The regional markets today have become significant centres of growth for both advertisers and broadcasters alike. According to a KPMG report, regional channels accounted for approximately 26.6 percent of total television viewership in 2012. exchange4media takes a look at how big is the Marathi market in the regional space and why the ad revenues are not at par with its viewership numbers.
Marathi in the regional pie
Currently the Marathi regional space has three strong players: Star Pravah, ETV Marathi and Zee Marathi. According to Anuj Poddar, Executive Vice President and Business Head – Regional Channels, Viacom18 - In partnership with ETV, the Marathi market has lots of potential for growth. Though the Southern markets continue to lead in terms of viewership share in the regional pie, the Marathi space is a close second. There have also been significant changes in the viewer trends with a shift in the demographics as well. Earlier it was more skewed towards the older generation but there has been a shift to younger audiences as well.
Regional GECs are the most dominant within regional channels in terms of viewership share, accounting for 76 to 78 per cent of audiences in the Bengal and Marathi markets, and 65 to 70 per cent in the southern markets.
According to the KPMG report, the Marathi market accounts for around 17 per cent of the total regional viewership, while the Tamil and Telugu markets account for approximately 50 per cent (marginal decline from 52 percent in 2011), which is pegged at around 26.6 per cent of the total television viewership. The numbers showcase Marathi market as one of the steadily emerging markets after its Southern counterparts. The Bengal market forms a close third, with 12 per cent of the viewership pie.
Inconsistency in viewership and revenue numbers
Though the viewership numbers are on an all-time high, with the market gradually gaining a strong foothold in the broadcast space, the ad revenues continue to be on the lower side, according to experts. It can be observed that the advertisement market size for Marathi space is pegged at Rs 4100 million as opposed to the Tamil, Telugu and the Bengal market which is pegged at more than three times with Rs 13500 million, Rs 9000 million and Rs 7000 million respectively.
The viewership numbers are second only to Tamil and Telugu markets, but the advertising revenues are one fourth of the Tamil market. Also, though the Bengal markets attract around 12 per cent viewership numbers, it commands almost twice in terms of revenues.
Rationalising on the same, PM Balakrishna, CEO, Allied Media, commented, “There is a greater overlap of the Marathi GEC space and the Hindi GEC space in Maharashtra as compared to its Southern counterparts. Hence, though the viewership numbers might be high, brands see this market as reach builder or frequency builder.”
Also, the production costs still remain on the lower side. The cost of production for a 30-minute fiction show in the Hindi GEC space is anything between Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, while that in the Marathi space ranges from around Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. This is just 15 to 25 per cent of the amount being spent on Hindi GECs. This needs to increase in order to provide better viewing experience and quality content to viewers and give brands an opportunity to leverage on the same.
The road ahead
However, experts believe that the ad revenues are not a total fair reflection of the Marathi regional market; the Marathi market has grown by four to five per cent while the Bengali market has observed a de-growth.
Experts also share that the recent trend of adoption of Hindi GEC format shows in the regional space has worked in favour of these channels and brands. With the introduction of regional version of the format shows, channels are all set to garner advertisers through in-show product placements, sponsorship deals, etc. a recent example will be the Marathi version of KBC on ETV Marathi, which is already commanding higher ad rates.
Though various challenges still exist, the Marathi market has carved its own space in the regional space.