MTV and PepsiCo have come together to co-create and co-curate a platform to broadcast independent music along with trendsetting sub-cultures in India. The formal launch of the channel, christened Pepsi MTV Indies, was announced on February 5, 2014.
The channel claims that it will be the world’s largest platform for independent sub-cultures and has been built in collaboration with a collective of artists and supporters of the independent scene.
In conversation with exchange4media, Aditya Swamy, EVP and Business Head, MTV talks about the way forward for the channel, monetisation and marketing plans and the strategy behind launching the channel.
What should the audience expect from the new channel?
Apart from music, viewers watch art, not just traditional painting but street art, graphic art, graffiti, fashion, etc. which would largely include offbeat designers, motorcycle rides, motorcycle pimping, etc. The channel becomes a collective platform that showcases the underground scene prevailing in the country. From the perspective of business, this would be the first time two large brands coming together to create a broadcast offering such as this, to co- curate and co-create a 24x7 channel. I think this would be a case study to understand what broadcasters and brands could do.
What was the rationale behind launching such a channel and at this particular juncture?
Across the world, MTV has been at the forefront in identifying trends and successfully making them mainstream. MTV launched shows on international music and made it a trend in India. When we started our independent music journey on MTV three to four years ago, we were only scratching the surface. We feel now that surface is becoming bigger and bigger. There is enough of content, following and advertising interest to create an exclusive destination for the genre. While we had to house it under MTV earlier, I think the time and space is right to give it its own house. Today you have differentiated offerings in the music genre. We are launching a channel which raises interest and awareness on what is happening in the Indian independent scene. From content point of view, this would be a specialized offering.
The timing is perfect. We did a show called Roots three years ago. An average video would get a hundred thousand views. But today video like that will get a million views. Lot of the content was primarily low quality content made purely for digital and social media. But I think a lot of young people are figuring out how to use devices. They are all becoming savvy with editing. They are all using their phones and high definition cameras, and I think all that is making content more accessible. There are more people who want to consume more content like that and there are more people who want to make music like that. So the overall trending looks positive and I think it is good for us to be in the middle of it. I think as network we have a strong broadcast and digital capability and we should capitalise on the opportunity.
How do you plan to gain a stronghold in the market?
We do not expect to have 10 million viewers in the first week. The idea is to keep it exclusive with word of mouth publicity and more of direct marketing. We would focus on aggressive college activations and be a part of all the festivals. To be active on the right kind of platform, we have launched it in high definition and Dolby. So this is largely a format that will go on digital platform and more affluent homes. The language is neutral. So usually while MTV has a sort of HSM restriction, this would go anywhere. We have music in Bangla rock and we also have Mallu rock. We have a larger feed to go with this. Radio and digital partnerships also become a big part of it. There is no market share. We are the only player in this genre. We own 100 per cent of the market as of now..
How will this be different from artist aloud.com which was launched by Hungama?
They have promoted different kind of artists, but a lot of people promote and listen to non-filmy music today. There is NH-7, artist aloud, Blue Frog, etc. All of them promote music differently. NH-7 is a festival, Blue frog is a bar, and artist aloud is an online destination. The idea is not to come and compete with somebody and takeover the space. Everybody has been doing it. Launching a TV channel would be a game changer for the scene. TV still has the highest reach. A channel like MTV would go to 20 million homes with our distribution capability and if Pepsi puts us on 100 million bottles and taps into their many thousand retail points that would give us tremendous reach. There is incredible potential to take the independent music genre to a wider audience.
How are you planning to monetise the channel?
I think there are several ways to monetise it. We are a pay service and not free to air. We believewe have premium content which people will pay for. Secondly, there is a fair amount of advertiser interest. A big brand like Pepsi entering into a broadcast partnership is a big step. We also have four anchor advertisers we have tied up with, which we are disclosing right now, but they will be showcased on the channel. There is also revenue to be made from our live gigs and content. We are working with the most independent content creators to the biggest music labels. There is a huge ecosystem which can be created by monetising content, distributing content, including music sharing sites. Therefore, I think there will be multiple revenue streams.