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MTV’s challenges in 2015

MUMBAI: For MTV India, 2014 was the year of laying the foundation for expansion by launching new properties and venturing into the indie music space with a new channel. In 2015, it aims to build on them.

MTV India EVP and business head Aditya Swamy said, “At the start of 2015, we are more strongly poised and placed than we were 12 months ago. The stakes for taking off have been firmly planted and I am very confident that 2015 will actually see us build on our successes and learning.”

Aditya SwamyThe channel claims its viewership has been growing over the past 12 months. Banking on a 50 per cent jump in its viewership in the first half of 2014, the channel hiked its rates for advertisers by 35 per cent.

With agencies being wary of the move, it may be tough for MTV to up its ad rates further in the near future if the market conditions are soft. Media buyers say that this could see advertisers move to other channels as MTV is in a space where competition is high.

Swamy said that for a show in the youth entertainment genre garnering 100 TVT (television viewership in thousands) is a big achievement and that in 2014 ‘Splitsvilla’ crossed the 100-TVT mark in 13 out of its 14 episodes.

“It formed the basis for what we want to build. For the first time, we launched a drama series and had tremendous success with it too. ‘Kaisi Ye Yaariyan’ has remained the number one show in the youth genre for the past 15 weeks, giving us a lot of confidence in drama as content,” he said.

But taking the genre beyond 100 TVT would be a challenge for MTV. The typical Indian family sits together to watch entertainment programmes on mainstream GECs. Besides, a major chunk of the youth too now owes allegiance to Hindi GECs.

However, since a lot of viewership of the channel comes from non-metros and smaller towns, thanks to properties like ‘Splitsvilla’ and ‘Roadies’, the channel is also keen on creating its own content.

“Not only is the content on TV platforms growing, but digital media is also growing aggressively. Our licensing business is taking big strides. The content business holds multiple revenue streams, business opportunities and ways to connect with our growing consumers,” he asserted.

Not surprisingly, the channel recently launched its flagship reality show ‘Roadies’ in a new format. Sans the proverbial brashness of Raghu and Rajiv, the show this season aims to reflect the egalitarian sentiment of the nation by giving contestants the power to choose and by roping in its first female judge in Esha Deol.

According to Swamy, the ‘M’ in MTV stands for ‘multi-faceted’, which is why the channel does not do the same thing twice in a row. The current focus is to build its biggest reality franchise, but “once we have tasted success with something, we want to replicate it and see how we can make it better. As a result, you will also see more dramatic content coming from us.”

In terms of music, MTV has moved beyond just Bollywood music to original music shows. After recently completing the fourth season of ‘MTV Unplugged’, it has announced the fourth season of ‘MTV Coke Studio’.

The channel also airs a show called ‘Spoken Word’ featuring Punjabi artists creating music in the hip-hop genre. The property showcases a new episode every month.

In the digital space MTV has ‘Urban Wanderers’, a show that places urbanites into the wild and then has them video-blog their experiences, as well as ‘Rex Talk’. Besides, it does integrated shows with brands like Nano, Ceat and Wrangler.

“With a lot of learning and fresh creative talent, we are able to push the boundary and keep challenging what we do. We will soon be coming up with our new research as well,” Swamy added.

Pepsi MTV Indies

Launched a year ago, Pepsi MTV Indies is growing at its own pace and is now available across 25 million homes. What started off with less than 100 music videos now plays over 500 of them besides airing several original shows.

Having showcased comedy content and independent films, the channel now has a couple of popular formats that run internationally. It recently acquired the indie music format ‘Dewarists’ and a travelogue called ‘Way Back Home’, with the latter being made by a bunch of young indie film-makers under the MTV Labs project.

“Additionally, we have ‘Ray-Ban Never Hide Sounds’, which is about finding young artists. The ball has started rolling and a lot of work has to be done, a lot of effort is required to take the channel forward. The indie revolution is growing and we are happy to be a part of it,” Swamy concluded.