Alpha Marathi trains its guns on Hindi channels

MUMBAI: At a time when its Hindi counterparts are devoting more night-slots for primetime shows, Zee Network's Marathi channel Alpha Marathi doesn't want to be left behind. In an attempt to wrest Marathi viewers from Hindi channels, the channel has extended its primetime with a daily soap and news fare.

Alpha Marathi has launched a daily soap Adhuri Ek Kahani for the 10 pm slot. The channel has pushed its 10 pm's half-an-hour news bulletin to 10:30 pm and its duration has been increased by 30 minutes. The daily political satire Ghadalay Bhigadalay at 10:30 pm will now make its appearance as a weekly on Sundays at 12 pm with a repeat on Tuesdays.

"Primetime should be the time when you have your viewers. So following that theory, we have now expanded our primetime to 11:30 pm," offers Alpha Marathi senior VP programming Nitin Vaidya.

Vaidya is making his intentions clear. "The attempt is to make a dent on Hindi channels' Marathi speaking primetime viewership. Any region which offers Marathi viewership is our target. The whole attempt is to divert the Marathi viewership from Hindi channels, " he says. "Entertainment programmes are very crucial in the night-slots. The game plan is to bring the Marathi viewer entertaining shows throughout this time segment so that he wouldn't need to switch to Hindi channels. So we have now dedicated the 10 pm slot to an entertainment property."

For the new show Adhuri AK Kahani, Alpha Marathi has roped in many of the reputed Hindi serial artists who are Maharashtrians. According to Vaidya, the strategy is to capitalise on the regional factor and thereby giving competition to Hindi soaps even star cast-wise.

The channel has kicked off an aggressive promotional campaign for Adhuri Ek Kahani. Apart from an outdoor campaign which has put up 50 hoardings across six markets in Maharashtra, the channel has been conducting on-ground activities to promote the show across Maharashtra. The below-the-line activities included hydraulic vans travelling across the state promoting the show, entertaining the audience with songs, plays and puppet shows and installing reminder boxes.

"The effort was to make the customer involved to the maximum. All these methods were used to build up a pre-release hype. Now post-launch of the show, we will be coming up with more activities," informs Zee Network senior marketing manager Pranita S Loke.

According to Vaidya, Alpha Marathi will be launching its 10:30 news bulletin in a week's time. Since the duration is increased by 30 minutes, the channel is planning to add more features to the news bulletin. Live interactive sessions with newsmakers and a section on crime are some of the new features being planned.

The channel is converting its daily political satire Ghadalay Bhigadalay to a weekly show now. "When we launched the show in December 2003, the decision was to run the show till Maharashtra assembly elections as a daily and post-elections as a weekly. We are going ahead with our plans," says Vaidya.

The channel launched a daily interactive game show Home Minister in August-end to lure the `D' class segment. The 7:30 pm show is targeted at housewives.

"During our annual conference last year, it was revealed that we have not been getting our due share from the `D 'class segment. So we have come up with this new show, which offers a lot of attractive prizes. Slowly we are consolidating," says Loke.

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