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We ensure too much advertising doesn't make MTV Beats cluttered: Ferzad Palia, Viacom 18

22-January-2018
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We ensure too much advertising doesn't make MTV Beats cluttered: Ferzad Palia, Viacom 18

It's been a year since MTV Beats, a 24x7 Hindi music channel, was launched after replacing MTV Indies. Ferzad Palia, Head- Youth, Music and English Entertainment spoke about the journey of MTV Beats and plans for 2018. With the tagline ‘Blood Main Hai Beat’, Palia revealed that the channel will focus on Bollywood buffs and cater to their needs. Edited excerpts: 
What would you say was the turning point to end Indies and rebrand it to Beats?
I don’t think one was linked to the other. We wanted to have a second music channel for the mass market for a long time but then plans finally came to fruition about 18-20 months back. Then we launched MTV Beats because we have very different plans for MTV as a brand. If you look at the MTV universe overall, MTV Indies was more for an urban market and MTV Beats is known to be our mass market play. 
Also in a lot of research that we did, consumers kept asking us for more music but the MTV product has itself evolved over the last few years into a youth brand and not just music. Hence we saw an opportunity to launch a dedicated 24 hours music channel because right from the inception of the MTV it has been synonymous with youth and music. MTV is our youth play and MTV Beats is our music play. 
MTV Indies was a product which is far better suited in the current environment to a digital platform. So that's why we thought it made far more financial sense to have MTV Indies as a non-linear product because that's the kind of consumption it was drawing. MTV Indies is a business that is far better on ground than live TV and that's what we will be focusing on and it will be digital product. It's too early to talk about it right now but we will announce it soon. 
How has the one year journey for MTV Beats been?
Fantastic! I think we have achieved within 12 months what some of our competitors achieved in more than 12 years. In terms of viewership there has been a significant increase. The feedback from consumers is phenomenal both in terms of look, packaging, scheduling, mood mapping, the short format content we create, which is different from others, and also our HD feed. The overall experience is enriching and that is reflected in our ratings as well. To achieve all of that in a span of 12 months or under, thrills us. Then there is the healthy demands from our advertisers with the unique opportunity that we offer them in terms of integration, customization and of course the regular 20 -30 sec spots. Thankfully, we couldn’t ask for more.

Can you share some data on how much growth has happened in 2017?
The growth has been exponential but then again when you launch you start very low and then go higher. Having said that since the time we have launched MTV Beats, we were ahead of many channels in our first week. We are more thrilled about, the fact that our numbers are increasing constantly and we are up there in the top three channels.

400mn+ annual no. of viewers reached (2+ All India) – Target Audience

118% channel viewership growth by the end of 2017 for both overall audience & Youth (2+ & 15-30 HSM Launch Wk 43 vs Wk 52’17) (HSM : Hindi Speaking Medium)

Our HD offering, MTV BEATS HD is the No.1 HD Music Channel

How has being an FTA channel impacted the reach of the channel?
We launched the channel in post FreeDish era so we don’t have any comparison numbers but yes, from what we can see, being available on the FreeDish platform clearly has its advantages. It obviously gets you to the audience who wouldn’t have chance to watch the channel. But the same thing would hold true for many. It's just an another DTH provider for us. 
How have advertisers responded to MTV Beats? Which are the categories that MTV Beats has on- board?
We had interest from advertisers from day one. There were some brands which supported us from the very first day while some brands would tell us that they will wait and watch how the market or consumers react to us. Thankfully in the first three months of operation itself, the reluctant parties wanted to partner with us
We are very clear on our monetization strategy and the value that we expect for our products and input. The good part is we have seen extremely good traction from advertisers and agencies. Advertising growth has been phenomenal and both our films and rates are on the upswing. We don’t believe in advertising so much that our channel becomes cluttered and that we exceed the obnoxious amount of ad minutes per hour where consumers are left watching advertisements with very little content. We are very clear of first taking care of our consumers and products.

(Top 5 categories that advertise on MTV Beats: FMCG/Auto/Handsets/Telecom/E-commerce)

What according to you has helped the channel achieve such good rankings?
What has wonderfully worked for us is our packaging. I think it was a masterstroke to go with fullscreen video to enhance the viewing experience. The differentiation in terms of scheduling and programming playout, which is different themes for different days, again worked wonderfully for us. Also the other short formats we are playing- Fit Stop with Sunny Leone and House Party with Badshah have worked really well for the brand. Also we are well distributed. I think all these things helped us to grow otherwise you can initially shine as a brand but later the product has to deliver. Also, people are spending a lot of time watching us.
(Ended the year with 25min Time Spent as the highest watched contemporary music channel (Wk 52’17 15-30 HSM))

How has the online music streaming growth impacted TV viewership?
If you compare the last four weeks of 2016 with 2017, the TV music genre has grown by 60 per cent. So the growth is phenomenal on television. Some people fail to understand that the digital growth consumption on other platforms and services is not coming at the cost of TV; it's just the opportunity to consume digitally which was not there earlier that is responsible for the growth in digital.

How much growth do you expect this year for the TV music industry?
The growth obviously will be there but how much is hard to tell. There is definitely a growing amount of interest in the genre. So the viewership will increase and so will the advertising revenue. In my opinion the growth in ad revenue for this genre should be anywhere between 20-25 percent. But it's different for different players. It's a combination of people increasing the rates and deriving value for what they are delivering.

What are your plans in 2018 for MTV Beats ?
The one thing we are doing is that we are increasing our short formats and that demand has come from consumers. Also we are launching MTV Beats Discover, a platform for upcoming cover singers and giving them a chance to sing, it will have no judges and no voting. MTV Beats Discover is not a design to hunt India’s next best singer, it is designed to be a platform for people who like to sing. We will also create original music as we go along.
MTV Beats aims to grow its roster of shows with more celebrity faces and music-related content.
The channel is geared to launch a brand new season of Gaano Ka Rafu Center 2.0. The second season of the show will be hosted by No No Money Singh a.k.a Sahil Khattar, inviting musicians, singers, composers, and lyricists as guests.
Strengthening its promise to provide an intense musical indulgence through specially curated properties, MTV Beats is looking to enhance its Wednesday programming with Dil Beats, capturing the true essence of love. The show will revolve around romance and its various nuances and is scheduled to premiere in February.

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