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Music channels look beyond songs

In August, when Star Network-owned Channel [V] went in for a makeover, critics said that it essentially followed in MTV’s footsteps, reports Rachit Vats.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2009 21:09 IST
Rachit Vats

In August, when Star Network-owned Channel [V] went in for a makeover, critics said that it essentially followed in MTV’s footsteps. The music channel announced six new reality-based shows, and said it would play lesser music henceforth. From a 90:10 of music:other shows ratio, Channel [V]’s new programming strategy has a 60:40 of music:other shows mix.

MTV recently dropped the ‘Music Television’ tag from its logo. It now calls itself a youth entertainment channel, available on television, mobile and online. Beyond music, in the mix of music and non-music based reality shows, MTV Roadies that has seen seven seasons. Other shows such as MTV Splitsvilla, MTV Fast & Gorgeous, MTV Stunt Mania has caught the young viewers’ fancy. MTV Roadies, especially, has managed to create significant traction with the target audience — youth in the 15-to-24-years age.

Non-music content has always been present on music channels, though in small proportions. In the last decade, music channels have been launched and then re-launched. Channel [V] has been re-launched at least five times. The prime focus has always been on music, though. MTV too, since 1994, has constantly been re-working its programming. In 1996, it moved towards playing a Hindi-English music mix in an 80:20 ratio. Since then, it has innovated its non-music led programming.

According to Prem Kamath, general manager, Channel [V], “This is not radically new. Just that at [V] we are doing more shows now compared to earlier. Music is getting commoditised. Forty per cent of channel GRPs come from shows. We realised that in a market like this, it pays to be faithful to an audience rather than a genre.” GRPs or Gross Rating Points express a channel’s viewership in a time frame such as a day or week.

According to Ashish Patil, general manager & senior VP, creative & content, MTV India, “We have always been known for more than just music. We were known for stuff like Bakra and Filmi Funda. Though now, the target group wants more style, cricket, fashion, stunts, F1, club, disco and dance. Naturally, we had to ramp up the scale. The dependence on music is certainly less but it will always be the mainstay.”

Experts say that compared to a decade ago, general entertainment channels (GECs) have broken into the music space, and music too is now freely available everywhere — mobile phone, car radio, online or the iPod.

Says Meenakshi Madhvani, founder, Spatial Access, “A decade back, the objective of the music channels was to engage the youth by playing music. Now, every channel plays music. By including non-music or music-led content, music channels are again talking to the youth, engaging them in a new way.”

Adds Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia and emerging markets — specialist solutions — Starcom MediaVest Group, a media agency, “This is not an India-only trend. It is happening all over the world. MTV USA started airing its first non-music shows such as dating and chat shows in the mid-90s. Over the last nine years in the US, MTV's music programming has dropped from nearly eight hours a day to three hours or less. Young people, the core targets for these channels, get bored quickly and respond well to innovations.”

Do more music-led reality-based shows attract advertisers attention too? Kiran believes there is no direct correlation between the kind of programming these channels run and the price clients and planners are willing to pay. He says, “Clients look at viewership potential, differentiation of content, potential to activate their customers using the interactivity of the shows, and relevance to the brand needs.”

Advertising in the music genre of programmes has increased every year since 2005, according to TAM Media Research. While 2005 saw a 48 per cent jump over 2004, 2006 grew by 24 per cent over 2005, 2007 by 34 per cent over 2006 and 2008 by 27 per cent over 2007. And 2009 January to September has already seen a 12 per cent jump over the corresponding 2008 months.

Top advertisers have mostly been from the aerated and non-aerated drinks, cellular phone services, fast moving consumer goods, two-wheelers and packaged foods categories.