Trends 2020: Ferzad Palia on what keeps Viacom18 bullish in the year ahead
The year 2019 saw several major developments at Viacom18 and its bouquet of channels. Ferzad Palia, Head - Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18, recounts the key developments as well as shares what to expect from the media group in 2020.
How would you define the year 2019 for the youth and music cluster?
2019 was a defining year for MTV as we continued to create definitive concepts and diverse formats of storytelling, cementing our position as India’s No. 1 Youth Entertainment Brand/ Reaching out to over 300 million homes as on this year, MTV witnessed a whopping 20 billion minutes of watch time on TV and VOOT in 2019.
Our most iconic properties continued to garner eyeballs, with ‘Roadies’ fetching an increase of 37 per cent in TSV (improved time spent) over last year and ‘Ace of Space’ witnessing a 15 per cent rise in TSV just in its second season. With a consistent focus on newer formats and edgy concepts, MTV recorded a sizeable 16 per cent growth in views (627 million to 729 million) this year, with a 91 per cent jump in time spent compared to the last 2 years.
As for MTV Beats, the viewership share increased to 16 per cent in FY20 vs 14 per cent in FY19 with 30 per cent rise in TSV (time spent) across India. Riding on our marquee shows like ‘Baba Ki Chowki’ and ‘Beats Top 20’, we catered to close to 500 million lovers of Bollywood music and triggered the same through partnerships and clutter-breaking content.
Not only programming, we also scaled up our efforts in marketing and consumer engagement initiatives to build brand patrons. Our key campaigns like MTV Trash Talk, Biryani and World Music Day managed to touch upon newer audience segments and trigger interest for issues that matter. On social media, we witnessed a 200 per cent jump in engagement.
What were the most standout trends for the channel in 2019?
The standout trend for us has been that newer, original formats are being accepted by our audiences. They’re looking for something fresh all the time. And that consumption is growing across both TV and Digital. Our biggest launch of the year was ‘MTV Hustle’ – the hunt for India’s first Hip Hop star. The show raked in cumulative views of 109 million on television and on VOOT (68 million TV viewers + 41 million views on VOOT). That’s a combined watch time of 434.6 million minutes of watch time on TV and digital. These are staggering numbers for a show in its debut season, especially one that experiments with a brand new genre with no or very little cover music. All original. All fresh. All new. While we have always been a pioneering brand on social media over the last decade, this year went to the next level with engagement of 200 million up from70 million last year. On an already large base, this is truly a heartening growth. We are now dominantly the leading youth brand in the country across categories, not just Media & Entertainment.
Where do you see MTV and MTV Beats headed in 2020?
In 2020, we will continue our ethos of offering engrossing and contemporary content across both brands, focus on stories that are relevant and explore multiple avenues to get closer to end consumers. Riding on our iconic properties, the focus for MTV would be to build on viewership on improved time spent (TSV) and push the envelope further in brand building and consumer engagement. In terms of content, we would continue to widen the portfolio with newer formats. Moving on to MTV Beats, the focus essentially would be on increasing the mass appeal with new show launches and innovations with our on-going properties.
Do you think digital streaming will pose a serious threat to the broadcast sector in 2020? Why/ why not?
Quite the contrary! We are content creators. The digital medium has opened up another significant pipe for distribution of our content. We’ve always been a multi-platform brand and there is no better time for leveraging our storytelling prowess and brand than now. We have always been where our audience is – TV, Social, on-demand platforms, on-ground, etc. Over the last one year, consumption for our shows on VOOT has grown 3-fold, which indicates the exponential growth the brand has seen across TV and digital. While ‘Roadies’ saw 15 per cent more viewers over last year on VOOT, ‘Ace of Space’ and ‘Love School’ saw a jump of almost 100 per cent compared to the last season. As a brand, MTV saw a rise of 30 per cent in watch time on VOOT moving from 6 billion minutes in 2018 to 8 billion minutes this year. This also makes for very compelling monetisation opportunities, both advertising led, and subscription led. Our early efforts are now paying rich dividends.