Channel V's musical reboot

MUMBAI: It has already happened Down Under. Earlier this year, in Australia, Foxtel merged two of its channels Channel [V] and [V] Hits into a new service called [V] Hits running back to back music clips, shuttering all its long form music shows. Huge groans were heard amongst all those who had got used to its cutting edge programming over the 20 years of its existence.

Something similar is being repeated in India too. Channel [V], was earlier known for its razz-m-tazzy VJs and great shows between the late nineties and up to 2005 and was quite a cult brand. That’s when the management of Star India decided to move it into fiction and non-fiction television, reducing the amount of music played out on the channel. Cut to 1 August 2016, and it’s back to music for Channel [V], almost mirroring what has happened in Ozland.

Popular Channel [V] shows such Sadda Haq, Gumrah, Mastaangi, Dil Dostii Dance, D4, which had defined it over the past few years are being shipped out to its Hotstar OTT platform. Replacing them will be round the clock music – Hindi, English and popular aired around specially packaged programs. Among the shows that have been introduced include: Hit Machine, Late Night, Most W@anted, V Shuffle, Dance with V, ‘V Hangover, V-non-stop, V international, and V rush.

The channel has also gone in for a brand refresh with a new look and logo. The two square brackets around the V have disappeared finally, which is indeed refereshing. In a beautiful mix of real world meets contemporary digital design, the origami-inspired logo manages to create a distinct, youthful and approachable form connecting to the youth. The new logo and channel packaging have been created by the in-house design team.

“Music channels today feature a cluttered environment where the visual experience is compromised. Three fourths of screen is covered with ads or banners with one ticker moving in two directions,” points out general manager & executive VP Channel [V], Star Gold, Movies OK, Utsav Movies Hemal Jhaveri. “Space is blocked for random selfies, there’s a bug on the top left. I always used to wonder where the music and the video is? We observed what was happening and decided to revamp Channel [V]. An uncluttered look, great music videos, minimal graphics on screen will ensure a high-quality experience to the viewer, promising an unparalleled visual experience.”

According to Jhaveri Indian music channels on air today lack a unique voice, and the category has been dormant for quite some time. According to the Ficci KPMG report 2015 – the last one for which music channels were reported – the music television genre had seen an erosion in viewership and ad revenues dropping from a 3.6 viewership share in 2013 to 3.2 per cent in 2014 and from four per cent ad share in 2013 to three per cent in 2014. Among the players in the segment include: Music India, MTV Indies, National Geographic Music, VH1, B4U Music, Music Xpress, Zing, Mastii, Sony Mix, 9XM, 9XO, ETC, 9X Jalwa, Music India, MTunes etc.

Jhaveri is quite sanguine that advertising will continue with the channel and newer ones will hop on with the new positioning. “Advertisers serving our target group will remain to be in our portfolio. They pay for eyeballs. If a product is well distributed and the content talks to the target group, advertisers will love to get on board with us,” he says.

A media planner however adds a note of caution. “Air time on music channels is a commodity,. The entire genre does revenues of not more than Rs 250 crore, even that is a bit on the higher side, ” she says. “Hence, Channel V cannot expect to get the same rates it used to enjoy. The stickiness on music television is simply not there as most music video watchers tend to switch between different channels a lot. There are other B2B ad revenue models and native content deals that Channel V should consider. The advantage for Channel V is that it is a part of the Star India network. It can cross sell between its channels and even its hotstar platform, which should work in its favour.”

Jhaveri points out to what he claims is another USP for the channel. Says he: “V will be the only channel which will play the best of Indian and International music on the same platform. The global Indian youth today enjoys latest Indian hits as well as popular international music. Staying true to its image, V will be the only channel to deliver a complete package at the consumer's doorstep.”

It is over to the Indian youth –who are consuming more and more on digital and on handheld devices– to decide on whether that promise is good enough for them to get on to Channel V circa 2016. And whether the channel's latest reboot ends up being music for Star India's ears.

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