Music channels bet on shows to boost viewership

MUMBAI: Seems like music channels are playing second fiddle to online music platforms when it comes to playing tracks. In an attempt to grab more eyeballs, pure-play music channels on television are moving away from the music content and focusing more on the youth-centric shows.

A study done by video intelligence platform Vidooly Media Tech said that Indian users largely consume music content on YouTube. In the music segment, Hindi and electronic music were the two most popular genres among YouTube users and the music videos generated over 3 billion views.

Observing the trend in the television space, the channels that kick-started their existence as a pure-play music channels are now experimenting with reality shows or shifting their focus to youth-centric content. Several music channels have changed their programming line-up in a bid to put their finger on the viewer’s pulse.

Launched in 1996, MTV rolled out its first reality show in 2003 – Roadies. After that, there was no turning back as the channel cut down music content in favour of youth-based shows. Roadies has completed 15 seasons while Splitsvilla is on its 10th. The list goes on with Dropout, Girls on Top, Kaisi Ye Yaariyan, India’s Next Top Model, Love School etc. Bigg Boss 11 is the latest addition which will be its first time on the music channel.

One can ask the question – what happens to the music content ratio? It might have decreased because of the captive audience in India, or it might be a deliberate strategy to move towards youth-centric shows or because of the report by Vidooly that said about the music content consumed more over YouTube.

Adding more to the context, Channel V launched in 1994 and during its heydays, the channel launched several iconic campaigns. Later, In search of greener pastures, Channel V became youth focussed. Attempts were made to rebrand Channel V as a reality show channel, moving away from its music-only programming. The plans, however, did not come to fruition as the channel shifted its focus away from music and it lost much of its popularity and TRPs. Therefore, viewership dropped drastically. In 2016, this mistake was corrected: it went back to playing music videos on loop. Nevertheless, it was too late for Channel V to regain popularity, and Star India decided to shut down operations.

There comes another channel called Zing, formerly known as Zee Muzic and Music Asia, which is an India-based music television channel owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises, which broadcasts in Hindi and other regional languages. It also features humour, animation, spoofs and celebrity lifestyle in addition to music. Shows like Pyaar Tune Kya Kia, Aye Zindagi and Love Diaries are among the shows added to the list with an intention to grab the eyeballs of the viewers.

The Times Group’s Indian glamour and entertainment television channel—Zoom which started out as a music, Bollywood and serial channel, pulled serials quite quickly off the air, within months it was a music + Bollywood news channel.  The OTT platform Viu is now experimenting with the OTT-to-TV format. It has tied up with lifestyle channel Zoom to broadcast its shows, Spotlight and Gehraiyaan to bring in larger audiences. 

Breaking away from the mould, Sony Mix still stays pure to music. MTV Beats is one that shows celebrity-curated theme-based music shows like Fit Stop with Sunny Leone and House Party with rapper Badshah. Mastiii has shows that are related to music too.

Also, Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ 9XM has the popular The Bakwaas Show where film stars come to promote their films. Do Pal Ka Interval is a humorous take on the upcoming Bollywood movies based on their trailer and story.

Although the music content on music channels is steadily diminishing, the jury is still out on whether consumption of music will become an online phenomenon. Only time will tell if the move to reality shows will pay dividends in the long run for the channels.

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