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'Music channels are under pressure to increase revenues' : Prashant Chothani - Media Worldwide director

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With an already cluttered and competitive music channel market, acquiring a good chunk of market share was not easy for Music India. Having achieved that, Media Worldwide, the company that operates the channel, has plans afoot to launch two regional music channels.

In an exclusive chat with Indiantelevision.com's Richa Dubey, Media Worldwide director Prashant Chothani attributes the success of Music India to a complete Bollywood masala content and a strong focus on distribution.

Excerpts:

Music India had initiated talks with Sahara for diluting stake. What is the status now?

We are still in talks with a few broadcasters. We have nothing to announce at this stage.

Isn't it tough to exist as a standalone music channel broadcaster while others are part of networks?

We are actually planning to expand our bouquet. We are launching two regional music channels. The first one to come up this year will be a Bhojpuri music channel. The Marathi music channel will follow soon. Besides Music India, we have a Bengali music channel called Sangeet Bangla.

How will you manage to raise funds for the two channels?

We can fund it ourselves - and we can always raise debt.

Isn't this the wrong time with a host of new broadcasters preparing to enter the market while analogue cable bandwidth is already choked?

Distribution is definitely getting more expensive as there are a lot of channels and there is not enough space available on cable networks. One has to deal with carriage fee. But I have old relationships in the cable industry. And we run a popularly watched Hindi music channel.

But aren't revenues difficult to come by for music channels?

Music channels are under pressure to increase revenues. GECs are dishing out a lot of music content; they are also airing music talent hunt shows. Even news channels run music promotions. But we are doing well, as is reflected in our ratings.

'Our content is primarily Bollywood based. We prefer showing Shah Rukh Khan rather than the VJs'

Why are MTV and Channel [V] infusing a lot of non music programming?

MTV has put a lot of non music content. They identify themselves as a youth channel -and want to stay connected with the youth. Although Channel [V] does not have non music content as much as MTV, both of them are trying to tap into the semi-GEC space.

As a result, they have diverted from the concept of music television. I believe a music channel should primarily play music.

So how do you define your channel profile?

When we started a year back, our tagline was 'Simply Music' and we have stuck to that. Unlike the other music channels, we don't have VJs. Everything on the channel is fresh and we have all that a music lover wants. We provide latest ring tone codes, availability of CDs, etc. We have not diverted from music. Our audiences want to consume entertainment which is film and lyrics based. Anything related to Bollywood music is available on Music India.

Is 'Simply Music' enough to drive a music channel?

Only music works. As our ratings demonstrate, we are strong competitors to Channel [V] and MTV. Sometimes we are even ahead of Channel [V].

How do you compare in terms of reach?

In cable TV homes, we are No. 2 after MTV. On the direct-to-home (DTH) platform, we are on DD Direct Plus and Dishtv. Both MTV and Channel V are not on DD Direct. Our core focus is to make the channel available to as many people as we can because all viewers want to see music.

What is special about your content?

Our content is primarily Bollywood based. Our programming and scheduling is also distinctively different. We believe that we can't do anything better than the song that is playing on the channel. We prefer showing Shah Rukh Khan rather than the VJs. We have a programme called Lagey Raho which runs across the day and has songs playing a particular theme - dance numbers, romantic and sad songs among others.. We keep refreshing this every 15 minutes. These are then followed by movie trailors in Just Trailors.

But one hardly comes across ads on Music India?

That is how we schedule it. We don't want consumers to get bored of an overdose of ads. We, therefore, do not place more than one or two ads every break; we have a perfect balance. Ultimately, viewers are here to see songs and trailors. Even if the ads come, viewers do not shift the channel because they know that we will be back with music. That is the credibility we have built. We deliver good RoI to the advertisers.

What is the major source of revenue for Music India?

Our business model is ad driven. About 50 per cent of our revenue comes from ads. Movie trailers account for the balance 50 per cent. Our core TG is 15-34. We have brands like Coke, Pepsi, LG, Sony Ericson, Motorola, Nokia, Vodafone, Idea, Tata Indicom, Bajaj, Hero Honda, Margo, HUL, Cadbury, Asian Paints and Perfettis.

How about your other channel Sangeet Bangla?

A lot of content on Sangeet Bangla is exclusive. Besides music, we also show a movie every day at the prime time slot.

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