Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has set its eyes on achieving leadership in the Hindi music space and grabbing a large market share with the launch of it second music channel, Sony ROX HD. Targeted at the youth, the channel with the tagline ‘Music Melody Madhoshi,’ showcases the latest Hindi film music in high definition visual format of 1080i resolution that is enhanced by Dolby Audio. It is served through a day-parted playout with unique programming initiatives.
When asked what made the network stick to HD, Singh, who is positive about the growth of HD penetration in India, says there was a need for a true blue premium HD channel with true quality audio. He reasons, “This is why we came up with a premium HD channel focussed on the youth, will play contemporary music and encourage independent talent. Also most of the new TV sets sold in the market are now HD, ultra HD or 4K, which will (be able to) show this channel. Also HD reach will continue to grow with the penetration of high definition growing in the market. ”
Sony ROX HD is launched across key direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable platforms such as TATA Sky, Fastway, In Cable and UCN among others.
Lately the Hindi music genre has been witnessing activities from major networks including Viacom18’s launch of MTV Beats and Star India’s conversion of its youth GEC Channel V into a hybrid music channel. But Singh is confident that Sony ROX HD will stand out. “What we are trying to do and have done successfully with all our channel offerings in the last few years is differentiation within the same genre. We did it with MIX in music, Le Plex HD in English movies and MAX HD in Hindi movies. In fact, we were the first ones to create differentiation in GEC with SAB. That’s the kind of differentiation we are creating with ROX HD as well and it will stand its own ground and become successful.”
The channel has got its music content acquisition strategy in place with tie-ups with all the leading labels including T-series, ZEE music, Sony Music, YRF, Eros Music, UTV-Disney and Tips. It has inked a long term partnership with Dolby. Apart from that it has special properties like ROX School of Music, which educates about music, ROX Original artiste of the Month, an ongoing platform, which promotes upcoming independent artists every month and Gigs in your Town, which informs about the concerts happening in cities.
Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP & Business Head - Sony ROX HD, SPN, says, “A youth focused contemporary Hindi music channel, Sony ROX HD’s music content and programming initiatives will make it the leading hangout destination on TV for 15-21-year olds. Apart from the specials we will have music reviews, interviews with musicians and showcase their lives. Nobody is putting in the kind of quality that we are putting in.”
Vyas shares the growth of the SPN’s music cluster, adding, “We will grow by 10 per cent by the end of this year.”
Singh isn’t discounting the fact that some of the specials have scope for on ground activity as well. He shares, “We will take the channel on ground as well in due course of time. We will also be creating original IPs as part of the ROX brand. That will become another source of revenue for the channel.”
He adds his views on music being an under-indexed category, “In some time there will be some consolidation happening as the distribution landscape changes. At that time there will be correction in the market.”
Regarding Sony ROX HD’s business model Singh is sticking to the traditional model. “There will be advertisers and subscription on this channel. Given our experience on the other HD channels on the network and Sony ROX HD’s distinction and differentiation from others we will see very strong traction from advertisers on this channel. Monetisation will be strong both from advertisement and subscription perspective.”
The channel hasn’t got any advertisers on board yet but it has been sampled and the reaction has been positive, according to Singh.
Considering it’s a premium HD channel will they be commanding premium ad rate? Singh says, “We have just launched the channel and need to see the viewership growth on it before we go into demanding ad rate. We certainly want to set a high threshold because this is a premium channel appealing to premium audience. Therefore we can and should command a strong ad rate.”
Despite being an HD channel Singh emphasises that it’s mass. “Sony ROX HD currently targets the Hindi speaking market. It spreads beyond six metros. HD will eventually become mass.”
The channel is promoted extensively across all Sony Pictures Networks’ HD channels, carrier platforms, coupled with print, a robust digital and social media presence to engage with audience at different touch points. He adds, “There is a lot of marketing on digital platform since the channel is focused on youth who consume digital content, which is an important vehicle of communication with them.”
Vyas adds, “We will be live on our digital platform Sony Liv.”
The network is expected to roll out Sony BBC Earth SD and HD in multiple languages in April with licenses expected anytime this month. Singh shares the future plans, adding, “We are also working on launching our kid’s channel. It will all happen in next four to six months time. Then, there will be integration of Tens Sports into our network.”