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Music channels change tune to retain viewership

Music channels change tune to retain viewership
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First Published: Tue, Sep 01 2009. 12 24 AM IST

Graphics: Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint
Graphics: Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint
The team at Channel V could themselves qualify as contestants on the channel’s new reality show,Exhausted. The show that tests the ability of contestants to stay awake for 48 hours non-stop while performing a series of physically challenging tasks is part of the new programming line-up that the channel announced in August and its team has worked overtime to put on air.
Youth appeal: Shots from the MTV programme Stunt Mania.
Core to the change is the insight that music works but the youth wants more. Channel V, which was last in the No. 1 spot two years ago, is currently No. 4. In a bid to turn that around it has planned a programme mix that’s 65% music and 35% non-music shows. Prem Kamath, general manager, Channel V, says, “The youth is beginning to access genres beyond just music and when it comes to TV entertainment, there are several areas which we call hot buttons for the youth; be it relationships, recreation, looks and grooming, you’ll find everything we’re doing on Channel V now reflects these areas.”
Reality television—from game shows to dating shows to user-generated content in the form of video blogs —is the buzz generator on music channels. MTV, which is No. 1 today, went through a revamp two years ago, consciously reducing the volume of music on the channel from 75% and 80% to 40 % today. MTV general manager Ashish Patil expects the channel’s music content to drop to 25% by year-end. He says revenue has increased twofold since 2007 and ad rates jumped by as much as 40%.
Today, music channels together earn about Rs200 crore in ad revenue a year, which is less than 1% of the total TV ad pie, with Vodafone, TVS Scooty, Limca, Hero Honda and Axe deodorants being some of the most advertised brands. But while music channels’ revenues have doubled in the past year, they have had to devise fresh strategies to keep attracting the advertisers. MTV claims that Roadies, which is in its seventh season, and Stunt Mania that’s in its first season, are series that are and can be tailormade to suit brand requirements.
Graphics: Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint
Patil, describing the impact of Stunt Mania, revealed that sales of Bajaj Auto Ltd’s Pulsar motorcycle were up by 30% within six weeks of the show’s launch.
But chanting the interactive, reality show mantra is not enough. Today, there are non-music youth channels that are competing directly with music channels such as UTV’s Bindass that’s at No. 3. The Times Group’s Zoom, a lifestyle and film-based channel, is at No. 2.
Interestingly, 9xm, that shares the No. 1 position with MTV, shot to the top within two weeks of its launch in October 2007. While this can be partly attributed to the fact that it was aired on a prime band frequency originally reserved for INX Media’s news channel, 9xm head Vikas Verma believes the fact that it’s 100% music and plays entire songs without any help from video jockeys, or VJs, is keeping both viewers and advertisers happy.
But the challenge to music channels is not just from new rivals doing things differently. The world of the 18-25-year-olds today fans out way beyond television to include mutiplexes, malls, coffee shops, video games, live events and, last but not the least, the World Wide Web.
Shashank Ghosh, who launched MTV and Channel V in India and last week successfully took the Channel V filler property and character Quick Gun Murugun to celluloid, says that 13 years later there is a world of a difference. “Today the world is available on the Internet and I think one of the biggest things is that you know the whole usage end of it. For the youth, everything is instantly accessible on call and that’s a challenge for TV”, says Ghosh.
Till a year ago, brands that wanted to tap the youth segment spent about 95% of their ad budget on TV with the balance on print. Today, the ratio has changed, with 80% on TV, 10% on other media and the remaining 10% committed to the digital media.
Waking up to that reality, music and youth channels today ensure that all programmes have online extensions that go beyond the token micro-site contests and feedback aggregators.
For instance, Channel V’s Launchpad, which is a hunt for the best rock band in India, will from now on be treated more as a live and online event, with the TV show pretty much taking care of itself. Depending on the main sponsor, the channel will tailor-make on-ground and online properties that resonate with young people.
Music channels know that if they don’t deliver what the young audience wants today, they will simply lose them.cnbctv18@livemint.com
Storyboard airs tonight at 7.30pm on CNBC-TV18
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First Published: Tue, Sep 01 2009. 12 24 AM IST