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Youth GE Channel V gears for its next big challenge

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Youth GE Channel V gears for its next big challenge

When Channel V revamped its tagline to ‘Bloody cool’ in 2009, it took its first step towards becoming a serious player in the youth GE (general entertainment) domain. The channel’s constant attempts since – the first edition of Indiafest, launch of two daily fiction shows and setting up V Spot café in 2011 – were in line with its objective to expand this proposition in the Hindi speaking markets. Today with a primetime line up of its own allowing it weekly GRPs averaging at 50 plus (C&S ABC 15-24), Channel V has created a benchmark for youth GE channels.

The year 2012 has marked the completion of Channel V’s transition from a music channel to a youth general entertainment channel. But this achievement has come on the back of a significant investment, and the challenge ahead for the channel is growing its reach from this current base.

According to Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Channel V, the channel’s first achievement comes in the fact that from being a 10 GRP channel, it has now increased five-fold in terms of viewership. Channel V does enjoy higher ratings than any of its competitors at present but its investment towards creating original programming should also be factored in.

Creating the much needed appointment viewing
For most youth and music channels, the biggest challenge is to create daily appointment viewing and not just on the back of reality and format shows that had a finite lifeline. Channel V addressed this challenge successfully by creating a slew of daily shows. At present, it has five dailies including ‘Gumrah’, ‘D3 Dil Dostii Dance’, ‘Humse Hai Life’, ‘Suvreen Guggal’ and ‘The Buddy Project’. The channel looks to further extend its prime time in early 2013. Later this year, Channel V would be launching two weekday shows ‘The Serial’ and ‘Best Friends Forever’ that would replace ‘Gumrah’ and ‘Humse Hai life’ respectively.

But it is expensive to create shows than to play music. Per half hour (average duration of a single episode) costs 10-20 times more than similar duration of music. “Revenue too has increased for us due to the shift we saw in market share. Appointment viewing ascertains a certain viewership, which matters to advertisers. For us, it means a dramatic difference in monetisation,” said Kamath.

Industry sources indicate that Channel V’s programming investment runs up to Rs 100 crore – the question is whether 50 GRPs is enough given this kind of an outlay?

Is 50-GRP enough for a youth GE?
One of the biggest conversations of India is the large youth audience base in the market. If a mass general entertainment channel sees over 250 GRPs, for a country that enjoys a large youth database, what should be an optimum expectation for a youth GE?

“At present, we do not have the kind of reach and distribution that larger GECs have but what we do have that in our original programming slots. When we look at the time spent, we have the highest time spent among youth, which shows the kind of traction this content has. We are trying to create a channel that has as much entertainment or a high volume of entertainment as any of the other GE channel,” replied Kamath.

He pointed out that a mass GEC would have around four times the original content that Channel V has at the moment. He said, “Currently we are 55 GRPS, and Star Plus delivers 255 GRPs which is almost five times as big as Channel V, but Star Plus also has five times the programming content as well as double the amount of reach. It’s a process and a journey that we need to build towards. We have moved from being number 33 in the overall channel ranking to number 10 in the last 12 months and we would continue to move forward in this direction.”

Challenges that lie ahead
There is no denying that Channel V has been successful in establishing itself as a youth GE but there are challenges ahead. First, is to ensure audience retention followed by specific steps to attract more eyeballs in order to increase its GRPs.  

Another challenge for the channel is to monetise this through brand associations and create advertising opportunities which Channel V has done through in-serial product placements. Protagonists and support cast of Channel V shows have been seen associating with Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Clean and Clear, Classmate, ITC Sunfeast Reliance to name a few which Kamath believes work best when woven into the storyline.

Bottom line is that, Channel V has crossed a big milestone in giving Indian audience a first true sense of a youth GE channel. But the vindication of its proposition will only come once it has to right ratings and revenues to show in lieu of its investment.

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