Youth channels: Still to arrive

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | July 19, 2007
Marketers and broadcasters are desperately trying to capture the youth. As a result, we have seen large broadcasters launching dedicated channels for this community. How successful will they be?

Youth is & #BANNER1 & # the most sought after community of consumers. Advertisers and television broadcasters are making desperate attempts to nab them. Of course, this isn't new. In the past, the leading television brands of the country, be it STAR or Sony Entertainment Television, have tried their luck with second channels such as STAR One and SAB, respectively. But success has eluded them. Both channels have returned to GEC programming.

Now joining the bandwagon is Zee Network with ZeeNext, and UTV with Bindass, both of which were announced on Wednesday.

While ZeeNext will be launched in the next four months, UTV's Bindass is slated to go on air by next month. The brand proposition for Bindass, a Hindi channel targeted at youth in the age group of 15-34 years, is the celebration of being young, fun, fearless, frank and valuing freedom in all its forms.

According to UTV, the 15-34 age group constitutes 72 per cent of India's population and forms 42 per cent of the TV viewership. The television company got Synovate to do syndicated research, and the findings indicated that this segment of viewers is highly dissatisfied with the content available on television. They are not interested in watching soaps or gadget shows or music or even VJ shows. Instead, they were found spending time on something unexpected - cartoons and kids' shows.

The programming strategy for Bindass has been designed keeping in mind these viewership patterns. The channel promises to have shows in a variety of genres - comedy, action, thriller, horror and sports. The programming will also include 100 international movies dubbed into Hindi, a strategy that has also been adopted by other channels.

However, industry observers feel that it may take another two or three years for the youth channels to take off in the market.

Rajni Menon, investment director, MediaCom, remarks that the only formula that TV has cracked is to capture the female audience. Although various youth channels have come up, they haven't really gained popularity. The reason, she says, is that the youth spend less time on TV and have a wider range of entertainment options, such as hanging out with friends, movies, pubs and the Internet. Among all this, TV viewing becomes passive.

Chandradeep Mitra, president, OMS, says that the biggest hindrance for youth channels in the country is single TV homes, and as long as this continues, youth channels will always be niche. But he is hopeful that as the Indian youth become more independent financially, Indian households will graduate to multiple television sets.

Commenting on the type of programming on youth channels, Mitra of OMS says that music and sports are two popular genres, but they are already covered by other channels.

In fact, he is of the opinion that to engage the youth, one needs romance and reality shows. He also stresses the importance of interactivity. Interactivity should include activities to directly involve the youth at the ground level through SMS promotions, merchandising, road shows, viral marketing, contests and the Internet.

Divya Radhakrishnan, senior vice-president, TME, would advise youth channels to schedule their prime time content between 4 and 9 pm, so that they do not clash directly with the GECs. She also believes that the mantra for success for a youth channel is constant innovation and reinvention of programming as the youth will not bear with a 100-episode sitcom.

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