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'Sony ROX HD will cater to youth in Hindi-speaking households'

Sony Pictures Networks India announces the launch of its new music channel. Neeraj Vyas, its senior EVP and business head, Hindi movies and music cluster, explains why it is pegged uniquely

Shruti Venkatesh
Published: Jan 18, 2017 10:09:45 AM IST
Updated: Jan 18, 2017 03:52:25 PM IST

'Sony ROX HD will cater to youth in Hindi-speaking households'
Neeraj Vyas,Senior EVP and Business Head, Hindi Movies and Music Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India

Earlier this week, five years after its foray into the music genre with Sony Mix (in September 2011), Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) announced the launch of a youth-focussed music channel, Sony ROX HD. The premium HD Hindi music channel offers 100 percent Dolby Audio content and is available across leading direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable platforms such as TATA Sky, Fastway, In Cable and UCN.  Neeraj Vyas, senior EVP and business head, Hindi movies and music cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India, spoke to Forbes India about the idea behind the launch, programming for the channel and its business model. Edited excerpts:

Q. At a time when viewers are increasingly moving to a smaller screen – mobiles – is there a risk in launching an HD music channel
Not at all. We have this model that helps us understand music in the form of the ‘Lifecycle of a Song’. This lifecycle has four stages – Discovery, Like, Love & Own. Given the fact that a large chunk of music in India is film music (audio-visual), it relies on TV (the largest penetrated media platform and audio-visual) to gain popularity. Essentially, songs first break on television. Subsequent to the discovery stage, channels like ours sort out the good music and play that more often, thereby playing a crucial role in creating the ‘Like’ phase for a song. Then basis the merit of the song’s musical quotient, it graduates to the ‘Love’ stage for the listener who at this point loves the song and wants to ‘Own’ it. It is somewhere in the ‘Love’ and entirely in the ‘Own’ stage that the small screen and online platforms come in. The first and second stages of the lifecycle of the song are entirely secure with channels like MIX & ROX HD, which invest in the essence of music – the music factor.

Q. What prompted you to launch a second Hindi music channel, considering the fact that Sony Mix is already doing well? Could it cannibalise your own channel?

In today’s day and age, the demand for music on standard definition (SD) platforms is largely from the era of the 1990s to 2000s. Contemporary music i.e. music from the last 10 years, which serves the interest of its core audience – the youth – does not have a well invested  Hi-Definition platform the way we imagine Sony ROX HD to be. And that is why well-curated music… takes the experience to a metaphorical ‘high’. Therefore, the tagline – Sony ROX HD – Music. Melody Madhoshi. This channel will cater to all youth in HSM (Hindi-speaking markets) households.

Q. Would the business model for Sony ROX HD be different from Sony Mix? Also, would the ad rates be higher?
Yes. Both channels are pegged very uniquely. Each has its differentiated objective carved out. This reflects in the target audience, music acquisition, platforms and therefore their business models. And yes, ad rates would be higher primarily since Sony ROX HD is a premium offering.

Q. What is the total investment for the new channel?
This information is commercially confidential.  

Q. When it comes to revenue generation, do HD channels perform better than the non-HD counterparts?
The HD environment over the last two years has started seeing a lot of traction owing to the digitisation push and HD TV penetration. But, for HD to overtake SD on revenue generation, the reach of the HD platform has to grow much more than its current numbers.

Q. Which are the genres of music that will be showcased on the channel? Also, in terms of programming, will it be purely music or will it be a mix of shows and music?
Hindi film music will be the core programming on Sony ROX HD. However, there are a lot of interstitial programming initiatives that the channel is offering and will keep offering. Some of the initiatives currently are ROX School of Music – The ABC to Z of making music, ROX Recommends – Trending songs of the week, Gigs in your town – Musical events around the six metros in India, ROX-Star – Star profiles and ROX Original Artiste of the Month – New indie artiste every month.

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