Campaign India Team
Aug 31, 2013

‘Pawn Stars’ in whirlwind India tour

Rick Harrison recounts that no one bought the show for years in the US; Ritu Kapur explains the India launch led by instinct, going against research

‘Pawn Stars’ in whirlwind India tour

Rick Harrison and his son Corey, members of the cast of US reality series on History ‘Pawn Stars’, moved location from Vegas to Agra on Thursday, 29 August. Their debut India tour started with a visit to the Taj Mahal.

The senior Harrison was the one who came up with the idea of the show. He went around marketing it to several producers and TV channels before History took it on.

In conversation with Campaign India, he recalled, “We thought it would be interesting as content. It has the elements of a reality show with different content each week. We took it to network after network for years but no one bought it. We then went to Leftfield Pictures and they sold it in a matter of two months. Ever since it aired on History (2009), the response has been extremely high.”

On changes to the format since the show started airing, he said, “We’ve just continued with it. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, as they say. There’s no point in changing it around – in the US, it has been among the top three shows each week.”

In India, the show has been airing on History TV18 and has been ‘extremely successful’, informed Ritu Kapur, programming head, A+E Networks I TV18. She was admittedly hesitant about introducing a show of such a format (dealing with a gold and silver pawn shop in Vegas and American artefacts), given that History TV18 reaches out in India to a ‘lot more than the English-speaking SEC A viewers’.

She explained, “We went by instinct and against research on this one. We were a little apprehensive - when we showed short edits of the show in focused groups, the feedback that came was not very positive. ‘Why would we want to see old things?’ was one such feedback. But we knew that the format had done fabulously well in the US, and also Europe and SE Asian markets. We sat and watched it ourselves in groups (across the network) before deciding to air it. I’ve been tremendously surprised by its success. It’s been a top rated show and we’re about to air the 100th episode in September (2013).”

There was some calibration of the marketing efforts in line with research findings though. The show was positioned in India weaving in the family business angle, around the plot involving grandfather, father and grandson. And around how old stuff lying around the house could help create a fortune. It airs in Hindi, English and other regional languages.

“It’s an easy-to-watch reality format, which helps position the channel as younger. And it’s evident from the banter among viewers that we’re witnessing on Facebook,” surmised Kapur.

The two visiting Harrisons leave for Vegas today, 30 August. Their 24-hour pawn shop beckons.

Campaign India

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