MTV Unplugged has become an iconic property for us: Ferzad Palia

Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged is returning for its sixth season from January 14, 2016 at 8 pm. In a bid to increase its reach in Season 6, the show will also air on MTV’s new Bollywood music channel MTV Beats and will also be available on Viacom18’s online platform Voot. 

The artist line-up for Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged Season 6 includes AR Rahman, Badshah, Shahid Mallya, Amit Mishra, Shreya Ghoshal, Sachin-Jigar, Jubin Nautiyal, Jasleen Royal, Amit Trivedi, Benny Dayal & Neeti Mohan, Divya Kumar, and Siddharth Mahadevan. 

The last season reached out to over 34 million viewers across the country with episodes featuring artists such as Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Pritam, Sukhwinder Singh. Along with creating musical magic on air, the show also raked in a reach of over 47 million on digital platforms and a reach of over 17 million over radio. With the new season all set to roll in, MTV has lined up a whole host of 360 degree promotional activities, including radio, digital, print, cinema and brand associations for Season 6. 

Announcing the sixth season of one of the country’s biggest musical properties, Ferzad Palia, Head – Youth and English Entertainment, Viacom18, said, “Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged has carved a niche for itself by celebrating the country’s myriad music genres by giving the music a chance to be the star in the show. Unplugged music is music in its rawest form – stripped of all distractions – which makes it extremely powerful and allows the artist to truly display his or her prowess as a musician. The line-up for this season is truly fantastic and I’m confident that the viewers of MTV will be in for a total treat when they tune into one of the greatest seasons of the show with the best of the best musicians performing unplugged.” 

On partnering with MTV Unplugged for the sixth season, Raja Banerji, Assistant Vice President (Marketing), Pernod Ricard India, said, “Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged continues to tread on this successful journey to create one of the finest and most refined musical shows. This season features a perfect line-up of some of the biggest starts from Bollywood performing unplugged – music in its most pristine form. This musical extravagance brings alive the brand’s philosophy of ‘Make it Perfect’ in every way. Tune in to perfection and witness these accomplished musicians showcase their versatile repertoire only at Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged.” 

Ferzad Palia spoke with Adgully to shed more light on the growth of ‘MTV Unplugged’ over the years. 

How has growth of ‘MTV Unplugged’ been over the last five seasons?
It has grown year on year – be it the number of avenues of platforms that have been playing out the content or the amount of consumption that has happened on each platform over the years. You can now also hear it on the audio-streaming sites as well as on radio. This year, we are adding MTV Beats and Voot to our mix. Thus, the property is growing every year in terms of consumption and stature, and now we are trying to reinvent ourselves. 

What have been the viewership numbers across the five seasons?
We don’t look at viewership numbers for a property like this. What we are doing is creating content which is consumed perpetually. People are still consuming the music of Season 1, for example. In terms of overall number of eyeballs that we have seen YoY, it has grown significantly. 

What about the key growth markets and TG?
That is no one particular TG that has grown, because it is music, which is something that cuts across age groups and geographies. There is no one particular pocket or age group that consumes this kind of music. It has been consumed across the length and breadth of the country and even outside of India in a big way. 

How has ‘MTV Unplugged’ contributed to the overall growth of MTV channel?
It has been an iconic property for MTV internationally right from the early 90s, and when MTV entered India, when it was an international music channel. That’s how the property became very popular here, because there is a fantastic music industry here. We localised the property and has today become very iconic and synonymous with the MTV brand. 

What is special and different about ‘MTV Unplugged’ Season 6?
It is bigger and better this year. And I am not saying it just because it is a new season. If you look at the line-up, it is probably the biggest that we have had in all the five seasons. For the first time we have somebody like AR Rahman, who crowdsourced lyrics to recreate ‘Urvashi’. That’s a brand new attempt involving viewers and consumers of music. We also have hip-hop on ‘Unplugged’ for the first time with Badshah. So, the property is making strides and you will keep seeing more of that. 

Have any changes or additions been made in the show’s format for the latest season?
The format has been the same. However, there always will be changes in the set-up. This year, we will have a brighter set with LED screens to keep up with the technology and times. But the essence and the flavour need to remain the same for a property such as this. 

Who are the sponsors on board for Season 6?
The sponsor is Royal Stag Barrel Select. They have been an incredible partner for many years now and they continue to love this property, and the property obviously delivers very, very well for them. 

Please tell us about the promotion and marketing strategy for ‘MTV Unlugged’ Season 6. What is the marketing budget allocated?
We are using print, outdoor, and television advertising across all our networks to create awareness about the return of the property for its sixth season, and then word of mouth will take over. 

What about digital push for the show?
The show will rest on Voot, which is our digital platform. So when the repeat consumption happens, it is available there.


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