khan (Bigg Boss 4) and Akshay Kumar (Masterchef India) fighting for a different cause altogether – the highest TRP for their respective reality/game shows that are currently on air.

While these superstars slug it out on the small screen, the channels are raking in big moolahs through advertisements. As per the FICCI-KPMG report, Hindi General Entertainment Channels garner about Rs.2,200 of ad revenue annually and the channels have set their eyes on a major slice of the ad revenue pie. To get a bite of this yummy pie, together, the three channels airing Kaun Banega Crorepati 4, Bigg Boss 4 and Masterchef India have forked out a little over Rs 100 crore just to get the celebrities to anchor their mega programmes. Kyon ke bada payment toh banta hai Boss!

And in turn, these super stars with their reality shows are turning nemesis to the serials that are aired on rival channels at the same time. It’s just a matter of time before the cast and crew of these serials took to the street to condemn these superstars before their reality/game shows push their serials off air, rendering them jobless. And what will television be without all the saas and the bahus and the ballikas and the vadhus? Go ask the viewers who are glued day in and day out to these tearjerking serials. Computerji, superstars ko lock kiya jaaye!

(Published in 2010)