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“We Have Brought Back Our Creative Mojo” Says Ferzad Palia

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MTV is all set to create Hip Hop Buzz in India with MTV Hustle.

The channel boasts yet again, of its exciting original youth-centric content which has helped it retain an entire generation of loyal audiences. Ferzad Palia, Head – Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18 talks about spotting trends and bringing in a new Hip Hop reality show, expected growth and retention of both advertiser’s and audiences, in conversation with Loudest.

Ferzad Palia launched an exclusive line up of shows for the quarter with MTV Hustle (a rap based reality show), Splitsvilla 12 and Ace of Space season 2, saying “We have brought back our creative mojo.

Talking about the inception behind the new show ‘MTV Hustle’ which will foster India’s hip hop culture for the first time on Indian television, Palia said, “The concept of MTV Hustle was explored three years ago as we saw the hip hop revolution coming up then. We have been thinking about how to give this genre it’s due, as over a couple of years we have come across a lot of emerging talent, but it was dropping off at a very nascent stage because there was no platform to support these artists in the mainstream. With this show, we want to create a distinct platform for the genre. With the excellent talent that comes through the show we will create original music.

Speaking on how Hip Hop as a genre is helping the industry and the channel, Ferzad says, “Hip hop has been a very comfortable space for the past few years. From an industry perspective, we are investing in creating a platform to take it to millions of people, where best of the talents will be filtered by eminent judges, who will be mentoring and give the industry the next big talent.

Talking on the format and the selection process of the show Palia says, “Amongst numerous entries, the selection narrowed down to top 15 contestants. We plan to do an approximate of 20 bi-weekly episodes, for 10 weeks starting from 10th of August. In addition, there is no set format for mentoring at least in the first season as we have noticed that such genres perform organically. The judges will guide the contestants and advise them on their potential improvements, leading to a change in an artist’s entire outlook.

MTV Hustle has a great line up of sponsors with JBL being the presenting sponsor, Philips One Blade & Breezer Vivid Live Life in Color as co-sponsors and Hike Messenger as a sticker partner, while the 12th season of Splitsvilla is co-powered by All Fruit Juice, Manforce, Denver deodorants and Vega Hair styling appliances.

On retaining advertisers for the follow-up seasons and advertising trends, Palia said, “We have advertisers who have been with us for several years. Like for MTV Roadies, we have Renault for about three years. Similarly, Droom will be in its second year on MTV Roadies, and VIVO now has come on to several properties. There are a bunch of advertisers who look at various properties at various points of time. So some believe in building a product with a property that they would want to support.

Ferzad Palia- Head,Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18

Incorporating findings from their Youth Insights reports, Palia called it the ‘secret sauce’ which touches the nerve of their content, making MTV ride high on the success of their numbers for the first half of 2019 with 700 mn views and 3.67 bn minutes of viewership across TV and VOOT.

Talking about using research on consumer behaviour which helps in effective content programming Palia points out, “One of the crucial things for us is to stay ahead of the curve and analyse the trends which are in infancy, helping us to understand where the audience is heading and fine-tune our contents, formats, hosts, judges etc accordingly.”

Talking about how investing in progressive programming and content differentiation has helped retain audiences, Palia says, “What has worked very well for all of our brands is that we’ve invested in creating that differentiation, in generating unique content and experiences. We have been very progressive with time and have eventually retained our significant base of loyal audiences, who once were the youth, today are the parents.

“We are creating awareness about causes like women Safety, Youth issues and taboos like Homophobia. For example, Homo Phobia has been eradicated now as a stigma, and so we are showing same-sex problems and even transgender issues in our shows,” added Palia.

Elaborating on how the channel see the ad revenue growth coming from hip hop as a genre, Palia said, “If we look at the sizeable chunk of the audience which is going to consume a particular kind of content, the advertiser today is smart enough to invest in that show or on that show. It’s a natural, logical progression, and we will need funds to make the property larger and bigger so that we get it to the vision we have for it.

Talking about brand activations and cross promotions for the new show MTV Hustle, he said, “I think only putting print, and digital promotions is not enough for us since we have to take a new genre to the masses. So we are planning to reach out to the heart of the people and create awareness and a buzz about Hip-Hop as a genre and also the show. We are doing a lot of on-ground promotions in malls, colleges, night clubs and cinema halls across cities.

Continuing, he said, “There is a 360-degree activation underway along with cross-promotions on all digital platforms across the Viacom18 network.”

Palia concludes the conversation tipping off to the music lovers to keep glued to the space, saying, “MTV is exploring on a lot of new properties based on music as well, so stay tuned!”.

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