ETV aims to create a market with Gujaratis’ desire for comedy content

MUMBAI: Comedy is intrinsic to a Gujarati household. What they have till now been eating from the Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) will now be served to them with a new revamped ETV Gujarati with six new shows, starting 3 November.

With the tagline ‘Dilthi Gujarati’, the regional channel is now rising from the ashes. Tapping into the Gujarati euphoria that is surrounding the new Gujarati Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the family focused, female driven channel is gearing up to be Gujarati’s ‘real entertainment channel’ in a market which doesn’t have another entertainment channel.

Viacom18 EVP and business head- ETV Gujarati and ETV Marathi Anuj Poddar says that the channel had been weakly positioned till now. “Our research showed us that the people there are not interested in high drama but about fun and comedy.” The channel has put in nearly six months of hard work to come up with the brand slate of programmes.

The new shows include Pati thayo Pati Gayo (We Workshop Entertainment), 1760 Sasumaa (Meena Gheewala Telefilms), Aa Family Comedy Che (Sango Telefilms), Kanho Banyo Common Man (Entity Productions), Hirjini Marji (Click Digital Studios India and Vrajesh Hirjee) and Daily Bonus (a game show by Interscope Communications) from 7 pm to 10 pm. Popular names such as Ketaki Dave, Vrajesh Hirjee, Krishna Gokani and Sanjay Goradia will be seen on ETV Gujarati.

Talking about this fresh line-up, ETV Gujarati programming head Sanjay Upadhyay says, “We have partnered with industry heavyweights to showcase a lineup that is contemporary, fresh and appeal to all who are ‘dilthi Gujarati’.”

The fiction team in Mumbai and non- fiction team in Ahmedabad has conceptualised the new look. The two cookery shows have been retained, one in the afternoon and one early primetime due to their popularity. Although Poddar is sure that the high production quality of the shows will bring in audiences. He is aware that it isn’t easy to break their attachment to Hindi GECs anytime soon. “People will sample it at various times. It isn’t about us being one more player in the market but about creating the market itself,” he says.

From an advertiser perspective, he says that the channel can be positioned relatively well because of its 8-10 per cent contribution to the Hindi speaking market (HSM). Currently the market size of Gujarati television is about Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore with 1 per cent viewership of the regional market which itself is about 16 per cent of entire TV market in the country. But Poddar puts the entire advertising market across platforms in Gujarat at over Rs 1000 crore, which he is eying.

“In terms of opportunity size, the market is big; though a lot of it goes to Hindi GECs. Today advertising there happens mainly through print, radio and national TV but now they will have a platform to talk to the audience. Once we get the channel running, we will approach advertisers to reallocate to our channel,” he says confidently. Currently, the channel has Aimil Amyron as its strategic sponsor for several months.

The channel has also hiked up ad rates by 100 per cent and is now selling primetime slot at Rs 3500. Advertisers currently prefer a Hindi GEC over a Gujarati channel, but he expects that to change in time. The national to regional advertiser skew is about 80:20.

A huge marketing plan began since Navarati with sources pegging the expenditure at about Rs 3 crore, which for a Gujarati market is heavy. An in-house team along with agency The CO, has come up with the creative. The first leg of the campaign began in Navrati when the channel launched its anthem by getting the stars at various on ground events in Rajkot, Surat and Baroda. This was followed by the outdoor campaign executed by Milestone Brandcom consisting of hoardings and rickshaws followed by movie theaters along with the launch of Happy New Year and branding partnership with fast food joints across the state. The launch day will see full page newspaper ads in Gujarat Samachar, Sandesh and Divya Bhaskar and will be followed by radio activity on station My FM.

A canter activity will commence from next week as well and is being executed by Marketmen Activations. Show promos are being shown on Gujarati channels TV9, VTV, GSTV, Sandesh News and its own ETV News Gujarati and CNBC Bajar along with UTV Movies and UTV Stars, the national channels. Digital advertising will include YouTube pre rolls and Facebook targeted spots for all Gujarati content. The entire campaign will go on for three weeks post launch.

Media planning has been executed by both the in-house ad sales team as well as Vizeum. A special promo has been created just for the channel with big personalities endorsing the channel such as Yusuf Pathan, Irrfan Pathan, Murari Bapu etc. The channel promo packaging has been done by Supra Films by Rajul Mishra.

A 30 member office is situated in Ahmedabad while the heads are in Mumbai. Poddar says that the production cost of the shows are close to what is spent in Marathi shows. However, the channel hasn’t launched any big ticket show for now to keep the costs low without compromising on quality. “We want to create a space that is different and unique from advertiser value proposition with targeted environment. So we aren’t taking a high burn strategy,” he says adding that he looks for a breakeven to happen by two years.

While the shows will run from Monday to Saturday, Sunday will see Gujarati movies as well as Hindi movies from the Viacom18 library. “Though Hindi movies will spike up our ratings, but the aim is to strengthen the Gujarati primetime band,” states Poddar.

Currently the channel is present on all DTH and digital platforms in the state while its analogue penetration is about 90-92 per cent. GTPL, Den, InCable, Dewshree,Tata  Sky, Airtel, Dish TV, Videocon d2h, Reliance Digital, Sun Direct are its list of distribution platforms. “The legacy that we have inherited from the old owner is its excellent distribution,” informs Poddar .

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