The Maharashtra market is witnessing an intense battle between media conglomerates Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and STAR India. Two genres that score high with the local audience of this market are news and general entertainment channel. As Sudha Natrajan, Joint President, Lintas Media Group, put it, Maharashtra contributed 15-20 per cent to the sales of all big advertisers in the country across industries and sectors. “One cannot think of a media plan without Maharashtra,” she added.
ZEEL is one of the few media houses that already have a presence in both the genres. While Star Majha is leading in the news genre, in the GEC space, Zee rules with Zee Marathi. Star would be competing in this market beginning November 24 with the launch of its GEC, Star Pravah. As of now, the existing players in the Marathi news genre include Star Majha, Zee 24 Taas and IBN Lokmat, whereas the GECs include Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi, DD Sahyadri, Mi Marathi, and Saam Marathi.
Both Zee 24 Taas and Star Majha were launched in 2007. IBN Lokmat joined the two much later in April 2008. According to recent TAM Media Research data for the target CS 15+ in the Maharashtra market, Star Majha leads among Marathi news channels; Zee 24 Taas follows; and IBN Lokmat takes the last slot.
Bhushan Khot, Business Head, Zee 24 Taas, explained, “In Mumbai, Zee 24 Taas is a strong contender for the No. 1 position. Today, Zee 24 Taas reaches more than 6.5 million viewers across Maharashtra. We have been clear leaders on time spent on a channel, and we do lead in towns lesser than million as well as Mumbai market on various occasions.” Sibling channel, Zee Marathi, brings its own set of advantages to Zee 24 Taas. Khot said, “Zee Marathi, being the lead player in Marathi GEC, is a great help to our channel. We regularly use it for our tactical campaigns as well as to promote our events and activation.”
JC Giri, EVP, Star Entertainment Media Pvt Ltd (SEMPL) added, “We are late when compared to other players who have been there, but not from a market perspective. Regional markets like Bengal and Maharashtra are evolving, and both advertisers and viewers see this as a suitable alternative in the GEC space. The market slowdown has just happened, but these are scheduled plans, and we are confident of the product to make a difference in the market place.”
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, India – West, Starcom Worldwide, explained, “When it comes to the Marathi market, the two genres that work are TV and print. Zee Marathi and the other Marathi channels can deliver decent numbers, but are not adequate on their own. Newspapers such as Sakaal and Lokmat are strong vehicles in the state.”
Citing some more data, LMG’s Sudha Natrajan said, “Zee Marathi and ETV Marathi together have 14 per cent share of the Marathi TV market in terms of viewership. The requirement of ETV Marathi increases when you consider rest of Maharashtra as priority as against a Mumbai-focused plan. Zee Talkies, the movie channel with a strong library, performs better than Mi Marathi and Saam (Sakaal’s GEC) put together. The performance of Star Majha and Zee Talkies indicate that news and movie channels do have a place in a market dominated by GECs, depending on the content.”
Imran Karim, Media Director, TME, observed, “When we think about targeting Maharashtra, media shows two different patterns. In television, it is dominated by Zee Marathi in satellite and DD Sahyadri in non-cable and satellite. These are the two channels that come in the consideration set while taking media plans. Among dailies, it is very region specific. In Mumbai it is Loksatta and Maharashtra Times; in western Maharashtra it is Sakaal and Pudhari; and in rest of Maharashtra it is Lokmat, plus some region specific dailies.”