RadioandMusic
| 12 Aug 2020
9XM programming head Amar Tidke - Channels with appointment viewing will face a problem in the longer run

He has dabbled in radio and in the online space, managing the creative departments at Mobile2win, Radio City as well as Fever FM.

He was recently appointed as the head of programming for INX Media's 9XM. Amar Tidke, who has settled in comfortably in his new role in the music channel,  talks about his new stint in the television space, in conversation with Radioandmusic.com's Harpreet Khokhar 

Excerpts-

Your last stint was with radio and now the shift to television. How has the journey been so far?

Prior to my current appointment with 9XM, I was with the radio industry, both of which primarily deal with music. So in that
context, there has not been much shift. I was and still am in the music sphere. The gamut of music is pretty much what everyone listens to and likes, which comprises 80 per cent of latest Bollywood music. But it's great to be in a visual medium. In 9XM, there are some fascinating visuals that we create using animation. Animated presenters and visuals is an interesting and exiting new ball game.

While your competitors have shifted to shows format and shrunk the music percentage, you have stuck to music. Is it easier to be one of the only music channels or does it makes the journey difficult?

It's neither easy nor difficult, it's just a very different space altogether. The entire channel is about feeling good, bringing happiness to the viewers with the music, video content as well as with the animated characters. Our core proposition remains  music, along with which we are delivering seamless content appealing to the youth. And of course, we are also backed by numbers to prove it.

We are in a different space from most of the channels, who can't really be labeled as music channels. They have diluted the music proposition. For them, there are multiple competitors, including everyone who is airing reality shows and such formats.

Music channels are shrinking their music content while upping their format shows. Is this the inevitable model?

Honestly, I don't hold a crystal ball to predict the future of the industry, but what from what I presume, there will be a digression towards other formats and then there will be a eureka moment when the industry would wake up to music and prefer to stick to it. And it's not just music, one has to intersperse it with interesting shows as well, where you are not taking viewers too far from music. At 9XM, we present shows that are quick, fun and snappy at the same time, revolving around music. For a successful format, you have to stick to your core proposition. 9xm is successful mainly because we stuck to our main proposition, which is delivering maximum music for viewers, along with such shows which maintain stickiness and constant eyeballs.

Do you see the no-appointment viewing pattern as a problem for youth channels like yours?

If you look at the psyche of today's youth, they are not hung up about time and they don't like to be dictated to. Time bound
things don't work for them. Viewers are smart enough to opt for their preference and cannot be forced. So looking at this pattern, I think channels with appointment viewing will face a problem in the longer run  

Who is your target audience? Has your target audience changed over the years?

Our primary target audience is the youth which hasn't changed for us over the years. In fact, even the whole imaging of the
channel revolves around them. The animated characters are a big draw for kids who are tuned in the channel 


Out of home viewing for your channel appears to be more than in-home viewing. A lot of pubs, restaurants etc are switched to 9xm. Is it a conscious distribution strategy?

People at home are also watching 9XM, but because of its seamless programming, it is also working in the out of home sphere. A good product will be consumed anywhere at home and even outside.

What percentage of non-film music do you play? Are you planning to increase it?

As of now, we are not playing any non-film music. Even though a lot of different kind of music being produced, it only gets leverage and publicity the moment it hits the silver screen. It's a trite statement to make but movies do play an integral part of evolution of our society. Films become a communication channel for the entire public and present a bigger platform. Genres like rock picked up after the movie Rock On. Kylie Minogue would have been unknown in the country had it not been for the track 'Chiggy Wiggy'. They present a larger than life picture, influencing a large number of people. So whether one likes it or not, films dominate our everyday lives. Even for social message advertisements, till a star is not a part of it, it refuses to gain mileage. And I think, we should use it as a platform to further music.

At 9XM, we are all about latest Bollywood hit music which has worked as the numbers have shown and we plan to stick to it as of now.

The channel is undergoing a lot of changes. Tell us more about it.

9XM has several changes lined up in the coming months. The channel carries a new look that was introduced two weeks back. We call it Gen 2, giving it a glossy look, keeping in mind the iPhone generation, but not going too far from the original look.

Our music catalog has also grown multifold. We have added lots of new and diverse songs from several movies to our music library. Where other channels repeat the same handful of songs the entire day, we air those songs and several others as well which are already popular but not played often. One of the essential changes made is increment in the depth of our catalogue.

We would also be rolling out two new animated characters soon. Apart from that, the existing characters are taking a trip overseas starting their journey with China. New visuals stating their journey will roll out soon     

What was the need for a new look?

It is always good to keep reinventing yourself to break from monotony. Today's audience wants a little element of surprise which a new fresh look provides them. It helps the audience intact.

Do these animated characters work better than VJs?

The characters are doing a fantastic job, which shows in the ratings. From movies to advertisments, animation is widespread. We love the surreal space. There is so much reality happening every day, we want to get away from it whenever we can. At 9XM, we plan to take our viewers into this world even for a short time.

You had started new initiatives on the mobile platform. How is working for you?

We had launched new initiatives across the board, including the internet and mobile platforms as well. But all these endeavors are in their initial stages, hence it's too early to comment, though things are moving in a positive direction. We have a set product which is already liked by the masses and we are expecting the consumption to increase.

Also, a lot more is coming up on the website. People will get a chance to interact with the characters, there would be games revolving around them. This and more will happen over the next few months.

We are planning on-ground initiatives and road shows as well. We would be taking the channel on-ground including characters. Also word of mouth has always worked for us, people come in and stick because of the content we provide 

Are revenues in terms of these platforms good enough?

Every medium is not revenue driven. Few initiatives are undertaken to interact with the viewers and some for brand awareness. Mobile helps us to generate revenue and internet is more for interaction. Each medium will be tackled with the requirement needed for that medium.

What kind of a revenue jump, percentage wise, do you look at in the year?

In the music channel space there is possibility of 30-40 per cent growth and at 9XM we are planning to capitalise on it being the market leader.

Send in your comments to: harpreet.khokhar@indiantelevision.co.in