Cutting down on its music content further, MTV is changing track for its India strategy as the channel has set its eyes to be the leader in the unscripted content category.
To strengthen its position, the youth channel is launching three new shows in the unscripted category.
“We started reducing music content for fiction and non-fiction content for youth audiences with the launch of MTV Beats in 2016. The strategy has worked well for the channel,” said Ferzad Palia, Head, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18.
Palia said that the channel was ramping up its content offering. “In the near future, we see ourselves dialling up our content to the next level and our first salvo is the upcoming three shows. As we go along, our very clear intent is to ramp up our content offering in unscripted zone,” said Palia.
The youth channel has done a lot of experiments and put out a lot of new content in last 12-18 months. The channel claims it has led to its viewership being doubled.
“With MTV Beats as a music-facing brand launched in 2016, MTV plays almost no music during the hours except just two hours in the morning. For that, we needed to introduce a lot more long-form content, including Love School, Troll Police, Dating in the dark, Dropout. All of these have achieved big success,” said Palia.
“The experiment that paid off the dividend well gave us confidence to go full throttle and we are coming up with more content and launching three new shows,” he added.
The new line-up will open with the fourth season of India’s Next Top Model (every Saturday at 7pm), followed by Elovator Pitch (every Friday 7 pm from October 12) and Ace of Space (every day at 6 pm starting October 20).
It may be recalled that Star India’s youth channel Channel V could not survive despite several attempts to change the format and programming. “May be there was change in strategy and format too rapidly or they did not get it right. It is not an easy genre to crack as you are dealing with a very difficult audience who can drop you very quickly. What we have managed to do is to hold on to our existing audience and significantly add new audience,” commented Palia.
In less than two years, MTV Beats has proved its mettle as the channel is fighting for the top-3 places in its genre and is among top-2 contemporary music channels.
Palia said, “We have seen great influx of new advertisers on the channel. Both the brands have grown ahead of the market and our branded content business is contributing in a big way. The branded content division MTV Brand Studio executes a lot of turnkey projects for top brands in the country which is platform agnostic.”
Palia claimed that branded content could contribute about 20-25% of their total revenue in the next 24-36 months.
“Branded content division is showing us very good growth. There is a big demand and since we have the expertise in the language of the youth, it holds us in very good position. The response from brands is encouraging. We did something interesting recently with Airbnb involving Saif and Kareena. We do see it to be fairly large revenue stream for us in the foreseeable future,” he said.
While the music genre always claims to be under-indexed when it comes to advertising rates for the audience it delivers, this is not the case with the youth genre. “The youth genre is pretty much only MTV and thankfully advertisers are seeing merit in all that we are doing and how the content is being consumed across multiple platforms. At the same time, music has always been an under-indexed genre for what it delivers. When the entire genre is being offered as commodity, even an advertiser fails to decide on A vs B. But if you could make a clear differentiation like we have done with MTV Beats then only it augurs well,” said Palia.
With sponsorships, branded content and integration opportunities, the channel claims to sell in a very different way compared to any other broadcaster.
Setting its vision right, Palia said that dominating eyeballs across television and digital was the main focus area for MTV. “The kind of monies we are investing, the plan is to significantly grow our topline over the next year or two,” he concluded.