Television

Marathi GEC space: Zee Marathi winner in numbers game

First the good news. The Marathi general entertainment space is expanding. The market is currently estimated to be above Rs 2 billion for 2007-2008. Now the bad news (for the current players). New entrants are eying a share of the pie.

At present, there are just four players in the space - Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi, Sri Adhikari Brothers Mi Marathi and public broadcaster DD Sahyadri.

A point of note is that apart from GEC, Marathi broadcast arena also includes three players in news - Star Majha, Zee 24 Taas and new entrant IBN-Lokmat. Additionally, there is Zee Talkies which enjoys a monopoly of being the only Marathi movie channel.

Backgrounder:

In the first phase of launches in this space there was DD Sahyadri, Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi, Tara Marathi and Prabhat.

DD Sahyadri was launched in 1998 followed by Zee Marathi in 1999. Later ETV Marathi, Tara and Prabhat joined the arena between 2001-02.

By 2003, Tara Marathi and Prabhat channels had gone off air.

In 2007, Mi Marathi entered the fray.

Position as of now:

In the fiscal 2007-2008, If we check the Tam data for Maharashtra market in cable and satellite homes (4+ TG, 1st April 2007 to 29 March 2008), it has clearly been a two-horse race between Zee Marathi and ETV Marathi, as 1st and 2nd respectively. Though ETV Marathi got the better of the ratings in the period June-August 2007, it started losing ground after that and Zee Marathi emerges the clerar winner in the numbers game. (See the table).

Channel share %
  Zee Marathi ETV Marathi DD10 Sahyadri (Marathi) MI Marathi
Apr ‘07 51 28 13 8
May ‘07 45 39 9 6
Jun ‘07 41 41 12 6
Jul ‘07 39 43 13 5
Aug-07 41 43 12 5
Sep-07 44 39 12 5
Oct-07 52 36 8 4
Nov ‘07 45 38 11 6
Dec-07 48 35 11 6
Jan ‘08 51 32 11 7
Feb ‘08 51 32 12 6
Mar-08 48 33 12 6
Source TAM:- Market: Maharashtra Mkt TG: CS 4+ years Period: 1 April 2007 to 29 March 2008

ETV chief producer Manvi admits, "We were on top from June till August in 2007. However, because of some connectivity and distribution issues we have fallen behind. Zee Marathi is doing well and it is not easy, but we are trying hard, to regain the lost position."

Among the other players, DD Sahyadri is maintaining its channel share of 12 in the market. However, also ran MI Marathi has not shown any growth and is stuck with an average channel share of 5. MI Marathi, despite having 3,000 hours of content and boasting of strong brand value among Marathi people, has not managed to get significant viewer eyeballs.

All year performance:

Zee Marathi is leading in this market with an average of almost 46 per cent channel share. At the beginning of April, it was holding 51 per cent market share, but slid after that to a low of 39 per cent in July, wherein ETV surged ahead. On the back of movies, reality and soaps, Zee Marathi had regained its lead position by September and has remained close to an average of 48 per cent ever since. ETV Marathi, meanwhile, has a channel share of 33 in March 2008. The average channel share of ETV Marathi is around 37 for the fiscal 07-08.

DD Sahiyadri had average channel share of 11 for the whole year. While 6 per cent went to MI Marathi.

Content:

So what is it that clicks with the viewer? Is it a feature film, reality show, or fiction based daily soap?

From Tam top 100 programmes for the period under review, Marathi feature film Subh Mangal Savadhan has got the highest TRP of 7.85 on Zee Marathi in April. Second and third were reality shows based on comedy (Hasyasamrat) and dance (Eka Pekshya Ek). Event show Swartarang was fourth while ETV Marathi serial Hya Gojirvaanya Gharat made it to fifth in the Top 5.

Data from the month of march depicts that apart from dance reality show Eka Pekshya Ek, soaps from Zee Marathi like Avghachi Sansaar and Vahini Saheb are also getting an average rating of 5 and 4 respectively in the All Maharashtra Market.

Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd (ZEEL) director (Zee regional channels) Nitin Vaidya told Indiantelevision.com, "Zee Marathi is offering viewers variety with quality and continuity. Viewers are very smart and demanding, so we are offering them a mix of reality and fiction. This explains why we are on top."

Talking about content, here it is interesting to note that Marathi soaps do not focus on so much on saas-bahu tussles and kitchen politics like Hindi GECs.

"Maharashtra is a state of progressive minded people. They don‘t like the typical Hindi saas-bahu sagas. Viewers can see completely different programming on Zee Marathi," explains Zee TV programming head (till recently Zee Marathi VP) Ajay Bhalwankar.

That makes sense. But are daily soaps or reality shows the ticket to success? Bhalwankar says, "For Zee Marathi both the genres are working.

For ETV Marathi however, it is the soaps that are working. Its soaps Char Diwas Sasuche, Hya Gojirvaanya Gharat and Kata Rute Kunala are getting decent TRPs of 4, 3.3 and 2.6 respectively.

But to be on top, Manvi believes that his channel will have to ramp up its reality quotient. "Reality shows are in. Audiences like to watch dance and music shows rather than fiction. So we are putting emphasise in this genre."

Will reality help ETV turn the tide in its favour? Time will tell.

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