MTV, Channel V, VH1; the images that are conjured in the mind when these channels are thought about is that these are essentially music channels or are they? The genre is today called youth channels.
Channel V in recent times seems to have edged out other youth/music channels as the number 1 youth channel in the country. This seems to be a resultant of them having turned largely into a format show channel and that seems to be the success mantra to capture today’s youth as an audience.
Not so long ago, music channels were amongst the favoured youth destinations on TV with some VJs featuring in the youth icon lists, which soon got replaced by less talk and more music, and then this saw the evolution of music channels into full-fledged youth hangouts with format shows.
This space is getting crowded now with many music channels and they are all trying to find their own niche; so on one hand, while you have a music channel with lots of music and animated messages in between songs and breaks, there is another which seems to have become a format show channel completely, and yet another which has differentiated music content for different age groups and is clearly targeting the housewives and not mainly the youth as a target audience.
The youth, meanwhile, seem to be lapping up the variety that is being dished out to them. The last week’s number 1 channel has a majority of its programmes as positive format shows for the youth and the number 2 channel in the genre is clearly a channel which shows a lot of music videos, most of them on the latest releases.
During prime music viewing time on these music playing channels, the content can hardly be differentiated as all of them will play the latest movie songs and it starts becoming difficult to differentiate one music channel from the other.
Radio is another medium which caters to the youth’s interest in music and with most phones having a built-in radio, their thirst for music (in the form of latest hits or that from the yesteryears) is satiated to a large extent by this medium.
The city-centric youth have moved in large numbers to their smart phones, touch devices and the internet as a whole. This phenomenon is getting replicated especially among the youth in other parts of India too. The habit that is getting formed seems to be that the music video is first sampled on the television, and then they clearly choose their favourite songs which in turn gets downloaded onto their phones etc. Most of the music videos are gauged on their success levels by the number of downloads or online views it has generated. The large success of a Tamil song called ‘Kolaveri di’ across the country is a glaring example of the success of music and good catchy content for the youth via the internet.
In India, the biggest following is for film music ( Bollywood , Tollywood etc.) so most of the channels which play music cater only to this genre. Post playing the songs or snippets of these repeatedly, they are forced to move on to older content and this again does not do much for holding the variety-seeking, “I want more of the latest” youth.
The question really is whether music as a genre on television is losing importance to the youth. The answer to this seems to be an obvious ‘Yes’. The youth have stopped differentiating between the platforms on which they view music and later listen to it. For them, it is ‘screen neutral’ viewing and it does not matter whether they are seeing it on their phones, desktops, laptops, smart phones or other touch devices. As these personal devices grow amongst the youth, the chances of them flocking to television to get their dose of music will surely reduce.
So while music videos surely stay at the forefront as one of the most watched forms of entertainment among the youth, they are getting watched across platforms, and thus, TV is losing its share of importance to this target group called youth.
Avinash Pillai, national buying director, MediaCom