New Delhi: In a genre as expendable as a music television channel, which runs on similar and fairly limited content, one would have thought that youth-focussed channels like MTV or VH1 would be market leaders.
But that’s not the case. A strangely spelt music channel, Mastiii, owned by Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Limited (SABTNL), has been number one for close to five years now.
Data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India for the week of 24-30 September, 2016 shows 115,466 impressions for Mastiii compared to B4U, the number two channel at 75,871 impressions.
Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. BARC India is the country’s TV viewership monitoring agency.
The success story, to a large extent, industry experts say, is based on the way the channel has meticulously captured the rural market.
While Mastiii’leads at an all-India level with a 20% share of the music market, followed by B4U at 13%, its share of the rural market is 24% followed by B4U at 17%. But its share of the urban Indian market is far lower at 17%, followed by B4U at 10%. It also dominates the rural Hindi-speaking markets at 23%, followed by B4U at 18%.
Unlike channels with a music-plus-youth focus—such as Zing, MTV and 9X—Mastiii has chosen to focus on the pure music model to appeal to its rural audience.
“We’ve come a long way from the era of MTV video jockeys. People don’t want to listen to people talking. For a vast rural audience, I don’t think content matters so much. They just want songs and basic entertainment through music. The strength of rural is being leveraged better by Mastiii (than by others),” said Vimal Parthasarathy, senior principal partner, south and west, media, Dentsu Media, the media arm of integrated advertising agency Dentsu India Group.
Further, packaging, which is crucial to a genre that plays on similar and limited content, is something Mastiii seems to be doing better than others, Parthasarathy added. For one, several songs are bundled together without breaks—shows like Mastiii Doubles and Love Kal Aaj aur Kal are examples. There is some non-music programming but only as long as it plays back to music: one of the channel’s most popular shows, for example, is The Golden Era with Annu Kapoor, a nostalgic take on Indian cinema, complete with anecdotes on classic films and music interspersed with songs.
The highest spikes for viewership for the channel happen in the 6:30 am-12 noon slot with a peak at 9 am and then again between 4-7pm.
“I guess people are getting ready for work and the channel is playing in the background. You don’t have to be actively watching. So it’s replacing the age-old radio,” Parthasarathy said. “Are they actually watching or just listening is the question. But it’s (the channel) still doing its job.”
Consumer behaviour studies have taught all music channels including Mastiii much. As long as the language communicates, a good product reverberates across audience.
“There are different strategies that different companies and brands undertake to deliver against their consumer expectations. While all this is very important when you’re running a business, it’s more important to stay true to the consumer promise,” said Vijay Subramaniam, vice-president, content and communications, Media Networks, Disney India whose music channel Bindass Play is focused on urban young adults and actively uses social media to engage with them.
“We are very clear who that consumer is and continuously super-serve them. Mastiii is a great example of that, their mix is very different in that they have a huge orientation to the rural market as well.”
To be sure, there is more to the numbers that Mastiii notches up than is evident.
“Mastiii is top of the pops but that’s at a broad, all-India level. If you cut to various constituents, this whole thing bunches up,” said Parthasarathy. “So while at an all-India level, there’s at least a 7 percentage point difference in shares (with the second-ranked channel), when you look at the six mega-cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, the pointer slightly shifts. It’s a leader there as well but you have a slightly evolved Sony Mix which is nipping away at its heels. So the gap is not that wide—from a 7 percentage points all-India, it shifts to 3 percentage points in the six mega-cities.”