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9X Media plans range of initiatives to grow on digital in 2014

MUMBAI: Among the large music networks, 9X Media has been steadily climbing the ladder in the digital space. The network’s Bollywood music channel 9XM recently got five million ‘likes’ on Facebook and the channel already has a number of launches ready for this year on the digital front.

With more and more audiences beginning to engage with the network on various platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the team at 9X Media is developing new properties to further drive that engagement.

In 2014, the network will focus on launching new music IPs on the lines of the ‘Sanskari Rap’ video of Alok Nath and the special ‘Kudi Tu Patakka’ song created for 9X Tashan (the Punjabi music channel).

In addition, 9XM is also gearing up for the launch of a mobile app, which is to be announced in May. With 31 different mobile apps currently catering to a wide range of audiences, the network plans to take that number to 33 by year end.

Vibha GosherSpeaking to TelevisionPost.com, 9X Media SVP digital Vibha Gosher said, “We have come far from where we were last year. Now there are more audiences, so we have to constantly create new things to keep them engaged. Digital plays a big role in amplifying the content, and with so much happening in the space, it’s very difficult to be seen on digital these days but we have really performed well.”

Content redistribution is another aspect the channel aims to build on, by forging more partnerships globally. Currently, the content of 9XM and 9X Tashan is re-distributed in the US, the Middle East and Indonesia through an array of partners like Vuclip, Yupp TV and OnMobile. The network is currently in talks for redistribution in Bangladesh as well.

There is also a demand to translate the content into other languages, which the channel may explore within this year.

“There is potential and demand to translate the content but right now we are attending to the masses, and thus the content is in Hindi. If we see a big opportunity and a large audience for it, we might explore the option this year,” Gosher added.

Apart from 9XM, work is also on to build 9X Jhakaas (Marathi channel) and 9X Tashan through collaborations with the Marathi and Punjabi film and music industry respectively. The genres being niche, there is more work required on digital to build engagement.

9X Jalwa has seen collaborations with Universal Music on iTunes recently, and work is on to develop an application for the channel. There are also initiatives to build 9XO (English music channel) on digital. 9XO currently has a base on Twitter and it airs a countdown show Tweetdown on the basis of tweets.

The network currently hosts a lot of initiatives on various digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, WeChat and WhatsApp.

Digital is now growing to become an important platform for products across categories. While music is a commodity, its packaging makes all the difference.

Thus, 9X’s strategy revolves around creating engaging properties through its animated characters and other specially created music IPs.

The properties include 9XM Top9—a weekly Bollywood music countdown show based on votes on Facebook and Twitter and 9XM Likes—a Facebook fan opinion-led on-air show, 9XO Tweetdown—a music countdown based on tweets, WeChat with Stars—where users post audio/video questions for their favourite stars and WhatsApp groups promoting jokes and more. Besides, they also launched a series of Bade Chote stickers on WeChat.

Among the recent videos created by the network are ‘Kudi Tu Patakka’ which garnered over 1.4 million views on YouTube, ‘Sanskaari Valentine’s Day’ with Alok Nath and the recently released ‘Bakwaaspan’, Bade Chote’s fun rap with Yo Yo Honey Singh. The network is gearing up to launch a new song on the space yet again.

While all this points towards higher investments in digital, Gosher claims that they have not increased their spend on the space and aim to put in the same money but extract more from it.

Monetisation thus will be driven mainly by content re-distribution, along with strengthening relationships with telecom players to explore other venues of revenue generation.

With many digital platforms offering music on the go, driving engagement through innovative initiatives will be the key challenge going ahead.

“Like all growing industries, the music industry is also adapting to new mediums and repurposing the content on digital platforms. All labels release their content on YouTube before any other medium. This definitely makes us work harder to get engagement on our platforms. However, a song becomes big only when it’s been consumed by audiences across platforms,” stated Gosher.