Will switching to youth ent work for V?

26 Jun,2012


By Meghna Sharma


Prem Kamath

Launched 16 years ago as a music channel, Star India’s Channel V is now turning into a full-fledged youth entertainment channel. Starting July 1, V will stop airing music programmes in India and focus on fiction and non-fiction shows. The reason: “Over the last two years, there has been an explosion of ‘music only’ channels, but everyone’s playing identical playlists,” says Prem Kamath, executive vice-president and general manager at Channel V. “In order to grow as a channel and as a brand, it has always been critical to have an offering that is unique in our competitive space,” he adds on being quizzed on the decision.


Many experts feel that it was bound to happen as more and more channels try to mould themselves to stay connected with what their target audience wants. But there many questions arise: could this mean the beginning of the end of music on TV? What is the future of music genre? Where is it headed?


The beginning

The scene for Indian music channels was set with the launch of MTV in the early 90s. Soon after, Channel V was launched in 1994, and since then there has been no looking back.


The launch of these music channels also led to a boom in international as well as Indie pop culture. However, it was shortlived and Bollywood music took over, and the two channels, along with many other launched afterwards, started playing popular filmi songs. But over a period of time, these two channels moved beyond playing only music with shows like Roadies, Splitsvilla and Dare 2 Date.


Hemant Kenkre

According to music columnist Narendra Kusnur, somewhere down the line for these channels, music took a backseat: “I’m sure any channel would do thorough research while trying to change their gameplan. So, if a music channel shifting towards being a youth entertainment channel is proved beneficial – for viewership as well as revenue – then it wouldn’t harm them to take such a step.”


He’s not alone in voicing this. Even Hemant Kenkre, a former music channel professional and a corporate and brand communications veteran, feels that channels are now branding themselves differently to reach out to their TG. He, however, does blame the availability of music on various platforms – radio, cellphones, laptops, iPods – as the reason for this shift. “Today, the youth is moving towards reality shows and they want it from the channels meant for them. As for music, they get their share of it from other mediums too.”


Luke Kenny

Former VJ, musician, actor and 9XO programming head Luke Kenny, on the other hand, feels that the channel (Channel V) decided to shift long back and has been moving slowly towards it, but there are still many who want music on television. “If music was dead on TV, then how would you explain other new music channels cropping up and doing well too?”


He added: “Having said that, I do believe that with more channels showcasing Bollywood songs, music channels have lost their niche and have just became promotional channels. Therefore, if a channel decides to change colours, it might work. And you never know, Star India might come up with a new music channel called Music OK.”


Industry talk

If one takes a look at various channels, be it music or a GEC, they will find that, there is a great deal of music in some or the other. We have music trailers/songs aired across all channels. Award shows, too, have musical performances and talent shows like Saregama, Indian Idol, DID and even celeb dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa  are high on ratings.


Mohit Joshi

Therefore, according to media planners, the existence of specialised music channels is a difficult game. “Today, unfortunately for the masses in India, music equals to Bollywood. This is the challenge. This was not the case in the ’90s when there were a lot of private music albums that were launched -Silk Route et al, and the music channels were used for their amplification. So, there was something more than Bollywood, which is not the case today. In the current scenario, if music channels do not experiment with music or the content, then there is a fear that they will dilute their relevance over a period of time,” says Mohit Joshi, managing director, MPG India.


Adds Carat Media India’s senior VP Himanka Das: “Channel V’s decision to discontinue music is a welcome change and would offer interesting opportunities to build engagement content with the youth, considering the very little content that is available to them in entertainment beyond music. Music as a genre gets 6-7 per cent share in the youth segment of viewers with Channel V contributing 24 per cent to this share amongst 20+ channels. Channel V vacating this space is someone else’s gain!”


Punit Pandey

Meanwhile, other music channels aren’t perturbed and are waiting to see how the channel is accepted in its new avatar. As per TAM (CS4+, All India market), there has been a consistent growth in the music genre. In 2007, the genre share of music channels was 2.02 per cent whereas in 2012 (till week 24) the share has grown to 3.62 per cent.


Punit Pandey, senior VP and business head, 9X Media Group, agreed with Mr Das and added: “Music has, and will continue to, work on television. It is close to a Rs360-370 crore industry (in the HSM belt) and growing. More and more people are ‘watching’ music, so there is nothing to worry about for music channels at large.”


Nikhil Gandhi

Similarly, the view from UTV Bindass which started out as a Youth Entertainment Channel (YEC) and has been a pioneer in the segment is that though in the recent past music channels, especially MTV and Channel V, have started shifting focus from music to fictional and non-fictional shows, there is no reason for sleepless nights. “We have an advantage over other channels entering the YEC genre as we have already created a connect with the TG,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Disney UTV Executive Director – Youth Channels, Media Networks. And adds an alert: “So, I would like to tell other channels entering the YEC genre to work on their strategies well.”


Apprehensive marketers?

The change in positioning is due to the feeling that youngsters now have a strong spending power. And, hence, are targeted by various brands more than ever before. TV forms a core part of advertisement for these brands as youngsters also spend a lot of time in front of the television sets.


Simeran Bhasin

But what happens to youth brands if a channel changes its content strategy? According to the various marketing heads, the apprehensions will emerge if the channel isn’t clear about the shift and isn’t able to help a brand reach its TG.


“If the TG of a brand matches that of the channel, it won’t matter if they decide to change over a period of time. However, if there is a shift in TG then a brand would think twice before advertising on that channel,” says Simeran Bhasin, head – Marketing and Retail, Fastrack.



Harkirat Singh

MTV’s latest show Sound Trippin was partnered by Woodland because the brand feels that youth oriented channels helps them reach their TG. However, the brand is clear that it get associated with channels or shows only if it feels there is a connect between the brand and the viewers. “Like any other brand, while media planning, the TG of a certain channel is important for us. We look for shows which are able to reach and connect with our TG. So, if a channel changes its content plan, we will want to go through their new strategy to figure out where do we figure and how it can benefit us,” says Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland.


Will the shift work?

According to the industry professionals, the change in content plan by a channel is done after a lot of research and only time can decide if it will work in its favour or not. However, they believe that a channel should remain true to its philosophy because otherwise it will lose its identify as well.


Samyak Chakrabarty

Expanding on it, Samyak Chakrabarty, MD, Electronic Youth Media Group and Chief Youth Marketer, DDB Mudra Group believes that ‘youth’ is a very misunderstood word and youngsters cannot be defined in one category as all depends on the exposure and the background one comes from. “In their perception to become ‘youth’ channels, they are getting muddled up and don’t know where they are headed. Today, a youngster cannot associate MTV or Channel V with anything like they do for other brands. For instance, technology means iPad, connectivity means Blackberry etc. I think music channels should have remained with what they started as, instead of losing their identify to gain more TRPs. Such moves will only lead to their downfall, in the long term.”


From being largely optimistic to one predicting a downfall, we received mixed reactions to the proposed change in Channel V’s identity. However, one thing is clear, no matter what Star India decides, there will be many who will wait to see what this mean for them and the genre, at large.



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2 responses to “Will switching to youth ent work for V?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    good bold move by channel [V]. no one knows if it will work or not but at least they’re innovating and challenging the status quo. that’s what good managers do. then deal with the consequences later.

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