Consulting|Technology|International business

Kaun Banega Crorepati?

with 5 comments

So, who really became a Crorepati in the recently concluded KBC series?

For the uninitiated, KBC or “Kaun Banega Crorepati” is India’s answer to the UK’s “Who wants to be a millionnaire”.

My answer is: Shahrukh Khan (SRK), AirTel and a couple of other sponsors!


The answer is ludicrously simple! What is the strategy adopted?

SRK probably gets paid a couple of crores per episode so he is one winner.

AirTel earns crores of rupees and therefore they become crorepati’s as well. Did not understand the economics? For this, one needs to understand as to how KBC exactly works.

The KBC architecture is simple. You have 15 questions. You start from Rs. 1000 and go on till Rs. 2 crore. You have two intermediate stages in-between at Rs. 20000 and Rs. 6,40,000 to help you salvage some lost pride in the event of an incorrect response at a crucial high risk stage.

If you cross Rs. 20000 and you are at Rs. 3,20,000 and you reply incorrectly, you will still take home Rs. 20000 only.  Same logic with you being on Rs. 25 lacs vying for a Rs. 50 lac question but you get it wrong, you are bang back to Rs. 6,40,000. This is the risk one has to take. You are provided with 4 lifelines (one of the lifelines comes after you cross the Rs. 20000 threshold). You have SRK throwing in his antiques throughout the show to keep you comfortable as he is the show anchor.

A simple calculation

You have a Har seat hot seat contest on KBC. How many people view KBC? Almost close to 5 million people (pessimistic – I would say during his heydays, it caught on a viewship of almost 15-20 million people!).

Out of this, how many call KBC for either participating to get onto the hot seat DAILY? My guesstimate: A cool 20% of this or 1 million people and another half a million going in for SMS or text messaging.

So, what is the revenue to AirTel through this? Rs. 2 per phone call multiplied by 1 million people (10 lac people) = Rs. 2 million or 0.2 crore rupees per day. Rs. 6 per SMS multiplied by 5 lac people  = Rs. 3 million per day.

You leave a Government tax of Rs. 1 or Rs. 2 per SMS or phone call via an AirTel mobile also, and you discount like mad but AirTel still pockets a cool Rs. 3 million (a pessimistic estimate!).

As though that was not enough, KBC introduced yet another concept that was hugely successful. There came a concept called Khelo India Saath Saath. How does this work? Simple. You answer the questions before the contestent responds to it and you might stand to win Rs. 1 lac per question. How many try this. My guesstimate: at least 3 million people. Easy money is never said no to – you are playing on people’s emotions to try to seek that easy way out to make money – ok, what is the probability of getting through as a ‘winner’ of the Khelo Indian saath saath? 1 in about 3 million or 1/30,000 %. This is possibly worse than the odds of hitting the jackpot in a Casino game where the odds are again stacked against the player. Yet, people play this game – some for the intellect that some of the tougher questions offer (I am one of them) – given Siddharth Basu’s shows are known for their intellectually challenging questions. The same was with Mastermind India that would get telecast sometime back in India. Those were really of high caliber and I would look forward to watching every episode.

Lets come back to good old public favorite, KBC. Ok, based on the Khelo India saath saath stats (Caveat: all figures are hypothetical), that translates to another Rs. 2 phone calls being made to AirTel so that gives them an additional revenue of Rs. 5 million or 0.5 crore rupees DAILY for 4 days a week when this was introduced after this concept was introduced (you are again discounting the Rs. 1 paid to Government as taxes etc.)

Let us also not forget to add that there is a tie-up between Vijay TV and Star TV so Tamilians can afford to view their favorite SRK in their very own language. So, add some more viewers to that telecast.

Now, lets come to probability theory and chances of a contestant getting to the Rs. 2 crore question. The questions are usually computer adaptive. They start getting tougher as one starts reaching the upper threhold of Rs. 20000 and Rs. 6.4 lacs (the two lower circuit breakers or cut-off’s designed to help contestants bailing out).

Does greed overcome reality or does greed get overpowered by the fear of losing money? For the former, I doubt it – in 99% of the cases where the contestant bails out or as they say in KB parlance, “Gale milo” or “Gimme a hug”; for the latter, I am sure it works that way.

Out of every 10 contestants who played KBC this series with SRK, only 2 of them took chances towards the Rs. 50 lac question mark. This notwithstanding that they are only 2 steps away from Rs. 2 crores.

This is simple cost-benefit analysis. IF one were to get a Rs. 50 lac to Rs. 1 crore question wrong at that stage, one stands to lose Rs. 43.6 lacs! A large sum indeed. The risk is extremely high.

Out of the 104-odd episodes shot with SRK, about 20-odd contestants might have got past the Rs. 12.5 lac mark to the Rs. 25 lac question. The degree of toughness of questions increases exponentially. Lifelines given by KBC arn’t of much use either since the audience polls usually tends to go with a simple utterance of a choice answer (1 out of the 4 given) by the contestant (The contestant would be better off keeping mum when one were to offer the question to audience for an audience poll to get the true picture). The distribution of audience responses to tough questions for which the audience would not know the answer is usually a distributed one with something like 24%, 25%, 28% and 23%. This shows the audience have no clue.

Furthermore, the obvious is never right at that stage. So, what one thinks is right almost always has an invariable flip-flop to it.

So, among the contestants, how many won Rs. 2 crores after 104 long arduous episodes? The anwer: None. Why? Law of probability (producer point of view!) and the fear of loosing money (contestant point of view!).

This contest is designed more to satiate the appetite of the sponsors, the producers and the public who usually cannot see big picture are the real ‘bakras’ who stand to lose.

There was some talk of SRK losing TRP ratings vis-a-vis the Big B. I doubt it. SRK brought his own unique charisma to the show and while both were good in their own right, SRK’s series had a touch of youth attached as the producers assured us it would.

I have nothing against KBC. Actually on the contrary I like to watch it for its series of questions at the tougher stages and I appreciate Star-TV’s efforts in that direction. However, this is not a “easy to become rich” kind of a show. As you saw with a simple example above, the rich get richer and the poor become poorer by Rs. 2 or Rs. 6 per call/SMS respectively made to AirTel in the hope they can make it to that elite 10 contendors for the hot seat position or better still the other contests KBC puts up.

The winners: SRK and AirTel.

Congratulations guys!


Written by Naveen Athresh

April 22, 2007 at 11:29 am

5 Responses

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  1. i win rs.1lac

    hitesh verma

    August 12, 2007 at 2:55 pm

  2. india very good

    rajiv kumar

    August 31, 2007 at 12:16 pm

  3. Hi I am Tara Chand. I want to know that how i become a crorepati. Where and how i play game in which by this i win prize.

    Tara Chand

    March 10, 2008 at 12:12 am

  4. being a crorepati is feeling very proud for own and also for family members. i hope i could also won by fortune favour.

    rahul chatterjee

    May 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm

  5. i want to play kaun banega crore pati on the computer,but how?


    October 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm

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