The Marathi general entertainment genre witnessed a lot of action during 2008, with the launch of Star Pravah and Saam TV in August and November 2008, respectively, generating further interest in the genre. Existing players like Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi, DD Sahyadri and Mi Marathi are now geared up for 2009 with new shows lined up and differentiated content to give that extra edge.
Zee Marathi continues to lead among the Marathi GECs, followed by ETV Marathi. Star Pravah, which was kicked off with its driver show ‘Raja Shivchatrapati’, occupies the No. 3 slot within six weeks of its existence. The channel managed to forge ahead of DD Sahyadri, Mi Marathi and Saam Marathi.
It may be recalled that 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. Mi Marathi was launched in the beginning of 2007.
exchange4media spoke with industry leaders to take stock of the Marthi GECs’s performance during 2009 and the expectations and the road ahead in 2009.
Going ahead with confidence
Slowdown or not, Marathi GECs are confident about better times in 2009 and are gearing up for the year ahead with new shows. Nikhil Sane, Business Head of Zee Marathi, observed, “As far as 2008 was concerned, it was undoubtedly the year of Zee Marathi. The channel continued to be the most popular channel among the television audiences in Mumbai and Maharashtra and garnered the highest GRPs ever. We lead among Marathi GECs and we have also been a clear cut leader across all genres. And this was actually because of a healthy mix of daily soaps and reality shows that we have on our channel. These shows have contributed to the channel in a big way. Reality show like ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ garnered good numbers for the channel.”
He further said, “Zee Marathi has clearly surpassed Star Plus in the overall GRPs with respect to almost all the target groups of television viewers continuously in 2008. Zee Marathi has proved its popularity and leadership in Marathi television and the TAM figures are only a reflection of the fact that despite these audiences being conversant with Hindi and Marathi, they prefer watching only quality programmes in their local language.”
He added that though the economic slowdown had affected nearly all the sectors and people, in terms of viewership, they were unaffected.
Speaking on plans for 2009, Sane said, “We are known for our differentiated content, and in future, we would be concentrating on the same. We will continue to come up with a healthy mix of soaps and reality shows in future as well.”
Likewise, Gaurav Banerjee, VP, Star Entertainment Media Pvt Ltd, asserted, “Star’s regional channel, Star Pravah, has started off with a bang in 2009. Star Pravah is doing well and our landmark show ‘Raja Shivchatrapati’ has found critical appeal and great traction among audiences.” On the plans for 2009, Banerjee said, “We have aggressive plans for Star Pravah. We will continue to launch innovative shows and formats and set quality benchmarks that redefine regional television.”
Markand Adhikari, VP & MD, Mi Marathi, remarked, “The year 2008 was actually tough for the entire economy, and that includes the media as well. Everybody is living on hope. We all hope that the year 2009 would be better for everybody. We are also planning something exclusive for 2009. We will focus on good reality programmes and events in the coming year. As far as regional channels are concerned, I think the future will be for the regional channels and a major consolidation would be expected on the regional side.”
According to Ambarnath Sinha, Channel Promotion Head of Saam Marathi, “The year 2008 was a very good year for us because Saam Marathi was born in 2008. And now, it’s time to discover new things, grow and become a success story. Our plans for 2009 are to remain confident of creating success stories, but not becoming complacent with such accomplishments. As a Group we have gone through such exercises before and I don’t presume it should be difficult to remain confident and not complacent this time as well.”
Growth drivers for 2009
Commenting on the growth drivers for 2009, Banerjee said, “The growth driver would be high quality story telling. Regional TV has to shed the image of being a ‘me too’ category. With our channel we have been very conscious that we need to create a new identity and, therefore, we have walked away from the song, dance and saas-bahu formulas. It’s not just ‘Shivaji’ but even shows like ‘Goshta’, a short series format, and ‘Asa ka Ghadale’, where we raise important social issues like female infanticide, that form a part of our content portfolio.”
Sinha noted, “Every regional channel is involved in building up their reputations. Regional channels are based on the logic of staying closer to their audience. With regional channels, the audience gets far more critical because they look ahead to greater proximity with the ideas and treatments. Certainly, the chances of building up closer relationships are high as well. The stakes are overall pretty steep, but certainly achievable. And once you make them identify themselves on-screen, they are yours.”
With so much at stake, the Marathi general entertainment is something to look out for in the year ahead.