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MTV India targets regional versions of flagship properties for reach beyond Hind

New Delhi: MTV India, part of the youth, music and English entertainment vertical at Viacom18 is trying to build on its niche offerings by spawning regional language versions of flagship IPs (intellectual properties), to extend reach among the youth beyond the Hindi-speaking market, and target territories such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Further, the company sees much value in both content and music properties that it says, witness much engagement across linear television, social media and its video streaming platform JioCinema. The network is known primarily for reality shows such as Roadies, Splitsvilla and Hustle.

“The question we’re asking ourselves now is if we can transition from just the Hindi-speaking market to regional versions. That is the next opportunity because all of those audiences are very discerning and most of our peers cannot speak of IP ownership the way we can,” Anshul Ailawadi, head, youth, music and English entertainment at Viacom18 said in an interview.

Some of the relevant IPs include the network’s longest-running property, MTV Roadies, a youth adventure reality show currently in its 19th season and MTV Hustle, the rap reality show, which helped in the discovery of underground hip-hop artists.

Ailawadi said these IPs can be accessed by the target audience, which is the 15-24 cohort, across short video platforms, linear television or streaming services. The company has also forayed into consumer experiences through a Roadies-inspired experiential holiday staycation called Roadies Rostel, in collaboration with Leisure ARC in Ahmedabad and a Roadies Koffeehouz, launched in several locations including Chandigarh and recently Surat. Besides, Viacom18 has KaanPhod, that it describes as an artist-first label that offers music tracks, unscripted shows, documentaries on music personalities, masterclasses and even live jam sessions with artists.

Ailawadi said engagement among audiences starts on social media such as Facebook and Instagram besides YouTube and the company’s own streaming platform JioCinema that has scaled up post the latest season of the IPL (Indian Premier League). Other than that, the firm is in regular conversations with audio streaming services such as Spotify thanks to its music properties such as Hustle and Unwind, another music-based show. Besides integrating brands within shows — the way learning platform Unacademy did with Unwind — MTV also provides marketing services to clients by conducting youth studies for them to enhance communication with audiences and is also conceptualizing and producing advertising campaigns.

To be sure, the premium proposition of infotainment, lifestyle and English entertainment remains but the double whammy of the new tariff order by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (that mandated unbundling of channels), and the shift of consumers to OTT has hit the category hard. However, Ailawadi maintains their IPs have survived regardless of which platforms they are watched on. “The impact on linear has been made up by digital. The challenge is that attention spans of young south Asians are getting increasingly fragmented so one has to remain in the realm of visibility for them in an ever-changing world. And you can’t impose what you think is relevant on them so it’s important to remain consumer-focused,” Ailawadi said. The company has only scratched the surface with NFTs, merchandise and experiential centres and will have a lot more to reveal on that front over the next 24-36 months, he added.

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Updated: 03 Aug 2023, 11:48 PM IST

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