This one’s going to be a rant where I blast the heck out of this TV program called Bid2Win.
You watch this TV program where TV stars come on and tell you about this latest object of desire – the latest gizmo, gadget, device or whatever that you really, really want. What you’ve got to do is bid for the lowest price on the gadget by sending them SMS messages. You can thus (allegedly) “win” this really expensive device for literally peanuts.
The hosts urge you to to SMS whatever price you think will “win”. They insist that the more you SMS, the more your chances of “winning”.
How all this is supposed to work is that a whole lot of people out of the viewership of the program SMS repeatedly into the program’s SMS number, the minimum price they think will bid for the particular product. The hosts suggest that you should SMS the coolest price – only the “coolest” price will win. This cannot factually be true; the actual winning bid is the minimum price that a single person bid. The on-screen graphics that run during the program display this story well enough; they repeatedly display what the number of prices that have not been SMSed below a certain minimum price by viewers.
The viewers try to guess what numbers have not been SMSed. The program lets you bid for a 24 hour period, the time difference between the two shows. Bid2Win then displays yesterday’s winner in the program.
The program talks about you sending SMS messages repeatedly for each bid. Alternatively you can use your telephone to call the Bid2Win number where their IVR system will pick up and you can put your bids in.
What they don’t stress on, enough (and should):
- Each SMS you send them is going to cost your Rs. 10/-
- Each minute you spend trying to figure out how to use, and then actually end up putting your bids in is going to be charged at Rs.6/- per minute.
What they don’t tell you:
- Sending of SMS messages only works with Airtel mobile phones.
- I think the call-in number will also only work with Airtel mobile phones as well.
- The number of wins that are possible. From what they seem to say, I think there is only, I repeat, ONLY one such device to be one, because they’re visibly announcing only one winner.
How they make their money:
Size of viewership who actually send them SMS messages, cumulatively MULTIPLIED by the number of SMS messages MULTIPLIED by 10
Size of viewership who actually use their IVR system MULTIPLIED by the number of minutes they use the system, cumulatively MULTIPLIED by 6
And this is done, daily.
Now can anyone guess the approximate viewership that this kind of program has, daily? I’m sure it is in the scale of figures where the number of digits really look insane.
So you thought you were getting that yummy, scrunchy must-have, brand new gadget/device/gizmo for cheap? Easily?
Cost of average device that is displayed? Under a lakh of Rupees? Typically under 50 thousand.
Considering every combination for under Rs. ten, then you have 10 + 10 * 99 combinations. That’s 1000 combinations for a sure shot “chance” to win. At Rs.10 per SMS, that’s Rs. 10,000/- to make it a very costly chance, I’d say.
Because you’re one person in millions watching. Which lowers the chance of you “winning” anything signifcantly.
I’d put up the concept right up there with gambling on a roulette table in a casino in Las Vegas. The house always wins. No matter what you do, remember this in any gambling scenario – the house always wins. All gambling games are designed that way, including Bid2Win.
The people behind Bid2Win: From some initial research it turns out that Bid2Win is one of the most successful programs in UK and has been repackaged to suit India.
The same company that started Bid2Win in the UK, continues to power monetization using mobile (and other new) media in all it’s forms. The company’s name is Cellcast and admittedly they do claim to be at this for a long time, 1998.
And I’ll be surprised if their offerings works well in India as well. They have the know how and the experience, they just need to adapt it to the Indian market, which they seem to be doing well.
My whole point with writing all this is that looking at where we’re headed with all this on public television really upsets me. Looking at it from my viewpoint I feel they are actually fooling the audience into spending gigantic amounts of money on a particularly small service being offered. All with the detailed organization and power of an MNC who knows the game inside out. Getting the end consumer hooked into thinking that they are spending less while they’re actually “bidding” to get something that isn’t really worth the effort and the pain that viewers go through.
Above all it’s such a crass way of doing it. Look at another program that my family seems to be addicted to: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa: Ek duje ke liye. This particular program has it’s singing contestants come on to stage and literally plead with the audience to vote for them by sending SMS messages as detailed. And they have more network operators support than just Airtel, which means many more participating viewers, which means much more money for them.
And then companies like CellCast go ahead and coin new terms like Participation TV for something that’s been around for a very long time: How to make money selling something in a win-lose situation.
My simple advice to all the people who don’t understand any of this and are just curious about participating on these shows: