Prem Kamath was appointed as GM of Channel [v] in February 2009 and has successfully managed the brand ever since. The channel has grown by leaps and bounds with innovative properties such as [v] Spot Café & Bar, Indiafest 2011, touted as the largest college festival of the nation. Meanwhile, the channel for the first time introduced a fiction show called ‘Dil Dostii Dance’.
In conversation with e4m, Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President and GM, Channel [v], speaks at length about the channel’s growth over the years, the content strategy, catering to the youth segment, and more…
What has been the annual growth rate for Channel [v] in the last 2-3 years?
We’ve grown approximately 120 per cent since relaunch in August 2009.
What have been the key drivers of this growth?
An indepth understanding of the youth and their touchpoints has influenced our programming and content strategy besides ensuring that we do something innovative in every new show, whether it’s in the format or the way it’s being communicated.
How has Channel [v]’s programming strategy evolved over the years?
Keeping in mind the ever-increasing interests and passions of our audience, we have consistently added to our programming portfolio with content that reflects these tastes in the edgiest and most entertaining manner possible. From being a music only channel to having a balanced mix of music, reality shows and fiction, we are catering to every different mood of our audience.
In today’s highly fragmented media environment, how does a channel like Channel [v] grab eyeballs and retain them as well?
We realise that no two youth are the same, instead they have several avatars. To understand this diversity better, we commissioned a pan Indian research for a thorough understanding of the youth and their passions. At the beginning of this year, we released FYI Youth Report, the most comprehensive youth study undertaken in India across 20 cities and over 5000 respondents. All ideas are tested against this filter to ensure we consistently create content that relates to the youth and one that they can identify with. As a result we have gone beyond simply being a television channel and create and on-ground brand experience through initiatives such as IndiaFest and The [v] Spot Café+Bar.
Please tell us more on the move to the fiction show category. What prompted this move? How has ‘Dil Dostii Dance’ been performing? Could you please share the latest TAM figures for it?
As a youth brand, we have always been pushing ourselves to offer innovative content to our viewers. ‘Dil Dostii Dance’ was conceptualised keeping in mind the significance of dance as a passion for the youth. There are scores of youngsters out there who dream of making a name in the dance world but struggle with everyday challenges. Hence a story that reflects such circumstances has resonated well with the viewers. The initial response has been extremely encouraging, as it remains the highest rated show on the 7 pm slot for three months now.
Youth has a very short attention span. What kind of programming works best for them? How do you hold on to their attention?
The fact is there is no one programming that will keep working with them as they are extremely initiated and have tremendous media exposure compared to other audiences. The challenge is to constantly innovate and reinvent the content that is being created to keep them entertained in the edgiest manner possible.
Since when has Channel [v] been basing its shows on Forum for Youth Insights? Could you please tell us more on this study – is it done in-house or carried out by some agency, the TG involved, the key findings of this study…
We have continuously used research to validate content and eventually we realised the need for an organised body of information on the youth. The FYI Youth Report was done in conjunction with three agencies – Quantum to get a qualitative understanding, TNS for the quantitative validation of the same, and Sphinx to detail over 8 lakh Internet ethnographies.
What are the key points that Channel [v] focuses on while marketing its programmes?
Our marketing is always aimed at making the content reflect as a mirror to our audience and make them relate to it. Ultimately, our objective is to draw awareness and intrigue about the property and the best way to achieve that is through bringing out the insight that is true to the audience’s life.
How has the [v] Spot Café venture been shaping up? Has the growth been as per expectations? What further plans do you have for this venture?
Our first outlet was launched in May at Saket, New Delhi, and the response has been tremendous. Its success has surpassed expectations and we are looking to open at a couple of more locations by the end of the year.
How bullish are you on the reality genre?
As a content engine, we are simply indifferent to formats and instead focus on customising our offering to current youth hot buttons. Reality has resonated reasonably well with the audiences but its long term future will depend upon next shift in youth interests.
What new shows have been lined up for release in the coming days?
On the back of the resounding success of ‘D3’, a new fiction show in the name of ‘Humse Hai Life’ will go on-air in the beginning of September. There are a few big ticket reality shows in the pipeline, but I’d like to confirm them only once we lock some details.
How does Channel [v] differentiate its content from other channels such as MTV, UTV Bindass, et al…
In our endeavour to reflect youth passions in our content, we ensure that it brings about a positive disruption it their lives, whether it is through edgy reality shows such as ‘Love Kiya Toh Darna Kya’ and ‘Axe UR Ex’ or through our fiction shows that gives them the belief to follow their dreams.