The 9X M beginner’s luck seems to be working fine ever since its launch, and there has been no looking back for the channel in terms of ratings. TAM Media Research shows that for the C&S 15-24 TG, the channel is the 14th most watched channel on television in the Hindi speaking markets.
Media watchers have many observations for the channel already. Some believe that 9X M is more of an ambient viewing channel, and the danger in that is that it is not enjoying active viewership. Vikas Varma, Head - Music and Entertainment Channels, INX Media disagreed with this and said, “We get between 7,000 and 10,000 SMSes a day for the contests that we run on the channel, and these are not even for expensive gifts but just 9X M goody bags and merchandising. I don’t believe that would happen if people were not watching the channel.”
Another view was that since the channel was virtually bereft of advertising, the eyeballs stayed on. Varma said, “It is true that we had very little advertising on the channel, but even MTV is ad free from 7 am to noon. Nonetheless, as of three weeks back, we’ve had 10 minutes of commercial time in every hour of programming. Right now, there are more promos than ads in these 10 minutes, but even in the last two weeks’ TAM data that has come so far, we are growing week-on-week.”
He further said, “We began with a clear focus on the 16-19 year old and that has led 9X M to be a positive channel, that doesn’t threaten anyone, and that is what is working for the channel. Our focus is on Bollywood songs and showing the complete song, and that is not going to change.”
INX Media has decided to embark on a different approach to 9X M sales. Probal Gaanguly, Group Director – Revenue Management, Ad Sales and New Media, INX Media, said that the channel was looking at getting advertising partners rather than advertisers for the channel. He explained, “We are taking a cricket tournament approach to the channel. Just as sponsors benefit the most from a tournament, we want our advertising partners to benefit the most from the channel. We are looking at six partners in all – one in the online space and one in the telecom space and four other corporates. These six would own 60-70 per cent of the channel’s inventory.”
He added, “We are offering an uncluttered platform where our partners can block competition. We have eight advertisers on the channel at present, and we are looking at adding more ads, but these are the kind of deals that we would get into.”
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that 9X M has seen no marketing around the channel. However, Anthony Pettifer, Group Director – Brands and Communication, INX Media, reiterated that the “un-marketed image” was part of the channel’s marketing strategy. “We don’t intend to change this either. We got the positioning of the channel right, and worked towards a brand that the audience could feel belonged to them. In fact, various youth hangouts like McDonald’s airing the channel is also a form of advertising for us,” he added.
Pettifer also stated that the channel was looking at merchandising closely now, including tie-ups and associations with relevant brands. He said, “There are various possibilities that we are looking at, but the broad strategy remains. For instance, even in merchandising, we don’t intend to go mass. We want the owners of 9X M goodies feel that they have something special.”
How long the ratings dream run of 9X M would go on is an interesting watch.