Indian 'Big Brother' Expands With Regional Language Versions

'Big Brother' India host Salman Khan
Viacom18 Colors

In addition to Endemol's flagship Hindi version of the reality series known as "Big Boss" in the country, a Viacom network will carry one of the new versions.

NEW DELHI – Endemol will expand its Big Brother franchise in India with two new regional-language versions, aiming to widen the show's reach beyond its existing flagship Hindi show.

Big Boss -- as it is known here -- will see a new south Indian Kannada language version debut in late March that will air on Viacom18's channel ETV Kannada. Another regional-language commission is due to be announced shortly; it is expected to air in the summer.

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Meanwhile, the popular Hindi version of Big Boss will enter its seventh season in autumn 2013, returning on Viacom18's Hindi flagship entertainment channel Colors. Popular Bollywood star Salman Khan has hosted two seasons of the Hindi version.

All three versions of the format will have a 14-week run of 98 episodes, including special two-hour launch and finale shows, totaling 100 hours of programming for each series. Endemol India will produce the new versions at a specially built set outside Mumbai, where the Hindi version is made. The latest commissions follow the recent news that Endemol India is to locally adapt Big Boss into a feature film.

“Given the diverse cultures and dialects in India, there is a large base of untapped audiences across the country for Big Boss," said Endemol India CEO Deepak Dhar. "The local and global success of this format speaks for itself, and we have been keen to replicate that in different languages here while adapting the drama and jeopardy of the show to regional tastes. Our aim is to make these the first of many similar deals for our formats.”

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India's 146 million television households -- the third-largest TV market after the U.S. and China -- are dominated by Hindi general entertainment channels, which command a 27 percent viewership share. Regional channels account for a 33.4 percent share, of which south Indian regional channels occupy 23.7 percent viewership, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and consultants KPMG India. The report also indicates that total TV advertising revenue for 2011 touched $2.32 billion (Rupees 116 billion), and that is expected to double to $4.6 billion (Rupees 230 billion) by 2016.

The business potential of expanding into regional markets also has led to other popular shows, such as the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, launching south Indian versions.

About 20 series of Big Brother are made each year and air in more than 60 countries. Markets where the show continues to be a hit include the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Israel as well as in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and Asia.