RadioandMusic
| 02 Dec 2021
Amar Tidke: "2012- a defining year for TV music"

9X Media Group senior VP and content head Amar Tidke

9XM and 2012:

It’s been a great year for us because we have added many more screens and also our offering has increased. We launched 9X Jalwa, which showcases timeless bollywood hits playing the best music from the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s. There is also 9X Jhakaas which is Maharashtra’s first Marathi music channel. We also launched 9XM in UK and 9XO our international English music channel also launched this year. So in that sense, Punjabi, Marathi, English completely adds to the solid media verticals which 9X offers.

On the 9XM front, we have changed our entire look. We have a fresh new logo and have also introduced some new shows like the 9XM Top 9 the bollywood countdown show  based on viewers’ choice and Khan pe Dance which showcases the hit songs of all the Khans have received fabulous response from viewers. These shows run on weekends and the response has been terrific. There was also a unique property that we launched called Buzzworthy which first saw Sonu Nigam followed by Yo Yo Honey Singh’s new track breaking exclusively on our channel. So we have also gone into more music and also varied forms of music.

We also launched a new show titled ‘Pungi’. Normally you see ‘Bade and Chhote’ always up to their antics but, this time we have made them shut up. Basically it’s a silent comedy featuring both the characters. This is the first time we are exploring silent comedy. Maybe it’s the barfi effect but we wanted to experiment. It’s more physical humour where, as usual the characters are up to their pranks but there are no words or dialogues. It will run on the channel for atleast next three months and then we will take it ahead from there depending on the response.

There has also been a lot of movement in the space out of bollywood where the YouTube phenomenon really caught on. Last year we had a Kolaveri Di and this year it was Gangnam Style. Post DAS, there has been an approximately 50 GRPs growth for music channels overall. So it’s a very positive sign for music channels.

Post Digital Addressable System (DAS) 9XM opened at 36-37 GRPs and that has been consistent for all the 10 weeks. So it’s been a great year as some great music has come out last year like Cocktail, Khiladi 786 and Jab Tak Hai Jaan amongst others.

Advertising bandwagon:

We are growing in this space too. We recently did Idea integration for their song ‘Honey Bunny’. We are bringing brands on-board in a smarter, unique ways using our characters and the shows that we have namely Top 9, Breakless, Buzzworthy and more.

So we are using the properties to integrate the brand on-board, create new avenues for bringing branding on to the channel and bringing sponsors on as well. 9XM has also added a substantial amount of new clients to its kitty in 2012 today we have about 1200 brands that advertise with 9XM.

We have penetrated deeper into tier II and III towns allowing us to further tap into categories such as retail, education and professional services.

With ad segmentation, I guess it would still be FMCG’s that are working well and have been dominant on the channel. There is a large audience between the age group of 15-25 that consumes music. So any kind of service or product that caters towards that group is advertised more. FMCG category is one of   the highest users of music channels with Food and Beverages at the top of the list followed by personal care/hygiene. F&B and personal hygiene occupy over 1/3rd (about 18 per cent each) of total commercial inventory in the music genre.

The year for music channels:

2012 has been a defining year for music television space. Entry of new players in the music space fueled growth for the genre in the early part of the year. The numbers have shown that there has been a clear growth. In terms of viability, there has been a lot of new music in 2012.

There have been a lot of films which have crossed the 100 crore mark that has been set up. So the big blockbuster films are bringing in big albums and tracks which people are talking about and want to see again. Some examples of this are Dabangg 2 track ‘Fevicol Se’ which closed the year on a really high note. Before that, it was the movie Cocktail with some phenomenal tracks, it did real wonders for people who wanted to consume music and so the same tracks were played at night clubs and more. So it has been a buzzing year and it’s musically been quite a good year.

Bollywood is just raising the bar year-on-year and now the 100 crore benchmark has become a frequent thing. In turn, the quality of music is just scaling up. As long as all remain committed to the business, it will only grow the genre further. 9X Network has launched a few new music channels keeping in mind the huge untapped potential in the regional and niche music segments.

Competition and TAM:

Essentially right now we are in clear leadership status although MTV comes a close second, but they have also been airing movies and doing shows. The other players are too new and off the block to comment.

Being a programming or content person, there has always been one philosophy which we have constantly stuck to and that is; “you should do something that you believe in”. If you do it well and the viewers like it, then automatically the numbers will come in.

With regards to TAM, our view is that it’s the only industry benchmark, so what is there for one is there for all. So there has to be some way to measure the performance of the channel and this measurement system gives us the clue as to what works well. There’s a lot of guts involved in programming so the measurement system reaffirms your belief if something is working or if it’s lacking and what audiences want.

Share of music in entertainment pie:

There are FCTs (Fixed Commercial Time) and other innovations which every channel follow. Providing constant innovations within your programming framework and the brand seeing value in that to partner has been the recipe for success and it will continue to be so. We recently did an integration of our character Bheegi Billi with Idea Funny bunny.

Music genre has grown by 50 GRPs. The number of channels has also grown we saw around four new channels coming in 2012. iIt seems like next year too there will be a few more channels coming up in the space, so the space is getting crowded but that only ensures that everyone is on their toes and providing the best kind of content to their viewers. This is a good time for viewers to be watching TV channels as there is some really good stuff happening in terms of programming.

9XM ad model:

Mornings and evenings are basically our Breakless segments and the rest of the day we have FCT’s which are pretty much constant in terms of duration hour-on-hour. Some hours do command a higher rate than others. But it’s basically on viewership or how many people are watching it at that particular time which decides the ad rates.

Target shift:

India is a very young nation today with a huge youth population. So the larger chunk of the  focus goes in addressing the youth preferences. Having said that, bollywood cuts across all age groups and soci-economic classes   and with films like Dabangg 2 which a varied audience watches our target viewers is between ……..

Essentially music channels are derivative of bollywood itself, but the packing of our channel is positioned towards the youth with the animated characters like Bade Chhote, Bheegi Billi bringing in the younger audiences. We offer Bollywood music  and humour through animation. A joke is generally enjoyed by all kinds of audiences so humour also cuts across. So we have two potent mixes in our programming which is bollywood music and humour.

We have introduced more music based properties recently, but that’s always been our proposition of offering the latest hit music. The challenge still remains to offer more music which we are trying to do through our music properties.

Milestones:

Our major milestone on the GRP front has been the consistent and robust performance of 9XM. we have continued to remain the number one channel in the Hindi music space and have overtaken other channels that have been around for a longer time than us. In terms of new shows that we launched, Top 9, Khan pe Dance did well and our animated characters continue to be loved by our viewers. It’s encouraging to see comments from users from outside of India, appreciating the look, character designs and the overall UI and experience, specially  of the apps like 9X Music & Talking Silly Chicken

9X Media is one of the top three media companies in India to have launched a series of apps for the iOS and Android technology users. We have successfully launched over 16 apps in a span of one year in 2012 which is the largest number in the broadcasting sector.

It’s still in its early days but being true to music and the leadership position that we have, we will have to keep doing such things and if the songs and artiste selection is good, there is no reason why the property will not catch on. The Sonu Nigam association was really good and the Yo Yo Honey Singh track is another track which audiences will really like.

New content:

Our basic philosophy to play hit bollywood music stays. Yes we will be innovating in content by taking baby steps with properties like Buzzworthy but the focus will always remain on bollywood.

Mobile apps:

We are the only network in the music space to provide live streaming for all our channels except 9XO which will be available shortly. So you can see the channels on an iPad and they are also now available on android devices as well. Users can download the 9X music network app and view all the channels through live streaming. Each channel also has its own facebook community which has gained a lot of traction. Even twitter is witnessing the same where each property is cross promoted with facebook. In fact our countdown show top 9 is a facebook generated voting show where every week people vote for their favourite songs on the site and SMS. The votes are then compiled and the top 9 is generated. Social media gives us response instantly on how well our properties are doing. It’s a great connect we can have with viewers.

9XM has over 18 lakh facebook fans, Tashan has two and a half lakh fans, and the viewers are constantly giving us feedback of what they like and what they want changed.

Consumption on digital:

I think both will co-exist and we will see a lot of viral effect with the music videos. But once that effect has happened, people will want to consume it and the consumption there is just for an instant. On TV, it’s constantly running so you don’t have to physically search for it. Both have their own benefits and I think they co-exist with each other. The youth do have a short attention span so we have to make sure that we have a tight playlist, so whenever a viewer switches to our channel there is always a hit track playing.

Stagnation of music on TV:

Yes if a popular track is playing on one channel it will be playing on the next as well but it is about creating a certain consumer experience. How you package the same content offering and make it special for your channel and viewers, is the key. It’s that bond you build with your viewers which connects with them so that they keep coming back to your channel. So it all comes down to how well you do your packaging to build the connect through the song selection and more. We try to spread the cheer through humour and you will always see some jokes, party up- tempo songs on our channel.

Growth of fiction shows on music channels:

It completely depends on what your strategy is, what your offering is and what works well for you. We want to be known for our content and be the leading music channel in the space that is our strategy. 9X Tashan is already the number one Punjabi music channel. With Jhakaas we are the only ones in the space, 9XO is also a leader in the space and Jalwa within the 25 plus have beaten the competitors in the space. So it’s clearly the leadership status that we have achieved in each space. So if some channels moved out of the music space that is working for them. This is what they will continue doing till they find something new.

On-ground activations:

We go to colleges, do mall activations and focus a lot on the youth hangouts with college fests and more. Wherever we see we can connect like a party at a night club or a music event, we associate with them. Basically it’s another touch point for our audience. We are trying to connect with our audiences everywhere and on-ground is an obvious choice. We try and make ourselves present in as many as these places possible through a calendar we look at. The branding also extends to restaurants and cinema halls with Cinemax. We also did a very unique initiative for World Music Day by installing the biggest  wall of music in Mumbai for people to scan songs . We also did some summer camps with Bheegi Billi which was a 15 day activation comprising of workshops for kids and more. We also had a partnership with Essel World where some of their rides were branded.

2013 for music:

The 100 crore mark has been crossed by Hindi films and in 2013 it will continue to grow. The bar has been raised and I think we are going to be seeing a lot of collaborations as there are new sounds and artistes like Honey Singh, etc. who are venturing into bollywood. I guess there will be more channels that will come up with the second phase of digitization and a lot more influences will come into bollywood. May it be a musical year ahead.

Future strategies:

There is going to be a lot of differentiated content which we will be putting out to our viewers but there will also be initiatives centered on marketing, digital, client innovations, offering solutions to brands. All of that put together is going to be the complete experience that we can offer.