Press Release

Twists and turns of youth channels

3 July 2012

After tweaking their programming lineups umpteenth number of times, the channels in the youth and music genre are settling down with their business models. The latest to make the radical shift is Channel [V] as it has announced it would be ceasing to air Bollywood music from 1 July.

How it will impact other channels in the youth genre is not clear yet but industry experts say that Channel [V]’s move will be nothing less than a coup d'état if it manages to create a success of its youth-based shows.

The reason is obvious: pure play music channels earn just Rs 1-1.2 billion and growth is subdued. However, add to it the youth-based shows and the market is over Rs 4 billion.

The move towards youth channels started way back in 2007 when both MTV and Channel [V] started shifting gears from music to adding more of non-music content. Still the youth genre was in its infancy in India till UTV launched Bindass as the first youth entertainment channel.

However, the road is not easy as Bindass and MTV will give tough fight. Says UTV Media Networks executive director Youth Channels Nikhil Gandhi, "Bindass has been the pioneer to launch as a youth entertainment channel back in 2007. We understand the needs of the ever evolving preferences of the youth and have always offered differentiated and relevant content."

Youth channels need to be present across all platforms - TV, mobile, web, ground events, retail. "Bindass is present on all these platforms. We have a good mix of music and reality shows plus short formats which connect extremely well with the audiences. In fact, most of franchises are in their third or fourth seasons, be it Big Switch or Super Stud," Gandhi adds.

Bindass is not ruling out the possibility of adding fiction shows to the programming lineup. “Fiction is something we did successfully four years ago. We’ve changed our strategy to reality shows since these are formats which connect well with the TG. However, I don’t rule out the possibility of a fiction show with a twist,” Gandhi avers.

But will shows drive the youth entertainment genre and is it sustainable, given the high cost of programming?

Answers Aegis Group chairman India and CEO South East Asia Ashish Bhasin: “Channel [V] will have a much bigger space to play with. Whether the channel will work or not depends on the content. Usually when a channel comes with a new proposition, the first few weeks and months are well planned. But time will tell if the channel is able to sustain beyond a year. They not only have to generate eyeballs but have to get sticky eyeballs. People who come to the channel should stay and come back later too. If that happens, advertisers will surely invest.”

Channel [V] believes that Bollywood music is not monetisable as it is available on all the platforms. But the top executives of pure play music channels feel that they could gain from Channel [V] vacating the music space.

“Certainly the audience which is looking for music will shift to pure play music channels like 9XM, Mix and Mastiii. And these channels will have a benefit as well,” a senior executive of a pure play music channel says.

But from the cost and revenue perspective what is the upside a channel can expect with youth focussed content?

“The cost of the content might be anywhere between Rs 500-600 million. But if it works, the revenue will be almost double the cost. In a way, it is a good proposition and with digitisation, there will be an added advantage of subscription revenues as well,” another senior executive from a rival network says.

The time has truly come for the youth channels to buckle up and look for formats that will attract the youth.

Source: Indian Television?

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