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News |  07 Feb 2014 20:38 |  By RnMTeam

Ferzad Palia: We thought it would be a terrible year

Ferzad Palia, Vice President and General Manager, English Entertainment at Viacom 18

2013 for the music industry

This year has been a great year for international music. There have been so many breakthrough artistes and tracks. We have seen renewed interest from new sections of audiences. More people are becoming interested in international music. The channel is getting traction across various parts of the country, not just the big metros. Pop has had a great year, be it your Miley Cyrus or whoever. It might be for other reasons but whatever works, right?

2013 for Vh1- on-air, on-ground and digitally

I think it was very good actually, because of the kind of artistes that came out. A whole new scene has developed and electronic music is clearly on the rise. The more you play it, the more they like it and the more they buy and the more gigs they attend. There is an ecosystem developing around this scene. The other trend we have witnessed is that it has grown significantly, especially out of the metros.

On Social media we have been doing extremely well. On Facebook we have about 2.6 million fans, which is a healthy number. We do not market ourselves too much to get high number, but then again, 2.6 million is a large number to have in international music. On Twitter we have about 56.1 K followers. Most importantly, we have a very well engaged audience. The people of this country have become very active on twitter.

On ground we had our first big EDM festival, Vh1 Supersonic.

Expectations this year for Vh1 and how much was achieved

Honestly, I thought it would be a terrible year, the way the market was looking initially. However, it has been one of our better years. In terms of advertisers we have done well, audience wise it has been great. On the marketing front I think we have done very well; we have formed 400-500 alliances across the country, which is a very labour intensive task. We have observed heavy growth in the numbers; viewers and advertisers.

Campaigns launched this year did well

At Vh1 we do not necessarily look at a ‘strong campaign’. It is more about reaching out. We do, I would like to believe, good campaigns. The Golden Globes went of very well, as a campaign, so has the recent Grammy campaign. If we go show-wise on television, all of these campaigns have actually done quite well.

Partnerships made this year

It is not just that we propagate our own agenda. They are doing their own research and seeing how English entertainment and international music is on the rise. It is a cycle; people like the music, more people get into it, more the word gets around, the more the advertisers want to associate themselves with the scene. More audiences understand artistes and talk about them. Then advertisers are bound to come to you saying, “Since you are the domain experts, create something unique for us.” That is how we have formed successful partnerships with brands like Micromax, among others.

Promotional activities received by the audiences and advertisers

I would like to believe audiences received it very well. We have different properties that cater to different audiences. Like Vh1 Classics is for the mature audiences while Dance is watched by younger audiences. We have done a lot of customisations which have broadened the base for us. We did something with Tata Manza called Club Class, which was a co-production with CNBC, where we shot a show interviewing people who loved music but are corporate big daddies, politicians, models and musicians themselves.

With advertisers, they gave us more money so I am guessing they responded well too. And they continue to be with us. We are in conversations for fairly large partnerships now. What we do very well and very integrally is maintain good partnerships with advertisers. We actually go out and try and integrate them as much as possible.

Percentage of growth you witnessed through advertising in 2013

2012 was a slightly slower year on the ad sales front, but 2013 has just changed all of that dramatically and 2014 looks no different. We have grown 25+ percent.

What to expect from the industry in 2014

Lots of innovations, lots of segmentation. There will be people who do things for different pockets of audiences, do new things for the same set of audiences and do differently what is currently going on. You will see a lot more collaborations and a lot more corporate and brand involvement in music. The reason is simple; after maybe a year or two of lull, international music is back and you are seeing it everywhere, from television to radio to the digital and in the live music scene. It is too big a segment to be given serious respect. It is a great way to reach your audience, because you are reaching them with something that they love and not something that is forcefully shoved down their throats.

Vh1’s plans for 2014

We are obviously going to scale up our existing properties and we will definitely have new properties like we do every year. Whether they are genre specific, multi genre or count-down formats, that time will tell. Award shows will continue to be an integral part. We may look at a local production. From our marketing front, we hope to ramp up our 400+ partnerships to 600, if not more, by the end of the year, even in our smaller markets. On the assets front, build more partnerships and get more money. On ground is huge for us. We just made our big splash with Vh1 Supersonic in December 2013. We are currently thinking about how to make it larger, maybe more frequent. Supersonic will focus on the EDM space but in the other areas, we may look at tying up with other festivals.