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Mathrubhumi's Kappa TV perks up Malayalam youth TV market

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It‘s more than a cuppa coffee that most youth hold in their hands while they lounge about in Café Coffee Days or BruCafes. Kappa TV - the youth focused music channel promoted by the Kozhikode-based Mathrubhumi media group - has chosen to be different from others of its ilk - it has a programming mix in English, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. And this, from a group which has its origins in Kerala where Malayalam and English are the main spoken languages. As compared to this, mainline youth channels MTV, UTV Bindass, Channel V, 9XM have been sticking to one lingo - Hinglish.

Mathrubhumi media group‘s Kappa TV adds some zing to its content with a host of English, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil programming

Mathrubhumi TV CEO Mohan Nair says this is but natural and expected from south India‘s first youth centric channel. He explains: "In south India, young viewers are very much into popular cultures which are represented by Hollywood, Bollywood, Mollywood, and Kollywood. Tamil and Malayali youth also tune into English and Hindi songs from Sony Mix, MTV, UTV Bindaas and 9XM. Hence, we decided to have an amalgam of these languages along with Malayalam and Tamil in our programming mix whether it is in the form of music videos we play or the language that is spoken."

Estimates are that the Malayalam TV ad market is around Rs 675 crore; while the reach of all Malayalam channels put together is 8.1 million households.

Music Mojo on Kappa TV is a Malayalam me-too of MTV Unplugged and Coke Studio

As for the ad rates for Kappa TV, sources say, they hover around Rs 850-Rs 1000 per 10-second spot.

On the content front, Nair reveals that the channel has six to seven hours of original non-fiction content in Malayalam and English on air daily, with shows being repeated twice. Kappa TV is primarily programmed in Malayalam with 60 per cent being back-to-back music videos rolling out in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and English, and 40 per cent being non-fiction shows.

Among the music-based shows, the channel airs Music Mojo, a Malayalam me-too of MTV Unplugged and Coke StudioAwesome Covers, a remix of songs of different languages; Mood Tapes, a show which captures the mood of the day and invites people across neighbourhoods to sing and compose songs; Bindaas Bollywood, which showcases Bollywood‘s best; and International Chart Busters.

I Personally, which focuses on celebrity interviews is past of the channel‘s non-fiction portfolio

Kappa TV‘s non-fiction portfolio includes: I Personally, which focuses on celebrity interviews; Film Lounge, a film review and recommendation show;Creative Chef and Simply Naadan - cookery shows, Street Magic, a magic show and Candid Camera which features celeb photo shoots and style tips from fashion experts. "We have chefs from hotel chain giants like Vivanta by Taj , Crowne Plaza,Holiday Innu and Le Meridien for our show Creative Chef," informs Nair.

A large number of celebrities from the south have already featured on I Personally. These include, Kavya Madhavan, Padmapriya, Rima Kallingal, Swathy Reddy, Mahesh Narayanan, Krish, Haricharan, Rashid Ali, Vijay Yesudas, Shyamaprasad, Kamal, Prathap Pothen , Sibi Malayil and also popular directors like Siddhique Prashant Pillai, Mohanlal and Mammootty.

Creative Chef features some of the chefs from hotel chain giants like Vivanta by Taj, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Innu and Le Meridien

The channel has also roped in celebrities to host its shows. The show Simply Naadan is hosted by Vishnu; Meghna Nair hosts Tales and Tunes and Sanjeev Nair anchors the show Filmography.

Despite an array of shows in the kitty, Nair is quick to acknowledge that he needs more to push the bar as far as content is concerned. "We are mulling over experimenting with standup comedy shows, music video festivals, reality shows, short films and a series which would track the career of the top artistes or film personalities," he notes.

With a moving target such as the fickle youth whose attention span is hard to retain, Kappa TV has had to go the whole hog: continuous promotion, whether it is print or TV, or the outdoors or direct consumer engagement - both offline and online. It helps that it has very successful publications in-house for print communications and advertising in the shape of the Mathrubhumi newspaper - both in English and Malayalam.

"We have allocated around 25-30 per cent of our budget each for print and television, 30 per cent for OOH mediums and the rest for digital," says Nair.

The channel‘s ad agency Maitri also helps out with its promotional activities and brand integrations. Promos and standups, posters and tent cards for shows likeMusic MojoFilm Lounge and Ragaramiyer can be regularly spotted in railway stations, cinema halls, coffee shops, ice-cream parlours like Baskin Robbins. "We have also tied up with certain Kerala online portals like Metro Matinee for advertising about our channel," informs Nair. And he also narrates with pride how Music Mojo‘s popularity has seen a spinoff being played out on Club FM - an in-house radio station.

Mathrubhumi director - marketing & electronic media Shreyams Kumar says the

channel has ignited the imagination 

of the young crowd, within months

of its launch

"International brands like Lulu, Perfetti, Baskin Robbins and national brands like ITC and Kalyan Jewellers are our current advertisers," says Nair. "We also have a host of local advertisers like Kalyan Silks,Bhima Jewellers and Pothys Silks under our roof. We are in final negotiation with a whole host of brands including Idea Cellular and Nestle for brand tieups," affirms Nair.

The channel is available in almost four million cable & satellite TV homes in Kerala, on DEN, Asianet, Siticable and on select cable TV networks in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. This apart, it is in the process of signing up with almost all the DTH providers nationally, which Nair expects will be done before Onam. It is also available internationally in north America and Europe on IPTV platforms, while it can be seen in the Gulf courtesy E-Vision.

Kappa TV has also started pushing its content out digitally on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Video views on YouTube tot up to about 1.5 million, with some 9,550 odd Twitter followers. Facebook likes add up to some 15,000 plus.

Definitely not something to crow about, but Nair says the digital push has been on for only four months and is helping build offline traction. "Viewers from India, United Arab Emirates, US, Saudi Arabia, UK, Qatar, Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Singapore, Oman, Bahrain, New Zealand, Germany, Malaysia and Ireland have been watching online versions of our music shows on YouTube. Videos of all our popular shows are updated daily on our YouTube channel", he reveals.

The digital initiative is handled by a four member team headed by Kappa TV director marketing and electronic media Shreyams Kumar.

"Keralites and the wider Malayalee diaspora exposed to best in international entertainment was thirsting for an ethnic mélange. We at the Mathrubhumi sensed this opportunity, and this gave birth to Kappa, our specialty channel. With pulsating music, riotous humour, film review and intimate interviews, all tightly-edited, it has ignited the imagination of the young crowd, within months of launch", says director - marketing & electronic media Shreyams Kumar.

"This channel is a landmark achievement, since we have realised our long cherished goal of cross-media synergy. That this has occurred in our 90th anniversary year makes for reloaded pleasure."

The group already owns a news channel and a youth channel (both of which was launched in early 2013) under its umbrella. And it has two more licences approved by the ministry of information and broadcasting. One of these is for a general entertainment channel, which it has been planning to launch but has held back on it because of budgetary constraints. "But the desire to have at least one GEC is very much same like any other group," discloses Nair.

Mathrubhumi TV CEO Mohan Nair‘s Kappa TV is

certainly serving some hot ‘cuppa‘ and has left the

youth wanting for more

To keep costs low, the group is using the same news channel infrastructure to roll out Kappa TV daily.

Nair has the right pedigree to successfully steer the Mathrubhumi group‘s TV ambitions. For one, he has print media experience as bureau chief and senior editor of The Economic Times from 1988 to 1999. Then he has the requisite domestic and international TV experience, having worked for six years with Asianet Communications and with Maharaja TV in Sri Lanka before moving to Asianet Communications as COO for six years. He took up the challenge of steering a primarily print group into TV in 2010 and first off the blocks was the Mathrubhumi news channel, followed by Kappa TV.

And his efforts have won some praise and even the attention of rivals.

Leading Malayalam network Asianet has taken note of the success that Kappa TV has achieved. Plans are afoot to revamp one of its channels, Asianet Plus. "We are aware of the importance that a youth channel holds and that is why we are revamping Asianet plus for young viewers in the coming two months ," affirms Asianet, business head, Anup Chandra Shekharan. Sources reveal that this revamp is going to see it emerge as an amalgam of Channel V and Life Ok

The Sun TV group too has awakened to the potential. Music and movies channel Kiran TV has been converted into a movie channel called Kiran Movies. On the anvil, sources say, is another music channel which is quite likely to be under the Surya brand.

Now what more could you ask for?

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