Music channels sing growth tune in 2012: Punit Pandey, EVP & Business Head, 9X Media Group


The Music Broadcasting scenario in 2012 has registered a significant growth both in terms of viewership, which is more consumption of the genre leading to absolute GRPs, and also in terms of ad revenues as compared to 2010.

Way back in early 2010, the youth & music genre had a viewership share of 5.6 per cent in the total TV space, which went up to 6.7 per cent in 2011 and has grown to 8.5 per cent by end of 2012. One of the key reasons for the growth in consumption is the number of channels launched in these three years. There currently exist 15 Hindi music/youth channels catering to youth (the C&S 15-24 ABC target segment), which had only a count of eight in early 2010.

Music genre revenues for the year 2012 were in the region of Rs 5.50 - Rs 6 billion with the Hindi Music genre contributing the lion’s share at approximately Rs 4.25 – 4.50 billion. In 2011 this number was around Rs 3.50 – 4 billion and should translate to Rs 4.80 – 5 billion in calendar year 2013.

I would optimistically call this a significant growth given the nature of the content on a pure play music channel. Music which forms over 90 per cent of the content on any pure play music channel is a generic commodity. Therefore the key differentiator between pure play music channels is the packaging and the presentation by the channel which is the ‘Viewer Experience’.

Like at 9XM, we give equal attention to content and the on-air presentation. The A Cappella version of Maa Tujhe Salam or the Ganesh special collaboration with Taufiq Quershi or the special rendition of the popular freedom song Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawano Ka aired on 9XM has always resonated well with the viewers giving the channel an edge over other similar pure music channels. With viewers now having the option to choose the channels they want to watch, content may soon become more important than distribution in the digital era and therefore the on-air presentation will play a bigger role in case of pure music channels like ours.

Another trend in the music broadcasting sector is the launch of regional and niche channels. At 9X Media, we have launched regional channels such as 9X Tashan (the Punjabi music channel) and 9X Jhakaas (Maharashtra’s first Marathi music channel) and have also ventured into the niche category with 9XO (International music channel) and 9X Jalwa (Timeless Bollywood Hits channel). These regional channels get their fair share of loyal viewers thus bringing in ad revenues from regional as well as national clients with regional focus. The niche channels are now part of media plans to target a specific set of consumers who are loyal viewers of such channels. With digitisation, the subscription revenues for such channels are also on the rise.

In the first phase of digitisation which was restricted only to the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, niche television channels have gained ground. These channels have witnessed an increase in viewership thanks to the higher reach of digital networks. While analog networks had the bandwidth to carry only 80 to 90 channels, digital networks can carry as many as 500 channels.

Also, broadcasters earlier had to shell out exorbitant carriage fees to cable operators. In the digital era, this fee is expected to drop significantly.

The implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS) in the second phase will cover 38 cities. This will positively impact the music television genre on account of increase in viewership driven by increasing Reach and TS (Time Spent) Viewer. This in turn should help to increase genre revenues. Music channels would now be included in Media plans to boost incremental reach along with frequency. Also, as music channels broadly do not operate at high PCS levels like the GECs, with DAS this factor gets negated. Hence, Music channels will witness increased reach.

2012 also witnessed the change in the programming strategy of some of the music and music + youth channels, with Channel [V] dropping music from its content and MTV lowering the music content substantially. In 2013, we may see more channels going this route because of higher GRP / Revenue potential. Ad sales deals could be CPRP (Cost per Rating Point) driven instead of ER (Effective Rate) driven. However such a business model will need larger break even periods.

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