Creating content for 'FullyFaltoo' is creatively liberating: Anshul Ailawadi

Creating content for 'FullyFaltoo' is creatively liberating: Anshul Ailawadi

The Viacom18 head of YME cluster spoke about its own NFT marketplace and the network’s plans for 2

Anshul Ailawadi

Mumbai: Viacom18’s youth, music and English entertainment (YME) cluster which operates the channels MTV, MTV Beats, Comedy Central, Colors Infinity and Vh1, has added two more brands to its roster including short video destination and NFT marketplace 'FullyFaltoo' and its music division 'KaanPhod.'

The cluster garnered 9.8 billion impressions across its TV and social media platforms and its sports content clocked a watch time of 80 million viewing minutes in 2021. The 2021-22 season of La Liga garnered a cumulative reach of 14 million which is more than the reach of UEFA Champions League. NBA, broadcast on MTV and Vh1, saw almost 50 per cent of its audiences coming from rural markets. Viacom18 is planning to launch a full-fledged sports channel that brings to question whether sports content will remain on MTV.

The YME network is bringing a fresh season of “MTV Roadies” this time held in South Africa and the second season of its music reality show “MTV Hustle.” Comedy Central has added seven new English shows that have never been viewed in India to its programming. The cluster also announced the launch of a new IP called “The Inventor’s Challenge” on the English entertainment channel Colors Infinity. The production of the show is underway.

Spearheading the expansion of the cluster brands on digital and its fresh content slate is Viacom18 head – YME cluster Anshul Ailawadi. He spoke to on his outlook on sports, English entertainment, NFT, and entering the music IP business.

On relaunching the FullyFaltoo brand

FullyFaltoo is one of our very own brands that we’re reviving. The thing about MTV is that people are used to seeing a certain kind of content and perspective on MTV. We may or may not always do that with FullyFaltoo. It is creatively liberating to have a different platform. You have some recall but not too much baggage. The team can push the envelope in a way that they might not have necessarily been able to do for MTV. That’s because you’re creating on a clean slate.

For young people, narratives can vary and you can tell a story in 30 seconds, three minutes, or eight minutes. Fully Faltoo is our attempt at that. It is basically digital-only fun content. The content will be available across all video platforms whether it is YouTube, Facebook, or our own OTT Voot and Jio. We have over a dozen shows in the pipeline and in the coming months, you’ll see us drop at least three to four episodes per week on FullyFaltoo.

The team behind FullyFaltoo is a mix of people who’ve been working for the cluster for some time now and some new folks who’ve joined. We have a programming team for channels, a creative team that works on promos and short-form etc, and a content team. These teams are working together to create the output.

On the learnings from FullyFaltooNFT drop

Our first drop with 3000+ pieces was sold out in 36 hours. The onboarding process was fairly simple. Our partner GuardianLink built the entire tech stack and managed the payments. We only allowed settlement in fiat currencies and didn’t accept crypto otherwise the pricing would have been very different.

No one has seen how the NFT space will grow so I wouldn’t dismiss its revenue potential. I think that can change very quickly. If I told you ten years ago that someone would make a living out of creating videos, you’d be sceptical. 

From a brand engagement perspective, we can do something special only for those fans who own our NFTs. An experience that money can’t buy. That would add value to our own properties whether it is “Roadies” or “Splitsvilla.”

We’re planning our next drop-in for three to four months only because there’s so much for us to learn as well. The learnings from the first drop were interesting. It will help us innovate further. The timeline for the next drop can change by the way.

On launching music division KaanPhod

The brief to the team is any music that you think should be heard. There are no limitations in terms of genre. The first season of "Open Mic" will feature ten artists, ten music videos and 25 songs. It’s an interesting mix of Bollywood-style music, folk music, hip-hop etc.

We’re tying up with certain partners to monetise the IP who will aid our conversations with streaming platforms. The IPs will also be monetised on social platforms such as YouTube and Facebook as well as our TV channels. We keep getting brands on MTV Beats but with our original IP we’ll try getting a brand to sponsor the music video opening up another avenue for monetisation. 

On the insight driving youth, music and English entertainment cluster

We conducted a lot of research post-pandemic which showed that people are looking forward to escaping into a new reality. This insight might mean different things to different people; however, our interpretation was that people wanted to experience a better version of the world that they currently reside in. Going forward, the revamp of our shows such as “Roadies,” “MTV Hustle” and the positioning of our brand will be aligned with this insight so that the viewers’ escapist tendencies are satisfied. 

On reinvigorating the English entertainment genre

The NTO impacted the distribution landscape for the English entertainment genre. In India, there is an opportunity for people who want to consume English content on TV. It is a medium that has very different friction because you have the opportunity to curate content. That’s a huge need gap and I think brands like Colors Infinity and Comedy Central are helping drive the curation story. I do think there should be more original English content on TV. The combination of Indian English content on OTT platforms and on English channels is a very robust conversation.

On creating original shows for English entertainment

In the past, we’ve done shows like “The Stage” and “Bffs” with Vogue, but “The Inventor Challenge” is a unique initiative in the English entertainment space.  We have just launched the call for entries and the production of the show is underway so I can’t share more about that right now. It has been a really steep learning curve for us and a lot depends on the kind of inventors we are able to get on board. The team is working day and night to ensure the show is a success.

“The Inventor’s Challenge” is based on an international IP called “Everyday Edisons” that we’re adapting for Indian audiences. It is a little bit different. The show is about the journey of a young inventor who conceptualises an idea and takes it to prototype.

On whether sports content will find a permanent home at MTV

In some form, sports and sports-related content will be available on MTV. Though, we have to be careful about one thing. For us, properties that we picked up on MTV were strategically scheduled for the morning or late evening because our free commercial time (FCT) is very critical for us. MTV is not becoming a sports-only channel since our network will also launch a dedicated sports offering.

It is interesting that 50 per cent of audiences for the NBA came from rural markets giving it a chance to be sampled by so many more homes. Emerging sports may be interesting to audiences in tiers 2, 3 provided that you do two things. One is making them less intimidating and the second is localising the language format. That means creating clarity on what the sport is, its rules, and sparking general interest. The second thing that we did was telecast NBA on MTV in Hindi which is something that nobody else has done.

This period will be an inflection point for non-cricket sports across the length and breadth of India. It’s already happening and you’ll see that kids' interest in sports like football is growing at a much faster clip than maybe even cricket. When you look at conventional ratings, you’ll see that in terms of absolute ratings there is a difference between cricket and emerging sports but in terms of growth, the latter is growing much faster.