The fifth edition of KBC series (Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) is a popular TV show modelled on Who wants to be a millionaire) has just started on 15 Aug 2011. needless to say the host Amitabh Bachchan continues to be excellent with his diction and ability to charm the audiences.

I was particularly interested in the choices KBC gives to the hot seat participants (one slected to take the quiz). Basically you have four choices for each question. In the earlier KBC editions (before 2010) you had four lifelines which you could use if stck in a question:

- Phone a friend (call a friend/relative to help answer the q)
- Audience Poll (take a poll of the studio audience on the answers)
- Fifty Fifty (two answers are eliminated, leaving you with two choices.)
- Flip (question changes)

This has been changed from KBC4. Instead of flip there is ask an expert and Fifty 50 has been twisted to Double dip:

- Phone a friend (call a friend/relative to help answer the q)
- Audience Poll (take a poll of the studio audience on the answers)
- Double Dip (allows you to make two answers from the four choices)
- Ask an expert (now there is some expert amidst the audience who helps you answering the question)

So, Fifty-Fifty basically increased the probability of getting right answer to 50% (as two are eliminated). In double Dip you begin with 25% (one from four) and if wrong then 33% (one from three) for the final choice. Fifty-Fifty was clearly a better lifeline for the hot seaters. So, if KBC wants people to win more they should reintroduce 50-50.

I had read somewhere that surprisingly audience poll is very effective and phone a friend the least effective. But then people usually use audience poll for easy/medium-tough questions. People use friend help lifeline in tough questions and most of the time either time is over or the friend is confused. In a tough question (those with higher prize money), audience poll usually shows no clear majority.

Actually, it will be interesting to evaluate all these more empirically.

Another addition this time is the threshold level. The threshold level is the level which if you cross, you take minimum that amount. So say, the threshold is Rs. 3,20,000 and it is placed at 10th question. You answer 10 questions and take minimum that amount. In case you are unable to answer higher level questions, you still get Rs. 3,20,000. This was done so that people who cross certain levels should not return with zero amount.

So you had following thresholds:

- KBC 1 – Rs 10,000 (5th q); Rs 3,20,00o (10th q)
- KBC 2 and 3 (final amount raised from Rs 1 cr to Rs 2 cr, the threshold levels were doubled as well): Rs 20,000 (5th q); Rs 6,40,00o (10th q)
- KBC 4 (no of qs shortened to 13 from 15 and amount raised to 5 Cr): Rs 10,000 (2nd q); Rs 3,20,00o (7th q); Rs 1,00,00,000 (12th q)

In KBC 5 there is only one threshold and participant has to choose his level. So, a participant chooses the threshold as per his ability. But again KBC has made this unfavorable to hot seaters. People usually choose around 6th and 7th question and in case there is a wrong step before, they get nothing.

Infact this selection of threshold in few episodes so far, suffers from anchoring bias where people are selecting it based on KBC 4 (fresher in memories it was only a few months ago) which kept it at Rs 3,20,000. So, people are keeping it around that level. The sample is too small as of now. Need to see more episodes to figure this better.

Overall, KBC 4 and KBC 5 have made lives more difficult for hot seaters by giving them fewer choices and tougher lifelines….

August 21, 2011 at 12:28 am

I liked this post and your analysis on the entire situation. I have not caught any episodes of KBC 5 – but I am guessing the threshold might vary depending on the level of questions being asked as well.

So if an average contestant gets the first two – three questions without any help, and uses help each time for the remaining 4 questions, the 6th or the 7th levels look the safest to have your threshold at with maximum gains on minimum risk. After that, it might get riskier for an average contestant in my opinion.

August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I think the Double- Dip an 50-50 issue needs to be re-examined. As per me, in any questions, contestants may be confused between two choices and hence double dip means 100% win, while 50-50 less than 100 % (I don’t want to do the maths :))

October 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Nice article..i have an issue with the Double Dip 50-50 probability calculation..

In 50-50 the probability of winning is 50%

In Double Dip the probabilities are first chance 25% and second chance 33.33%. So the total probability is 25%+33.33%=58.33%

So Double Dip is better than 50-50 from the contestants perspective.

Comments welcome.

October 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

What I meant is at a given point of time. So if he takes 50-50, the probability is 50% right away, In double dip it is 25% first and then 33.3%. So yes, overall probability is higher in double dip, but at the point of answering the question, you have higher probability with 50-50. But yes it is a welcome point

December 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

it will be surprise to u that by maths calculation of probability we can prove that both double dip and 50-50 have same probability of correct answer.

as in 50-50 probability is 50% and double dip if in first choice our answer is correct our double dip will be wasted probability of correct will be 25% and now if our answer is wrong then probability of wrong 75% and then next choice probability of correct is 33.3% and now probability of correct will be

P=25%+75%*33.3%

P=50%