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Music channels veering more towards non-music, reality-based shows

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Music channels veering more towards non-music, reality-based shows

Music channels have been facing increasing challenges to retain and attract eyeballs, what with the target audience’s preferences changing frequently and stiffer competition from GECs and other genres. Experimenting with non-music content has become the key to attracting eyeballs.

2009 has been a year of reinvention for the music genre. While MTV dropped ‘Music Television’ from its name, Channel [v] got ‘Bloody Cool’ as its new tagline. Vh1 also underwent rebranding in May 2009. This trend will continue in 2010 as well.

Vh1 recently announced that it would air movies on Sundays, with ample repeats over the weekdays. Ferzad Palia, Associate General Manager, Vh1 India said that when the channel was launched in India in January 2005, it was clearly indicted that it would air music and shows related to entertainment, fashion and lifestyle.

He further explained, “That time, 90 per cent content was music, while the remaining 10 per cent was non-music content. Over the years, music content has decreased to approximately 50 per cent, while the non-music content consists of the remaining 50 per cent.” This division of content will be maintained in 2010 as well.

The most popular show on MTV is ‘Roadies’, which is a reality-based show. Anuj Poddar, Senior VP - Strategy and Business Development, Viacom18 Media, commented that MTV was becoming a youth GEC and did not limit itself by just being a music channel. “MTV is an icon of youth culture and not music, and today what you are seeing is that the brand is just living up to its promise,” he maintained. Today, only about 30 per cent of MTV’s content is music, while the rest comprises non-music content.

Prem Kamath, General Manager - Marketing, Channel [v], said, “We are faithful to the audience and not the genre, so when we sense that things are moving in a certain way, we move to reflect that change.” Channel [v] currently has 65 per cent music content, while 45 per cent is non-music content.

Kamath further said that there were some music channels that still aired pure music content, so it was not a trend that was being adopted by all the channels. While the programming shift allows the channel to reach out to a larger set of audiences, it also helps them attract more advertisers and hence, increase their ad revenues.

Vh1 India’s Palia added that non-music content let them do a number of things for different categories and different advertisers could be brought on board.

Poddar claimed that in the last two years, MTV had doubled its ad revenues and the same was the case with Channel [v], wherein its channel share had increased four-fold following the revamp.

“We have moved from being a snacking channel to an appointment viewing channel, as people now tune in to our channel at specific time bands. For example, Saturday, 7 pm,” said Poddar, adding that this had happened because of the introduction of non-music content.

The decision to move to non-music content seems to be working for these channels. Whether this trend will be adopted by other music channels remains to be seen. Also, would that dilute the ‘music genre’ altogether is also a wait and watch.

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