ETV Gujarati will announce its repositioning and revamping on November 3. Part of this revamp will include a line-up of six new shows that range from light-hearted drama, satire, comedy to a unique reality gaming show. “More than revamping, it is more like launching Gujarat’s first-ever complete entertainment channel which is for the Gujaratis by the Gujaratis and completely in Gujarati,” said Anuj Poddar, EVP, Viacom 18 and Business Head, ETV Gujarati.
The move comes after the channel got programming space when a separate ETV Gujarati News channel was created in June this year. The new tagline for the channel is ‘Dil Thi Gujarati’ which translates into ‘Gujarati from the heart’ and the channel hopes to mirror the essence of the fun-loving Gujarati community through its six new shows – Patithayo Pati Gayo, 1760 Sasumaa, Aa Family Comedy Che, Kanho Banyo Common Man and Hirjini Marji. They will play during the prime time slot of 7-10 pm. The channel will also continue with its popular cooking shows Rasoi and Flavours of Gujarat, as food is a significant part of the community, says Poddar.
“Earlier, all channels offered a combination of news and entertainment. This is the first one positioned as a purely entertainment channel. It is content and faces that Gujaratis identify with, and do not get anywhere else on TV. A Hindi channel can’t really serve them this kind of content that is as Gujarati, and something with so much variety in flavour,” said Poddar.
Regarding the viewership base, Poddar said he was surprised to learn that the channel’s viewers are also in Mumbai and in the US, wherever there are Gujaratis. Even then, the marketing will be Gujarat-centric because according to Poddar the tight-knit Gujarati families will ensure word-of-mouth spread of any campaign launched in the state.
The channel’s marketing plan involves a 360-degree campaign with TV, radio, cinema, cable, digital, outdoor and ground activations across all major cities in Gujarat. The campaign that will run for about two weeks, will also see intensive activation across billboards, bus panels and auto rickshaws across the state.
The challenge, says Poddar, is in creating a market for entertainment television, unlike in the Marathi domain, where a space already exists. “The challenge or objectives as a pioneer are very different from the challenges that I have in Marathi. Right from the talent to the content that we source, is on a clean slate and there is no existing prototype. The positioning of this channel is very different as my competition is, in a way Hindi, where we are the underdogs, as we cannot compete on the same scale or level of investment obviously. So we have to position ourselves very differently – as this light-hearted, humorous, entertainment channel, unlike any other channel in the domain,” he added.
Further, on competing with Hindi channels, Poddar said the only way is to offer a good quality product and enough content. The second way, he said, is to establish an emotional connect with the Gujarati viewers so that they prefer something like this to Hindi channels.
In terms of the investment that has gone into the revamping of the channel, Poddar said, “In ETV Gujarati the investment is much higher than what the Gujarati television industry has ever seen, but it is not obviously at the level of our Marathi channel. With Marathi our challenge was very different, so I had to dig in with a something like a (Kon Hoeel Marathi) Crorepati to shake the market because the market can absorb that. I don’t think the Gujarati market today can absorb something of that nature. So I will not be doing, at least in the short term, big bets like a very expensive non-fiction show in this market. But I also believe there is no need for such a gamble; viewers can go to Hindi channels for such content.”
In two-three years Poddar hopes the channel will prove to be a strong alternative to the Hindi channels in Gujarat. The channel also plans to target premium brands that usually do not advertise on regional channels, with the lure of viewers from affluent Gujarati community that are expected to get on to the channel.
‘ETV Gujarati’ has partnered with top production houses including Sango Telefilms (Aa Family Comedy Che), Interscope Communications (Daily Bonus), Click Digital Studios India Private Limited and Vrajesh Hirjee (Hirji Ni Marji), Meenaa Gheewaala Telefilms (1760 Sasuma), We Workshop Entertainment (Pati Thayo Pati Gayo) and Entity Productions (Kanho Banyo Common Man).