Interview: It is not Television vs OTT but how both can coexist, says Hashim Dsouza, Vh1, Viacom18

Hashmi Dsouza Vh1 Viacom18

In an exclusive conversation with Media Samosa, Hashim Dsouza sheds light on the programming strategy of Vh1, the latest marketing initiatives & growing viewership during lockdown with feel-good content on the channel.

We get into a conversation with Hashim Dsouza, Head of Programming, English Entertainment, Vh1, Viacom18 to understand this further how the brand built on its proposition of feel good content during the lockdown & what tactics have worked well.

Edited Excerpts:

Please take us through the Content strategy for the channel during these times. 

We are a platform for the discovery of new music and new sounds, and we attempt to keep our viewers engaged with our differentiated programming. Hence, we decided to update the same in the lockdown and introduce properties and ideas that our viewers could connect with.

In the beginning of the lockdown, we launched a multi-platform property called Vh1 Quarantunes. For World Music Day, we aired a 5 and a half day-long playlist called Vh1 2020 Tunes for 2020. The thought behind both these properties came from music being the best mood lifter and us wanting to give our viewers something to feel good about in these trying times.

What has been the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the ratings & viewership for the shows on the channel?

As India’s premier International Music and Entertainment Channel, over the last few months, Vh1 has continued to be sampled by 1 crore + viewers week on week.

Our viewership has grown multifold since the lockdown, with Vh1 hitting its highest viewership in the last 3 years.

Our viewership numbers at times are even higher than the entire EGEC genre combined. Vh1 Quarantunes, launched during the lockdown has become our highest-rated property – 3x higher than the top EGEC shows with a record-breaking reach of 20 MN+.

At a time when consumers are spoilt for choices in terms of exploring content even in music genres, which are the shows that are aired during prime time for the channel? Which are the top shows for Vh1?

Our specialty lies in our curated music properties relevant to current needs/trends like Vh1 Quarantunes and Vh1 2020 Tunes launched specifically during the lockdown period, both of which have gone on to be top shows for the brand.

During these trying times, where the concept of a traditional prime time has been broken, people come to us for feel good, familiar music, which is essential to uplift people’s moods and largely to discover new music.

We are happy to be like a friendly, dependable platform to provide that familiar, comfortable place for our viewers.

Also read: With production halted, everyone will face a vacuum in content: Ashish…

Do you think Television will sustain despite the growing popularity of OTT platforms? What is it in Television over OTT that can reap benefits for the broadcasters?

If current trends are any indication, Television will definitely sustain the challenge of OTTs. It is not television vs OTT but rather how both can coexist and complement each other.

Our strength lies in curating/handpicking the content that viewers want to or should be watching. In a time when there are so many options and it is so easy for viewers to get overwhelmed; curation is very essential. We do the hard job of seeding out the missable to leave our consumers with a selection of the must-watch content.

Please share the top 3 trends you foresee in the Indian television space for 2020.

  • Building emotional connections with users is very important for television channels. Brands need to engage more with their audiences to make the whole TV experience more meaningful to them.
  • TV channels will have to synergize with new technology to deliver better experiences to the viewers.
  • Innovative partnerships and alliances will also play a key role. Our partnerships will be more important than ever and how we choose to innovate and collaborate with them in the future, will be an important factor.

Road to Recovery and the way forward for your channel? How do you see the industry shaping up in the post-COVID-19 world?

While the pandemic has proved to be a game-changer for most of us, we chose to adapt to this ‘new normal’ by making the required changes to our business functions and channel operations.

As far as Vh1 is concerned, we haven’t been as badly affected since our usual content flow of new music videos has been uninterrupted. As for the industry, it is time to reset and innovate on ways to proceed creatively. Most brands have started bringing in new virtual experiences and have been adapting and trying out new formats. While it might take a while to figure things out, it is time for everyone to push boundaries and explore new options.

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Aishwarrya Chakraverty
A storyteller and a narrator by heart, vocalist by genes and a thesaurus-bee. Also, an explorer, traveler, and trekker, Aishwarrya has myriads of interests with love for music and movies. Writing is not just a hobby but her first love with a Facebook page on perspectives, channelizing the passion. Got her research paper published with IGI Global US on music. A maverick by nature and a feminist by choice, to challenge stereotypes.

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