9X Media’s Rajjita Hemwani on music channels' growth, OTT threat and content ideation

She expects the regional music industry to grow in the same way the Hindi industry did.

MUMBAI: India’s love for music, whether it is Bollywood, retro or hip-hop, has never seen a slide. However, the emergence of OTT platforms made TV channels sit up and take notice.

9X Media SVP creative content and new business Rajjita Hemwani is confident of the stability of TV channels because of the concept of family viewing. She said, “Music as a genre is going to evolve after a certain point in time. The way we consume music and the kind of music being consumed will also change. We have tons of talent in our industry, different regions and languages and so there is diversity in music.”

According to a FICCI report, around 150 million unique users were streaming music in India in 2017, which are thrice the 50 million users in 2016. However, Hemwani feels that if the TV experience is made worthwhile, there won’t be any reason to eye anyone as a threat. “You have to obviously grow with times and when the dynamics of the business change you have to see what you add on or what you do differently for your consumer to stay and watch your channel,” she said.

A Neilson report mentioned that Indians with internet access prefer to watch more music videos, rather than stream music, due to the heavy linkage between music and the Indian film industry. As per the report, the share of time spent on music consumption by the audiences on television was the least with 14.8 per cent as against streaming music videos with 21.6 per cent, audio services with 16.9 per cent and listening to a digital music library with 16.3 per cent.

Even with the new TRAI tariff order (NTO) coming into the picture, 9X Media (which operates five FTA music channels 9XM, 9X Jhakaas, 9X Jalwa, 9X Tashan and 9XO) saw good results. 9XM garnered third position with 189103 impressions (000s) sum in the BARC’s week 14 data. In spite of the implementation of NTO, the company’s strategy stayed the same. “There are developments in every business so you don’t suddenly wake up one morning and try to change the whole system,” she mentioned.

Even the regional cluster is raising the bar not only in the digital world but also on linear television. Hemwani said that the regional music channels’ growth trajectory will be similar to the Hindi music channel’s growth. “There are various platforms for the consumers, so we only see good times coming in. The market is only going to be growing and I think it is a very fertile and active time, whether it’s Hindi or regional; it is music,” she said.

Music channels just can’t rely on repeating airings of songs. Hemwani said that one needs to create content with the persona of the channel to showcase interesting ideas. “If you see that theatrical walk-ins have reduced because of any possible reason and that doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t being made. The good movies still get footfalls. It is far challenging where people come together and think of new ideas,” she concluded. 

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