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The first five years were very tough for Vh1: Ferzad Palia

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The first five years were very tough for Vh1: Ferzad Palia

Vh1, that began its journey on January 1, 2005 in India, completed 10 years in the country. The channel started off with 40 music videos and ten years later, has become a leader in its category in India.

From the launch days when the consumers misread Vh1 as Vhr or VHI and clients misheard Vh1 sales guys, rather embarrassingly as “Which one?” 3650 days later, the channel has become a super-power brand which attracts the best talent from across the world. Playing home to every big awards ceremony from the Grammy’s to the Golden Globes to the Billboard Awards, getting the biggest and the best names from international music to India for live performances, to two successful houseful years of the dance music extravaganza Vh1 Supersonic, the channel has come a long way from its early days.

Speaking further about the ten-year run that Vh1 has had, Ferzad Palia, EVP & Business Head, English Entertainment, Viacom18 said, “It has not been an easy ride and really humble beginnings with people dispersed in different parts of the office and one fine day we get a call saying we need to launch the channel in 15 days. The first five years of the channel were very tough. Revenues were hard to come in and it was hard to explain to people that international music and lifestyle is a genre and we needed to build the genre by ourselves. There were a handful of radio stations that were playing English content and even they decided to shut down and go for a mass approach. So there was no real help to build the category. It was really tough task, at least for the first five-six years. Post that, we started to see a lot of traction coming in and that is when the seeds of the investment started bearing fruit. Today Vh1 is one of the most profitable businesses in the network growing at very healthy rates.”

The ad revenue size of the category is expected to be Rs 175 crore. The channel has a major share of this as the channel commands a 20-22% viewership share in the category.

When asked about how long it took for the channel to break even and become profitable he said, “It took about eight years to breakeven but keep in mind that we weren’t losing money hand over first, so we were still maintainable by the network. Vh1 is now a strong and profitable channel.”

“From just a 40 music video channel in three cities to being the #1 English entertainment channel across India, we’ve come to be a household name. From doing indoor gigs to now having 15,000 fans sing ‘Happy Birthday Vh1’ on the sands of Goa during Vh1 Supersonic 2014, it’s been an exciting and fulfilling journey. I genuinely want to thank each and every one who has participated in this fantastic journey, directly or just as a well-wisher. It is indeed, a very proud moment for team Vh1,” said Palia.

For the 10 year celebrations the channel showcased the ‘Top 10 videos of all time’ and the ‘Most played videos on Vh1 ever’ on January 7. The channel will also start its first local show called Vh1 Diaries which will showcase the journey of the channel since its inception.

Vh1’s 10th anniversary celebrations commenced at the latest edition of Vh1 Supersonic on Goan sands where over 15,000 fans sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to their favorite channel. This was followed by six mega-anniversary parties hosted on New Year’s Eve by Vh1 across six cities in India; namely Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad. To mark the 10th anniversary of Vh1, the channel will be hosting a month long celebration on air for its viewers in January 2015 including special programming – a throwback packed anniversary special month with the best of Vh1’s songs and shows.

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