The Marathi general entertainment channel (GEC) genre has been witnessing some action of late. The existing players include Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi, DD Sahyadri, Mi Marathi, and Saam Marathi. Star India is set to launch its Marathi GEC, Star Pravah, next month with their driver show ‘Raja Shivchhatrapati’.
DD Sahyadri was launched in 1998, while Zee Marathi was launched a year later in 1999. ETV Marathi, Tara Marathi and Prabhat channels were launched in the 2001-02 period. While Tara Marathi and Prabhat have long since closed shop, Zee Marathi and ETV Marathi are still going strong.
According to TAM Media Research data for week 35 to week 42 in the CS 4+ in Maharashtra, Zee Marathi leads among Marathi GECs. ETV Marathi is ranked No. 2, followed by DD Sahyadri at No. 3, Mi Marathi at No. 4 and Saam Marathi, which was launched in August 2008, at No. 5.
Commenting on Saam Marathi’s performance, its Channel Promotion Head, Ambernath Sinha, said, “It is still early days for Saam Marathi. I admit that there have been some hiccups, but we believe that slowly and steadily we will definitely grow in terms of content as well as ratings. Very soon we will have innovative and interactive programmes to strengthen the channel further and I am sure we will then be able to grab more market share. We have a strong content and marketing team to support the same and are working very hard to achieve our goals.”
Quality content the key
Quite a bit of excitement has been generated by the news of Star Pravah’s launch in mid-November. According to media planners, the launch of yet another channel in the Marathi GC genre will not lead to clutter as there is room for more. However, they stressed that quality content was the key to the survival and performance of the channels.
Maharashtra has been a priority market in any media plan, hence GECs have been giving considerable importance to this market.
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, India – West, Starcom Worldwide, observed, “I think, while there are many channels in this space, the quality of content still remains quite poor. Also, in terms of reception and distribution, they might be lacking to some extent. That’s the reason why it is only Zee Marathi that gets a lion’s share of viewership while the others are languishing behind. I do believe there is still a lot of space for quality content, and a new channel which can provide that to the audiences can succeed. Hence, there seems to be a market for more regional channels, but with quality content.”
He added, “Marathi channels have a fairly high share of viewership and can deliver good numbers in terms of GRPs and reach.”
On the competition amongst the Marathi GECs, he said, “With good quality programming content, it might be relatively easy for a new channel to overtake ETV Marathi as the No. 2 player. But it will be a tough task to get close to Zee Marathi since they have quite a few well-entrenched programmes, which include fiction as well as reality shows, and also a decent fan following for their stars and anchors.”
According to Rajneesh Chaturvedi, National Director - India, MEC Access, “There is a lot of space in the Marathi GEC segment and we can have more regional channels in the segment. The Maharashtra market can support and sustain another Marathi GEC.”
On how important Marathi GECs were in a media plan, Chaturvedi said, “It helps in targeting those brands for which Maharashtra is a targeted market, and there are quite a few brands for which Maharashtra is a market. In that case, they will always prefer Marathi GECs to reach out to the targeted audiences.”
On competition amongst channels, he said that competition always helped in improving the content of the channels.