Anuj Poddar, Head, Colors Marathi is a happy man. Ever since the channel’s inception (or ETV’s rebranding to Colors Marathi), it has seen an exceptional growth in its market share and exceptional interest from advertisers. Over the last one year, the channel has taken over from No 3 to a strong No 2 spot, thus heading towards leadership position. With Nissan Motors, Samsonite, Pernod Ricard India and JSW Group among others in its ad inventory, Colors Marathi has already broken even.
We spoke to Poddar about this impressive growth of the channel, its future strategy and more. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
From rebranding of ETV to Colors Marathi how has the journey been?
It’s been a phenomenal one-year journey. When we started out, we had 15 % share, Zee Marathi was at 63% and Star Pravah was at 22%. Today Zee Marathi is down to 52%; Star is down to 12%; we have grown to 36%. Our share has gone up to 2.4 times. From number three we have now moved to dominant number two. Our reach is 95 % of Zee’s reach.
If you look at slots from 7am to midnight, we have four original shows which are number one. Across the 17 hours in a day that we track, there are 34 slots and Zee Marathi is number one in 17 slots. Colors Marathi is number one in 16 slots without any big ticket non-fiction show – ‘Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati’ is from ETV days. There’s one slot where Colors and Zee are together. So there has been rock solid performance based on good content without any short term measures. The brand buzz and content has worked well for us.
As far as the marketing strategy is concerned, we come from Colors brand pedigree. There’s both an advantage and a responsibility. We managed to do that both in terms of content and how we positioned ourselves. And, it worked. Our positioning is ‘Rang Marathi Gandh Marathi.’ Culturally it’s rooted to the Marathi culture and tradition. All our stories and characters borrow deeply from that. Even in the case of dance reality show ‘Dholkichya Talavar’ we created our own format that’s based on popular Marathi form, Lavani. Moreover, distribution has been strong because of the ETV legacy and we strengthened it further.
What’s your take on the competition in the regional language space?
We are competing not just with Marathi channels in Maharashtra but also with Hindi channels and other genres too. This is because it’s a HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) market where the language has a strong presence in Maharashtra unlike in South. We have grown our shares because people have come in from Hindi channels also.
Our focus has always been to put out what we believe is good content. We want to connect to the audience as opposed to what the competition is doing.
Over the course of one year what kind of content has worked for you? Who is your target audience?
What worked for us is the complete diverse content that we are bringing to the table. We have romance, conventional dramas, mythology and comedy. Our shows like ‘Mejwaani,’ ‘Assa Saasar Surekh Baaii’ and ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya’ are slot leaders. ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya’ is our flagship show which is beyond anything that has been shown on any Marathi channel so far in terms of production value, special effects and scale.
Our target audience is the full Marathi family. As a GEC we can’t afford to be narrowly focussed and we need to make sure it’s inclusive content that’s well balanced and cuts across all ages, from rural to urban and NCCS.
In terms of age our core TG is between 30 and 35. But there are shows where I want kids coming in, for instance ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya.’ Our comedy show ‘Comedychi Bullet Train’ the humour is family-friendly.
Every weekend we have big properties like movies, events or our fiction specials. Interestingly our ratings don’t take a hit when there’s a big property on Hindi channels because we don’t back out from putting up good content. Having said that, on particular days like India-Pakistan match or T20 world cup we see an impact but not on a daily basis. If we have good content to tempt the audience they will find time to juggle both..
You have increased your ad rates last September by 30-50 per cent. With Colors Marathi going strong at No 2 are you planning to increase your ad rates again?
In April itself (new fiscal year) we will increase even more. Last fiscal year we had got 160 new clients on board. There is lot of interest from many second and third-tier brands like Oxigen, Scholl and Hector Beverages. The big brands like Reckett, Lever and Dabur are obviously there. We are not missing any category, whether it’s automobile, FMCG, durables or jewellery. E-commerce players are the ones coming forward and buying big ticket properties.
Existing clients are spending more money or allocating more inventories. We have taken an increment in the ad rates with some of the existing clients in September and January. In April we had one case where the increase in rate went as high as 110%. Our view is at 110 % increase also we are giving them a better value for money today than last year because our ratings have increased more than 100 %. In terms of share, if the client was earlier advertising with a channel which had 15 per cent share, today that channel has 36 per cent share.
What’s Marathi entertainment ad pie worth today? What can be done for it to match up to Bangla or South?
Marathi entertainment ad pie is worth Rs 450-500 crore. I think it will grow. Last year it had taken a slight step back due to BARC versus TAM ratings as a whole. That caused small readjustments between broadcasters and advertisers on rate benchmarks and ratings, which will get corrected this year. By this fiscal year, we are very clear it will grow.
What kind of marketing strategy have you adopted currently?
It’s 360 degree approach. Digitally we have done really well on social media. On Facebook we have million plus likes. We use it as a source of feedback and connection with our audiences. Our engagement scores with audience on Facebook are much higher than the current leader. That’s giving me confidence. That means both our brand and content are clicking well with the audience.
Cost wise print is most expensive followed by outdoor. We are active on radio and television as well.