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Sony launches youth-focused premium music channel Sony Rox HD

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has expanded its Hindi music portfolio with the launch of a premium youth-focused high-definition (HD) channel Sony Rox HD. The channel made its debut on 15 January.

Sony Rox HDPriced Rs 25 on reference interconnection offer (RIO) basis, Sony Rox HD is currently available on direct-to-home (DTH) platform Tata Sky besides cable TV service providers Fastway Transmission, InDigital and UCN.

The broadcaster’s current Hindi music offering Sony Mix is billed as a mass music channel catering to all segments of music lovers. Thus, Sony’s Hindi music offering will have a mass as well as a premium HD offering.

The company didn’t go for an HD extension of Sony Mix since retro music videos, which are one part of its content offering, are not available in HD format. Moreover, Sony Rox HD was conceived as a standalone premium HD offering.

The channel, targeted at youth in the 15–21-year age group, seeks to differentiate itself from other youth-focused music channels through video (HD) and audio (Dolby) quality, day parting or playing mood-based music, and original music-based programming.

The tagline of the channel is ‘Music Melody Madhoshi’.

Positioned as a contemporary music channel, Sony Rox HD will play Bollywood music of the last 10 years. It has also acquired a huge music library from leading music labels like T-series, Zee Music, Sony Music, YRF, Eros Music, UTV-Disney and TIPS.

(From L to R) NP Singh- CEO,Sony Pictures Networks India, Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP & Business Head – Hindi Movies & Music Cluster. Sony Pictures Networks India

“Having attained maturity in Hindi music genre with Sony Mix, we decided to expand our footprint in Hindi music with Sony Rox HD, which is being positioned as a premium contemporary Hindi music channel for youths offering the best audio and video quality,” SPNI CEO NP Singh said at the launch of the channel.

“Right from the stage of acquisition, to curation and playout, Sony Rox HD is going to be a contemporary Hindi music channel with music of the last 10 years,” noted SPNI EVP and head of Hindi movie and music cluster Neeraj Vyas.

The channel will be offered as part of the HD packages of cable and DTH platforms. The total HD subscriber base in the country is estimated to be 9 million and growing, Vyas added.

Singh is confident that the channel will attract advertisers targeting youths notwithstanding the limited reach that HD channels have vis-à-vis their SD counterparts. For Singh, the clincher will be the differentiated content offering and packaging of the channel.

“Since it is a distinct offering, I am confident of seeing strong advertiser traction on the channel. Reach will continue to grow with the increased penetration of HD in the market,” he stated.

He also brushed aside fears that music streaming services are eating into the consumption of music on TV.

“There is a lot of passive consumption of both audio and video music channels, and this will continue to happen. Hence, I see a bright future for music channels,” he averred.

Besides the traditional revenue streams of advertisement and subscription, Sony Rox HD will have a third revenue stream in the form of on-ground events, Singh said.

Sony Mix plays retro to contemporary music. Rox HD caters to a TG (15–21-year-olds) that watches more music than anybody else.

Vyas pointed out that the current crop of youth music channels is not doing justice to the tag by playing back-to-back music videos. Sony Rox HD will break that monotony by offering music plus programming centred around music, such as ‘Rox School of Music’, ‘Rox Recommends’, ‘Gigs in your Town’ and ‘Rox Original Artiste of the Month’. The channel will also feature interviews with musicians and music reviews.

“Current channels targeted at youth are essentially playing music back to back. I see a huge opportunity because the product is distinct. Textural feel of the channel is different (good quality video through HD and audio through Dolby). The other distinction is day parting. Then there are interstitials like ‘Rox School of Music’ and ‘Gigs in Town’. It will also encourage independent talent,” Vyas said.

‘Rox School of Music’ will offer insights into the world of music. ‘Rox Recommends’ will provide a compilation of the week’s coolest music. ‘Gigs in your Town’ will provide music lovers with information about musical events around them. ‘Original Artist of the Month’ will unearth new singing talent with one indie artist being featured on the channel every month.

According to Vyas, premium brands will feel drawn to the channel as there are not many options for advertisers targeting youth and premium audiences.

The channel will be promoted extensively across all network HD channels, carrier platforms, as well as print, digital and social media.