Femi Ogundoro, the founder and CEO of Maxima Media Group – owners of Views channel – has revealed the success of his TV station barely two years after kicking off. Ogundoro, who became famous for hosting a music show on TV, revealed that catering for the millennials is the secret of his TV channels’ success in an exclusive chat with ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, GBENGA BADA.
YOU recently celebrated two years since you launched Views Channel on cable TV, how has the journey been so far?
Looking at Views Channel today, and how far we’ve come, there’s so much to be grateful for. I thank God constantly that I took the plunge to launch the platform. Our journey has been quite an interesting one. The idea for Views Channel came to me in passing about eleven years ago, sometime in 2009, and I instantly dismissed it. At the time, I was the producer on a major TV project in Abuja which was syndicating, so I knew all too well how much work running a TV platform involved; not to talk of a 24-hour one. I remember mentioning it to a friend who was me at the time, and he felt it would be a great idea, but I felt it would be too much trouble.
Somehow, in 2010, I found myself in conversations around the issue again and my inner voice was like ‘Why not?’ My head and the practical businessman side fielded the Why nots with several reasons not to. At that point, I was just like, you know what, if I have to do it, the safe thing would be winging it at my own pace, i.e produce about twenty shows and move on. I’ve always played in the media space, and one of the other brands, Maxima Productions was thriving. In 2018, the thought came to me again, more pressing than before. I called some trusted associates, brilliant business strategists, into a meeting and ran the idea by them. They gave their projections and the verdict was not to go for it. Their reasons were plausible, but I didn’t run with it. I began to set the wheels into motion and like the biblical Noah building the ark, I heard all sorts. Do you really understand what’s involved? Would you be able to keep up? It won’t be viable if you’re not on X platform. Can you keep up with quality? August 1, 2018, Views Channel was born and today we are here, two years strong. The road to success is fraught with challenges and we were not without ours. We had no external support about a month into the journey, we scored our first brand. It was with a major telecoms brand who said they were ready to grow with us.
After that, we had more brands come on board which was proof of commercial viability and acceptance of our content. And TV is really all about content; getting and creating good content requires money: from procuring the right equipment, employing the right caliber of staff and so on. Between our first year anniversary and now, we’ve celebrated even more milestones one of which was an award from Business Day that recognized us as one of the Top Hundred Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria. We’ve partnered with a top foreign brand – DW. So in not so many words, how has the journey been? The journey has been great!
What really sets Views Channel apart from other TV platforms in Nigeria?
Every one offering a service has their target market. On TV, we deal with target audiences and your audience range is determined by your content genres. You have to be known for something- news, entertainment, education, drama. For us, our target audience informs our content range. Views Channels primarily targets the millenials – which account for 60% of our population. Looking at the African continent as well, 77 per cent of the overall populace is made up of millenials and Gen Zs. I feel like majority of content found on TV, particularly by traditional media does take this into account. And so what happens is that the millenials are happy to own the digital space and create their own content and conversations which is ever-evolving. So what we do is bridge the gap between traditional TV and the digital space. Do we know where we’re going? Yes! Are we there yet? No! Juxtaposing between our first year and all, you’d think we’d have been bowled over by everything that has hit the world this 2020, or that we’d have been unable to meet up with beginning of the year goals. That has not been our case. One of the things we set out to do this year was to do more live shows weekly. I’m proud to say we now broadcast over 10 hours of live content weekly. One of these live shows was even birthed in the heat of the pandemic. We have a couple of great shows under our belt, and we try to see that these get to our target audiences wherever they can be found. Se we could say it’s something of a simulcast where we’re streaming shows on different platforms simultaneously. Just last month, our reports reflected over 10 million impressions – organic. That’s something.
We’ve also been able to get a strategic partnership with XOD Global. These guys are a global media and entertainment company who have been in this game for years. They run between 13-15 channels in Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, which will also be a VOD (Video on Demand) platform in Europe and America and the US. Our contract with them means Views Channels will be running on those platforms too. So we’re definitely working on also spreading our tentacles beyond Star Times. A year ago, we were only on Star Times, but right now, we’re well positioned to be on mobile devices via the SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand). So we’re definitely different, and doing things differently.
In terms of content, what would you say you did differently to garner these supports?
I wouldn’t go into fine details because these are in-house strategies. But I’d just reinforce what I said earlier. In providing content, we don’t just jump on the bandwagon and churn out the type of content everyone else is doing, what we do is provide our audiences with their content of choice; content created with them, by them and for them. If you switch on the TV sets right now, you’d see that a bulk of the known TV stations feature spokespersons between the ages of 45 to 50. Whenever there is any matter arising, the guys speaking about it are not young people. Does this mean millenials are stupid? Of course not. And when these older people are speaking, many times, the tendencies are they project their standards or beliefs, which most times don’t resonate with the millenials.
So to millenials, it’s like white noise, which they jump and pass, JAP if you prefer, because they’re simply not interested. So there are too many reasons why these guys just feel, ‘we want it our way.’ One of the approaches to connecting with them is to first identify with them, and then gradually show them that some of the things that they want to do might be wrong. What you can’t do is force your truths down their throats. They form the core of everything we do. And while we’re crafting content for them, we’re also trying to see this content doubly aligns with specific target market of clients, thus ensuring commercial viability from ideation stage. Any brand would be happy to jump on a show that impacts lives while putting them in the faces of their target markets. It all sounds easy, but know one thing – our audience, the millennials, are a unique bunch. Once you understand them, you’re one step closer to creating good content for them. They don’t want to miss out on anything, they clamor for relevance, they’re rebellious, savage, they can’t be boxed, resourceful, they feel misunderstood, they can be fickle, and they want relatable content. So to cater to them, we work with data. For example, Millennial reports clearly state that a lot of young people watch more Nollywood content these days. Few years ago, they were more music-inclined. I mean, look at Korean movies, few years ago, who would have sat down to watch them? But a lot of young Nigerians are into K-dramas, and they go on social media to talk about them. You’ve just got to keep up with them, and be ready to evolve and adapt to changing norms.
Two years after, are there some innovations in the works?
Most definitely. The platform will continue to innovate and evolve. We have Maxima Media Group, the holding company which assists with funding the platform for now, until Views Channel can completely stand on its own. Views Channel, alongside four other brands, fall under it. Each brand does different things. The facemask we’re all wearing for example is from one of these brands. We produced it point-to-point. We also have an agency that works with multinationals. Recently, we’ve had two private equity companies walk up to us and say they want to invest because they find what we’re doing to be interesting. I don’t have any issues with this. We reserve the rights to decide if we want to explore that option and who to go with.
So far, we have a team that is holding fort and keeping things together while also pushing to do more. It’s a moving train. Some talents have left us, and we’ve had more join us. We have people that have been working with us for five, six, ten years. What is important to us is that people working with the brand understand the vision and are ready to run with it. Once this is established, we can grow together. But if you don’t, it will be a mutually frustrating liaison. For us, with the way we are structured, we are not scared, we are quite excited about the future.