Fiction is staple diet while non- fiction is the dessert - Anuj Poddar

MUMBAI:  Over the last one year, Viacom 18’s Marathi channel Colors Marathi, has been a game changer in the Marathi television space. From a single destination of leading high octane events to being the home to varied fiction and non-fiction content, Colors Marathi has become synonymous with Marathi entertainment. Over a period of time, Colors Marathi has seen tremendous growth, not only in the viewership, but also in advertising profiling.

Speaking with, Colors Marathi head Anuj Poddar said, “We have benefited from the expansion of the market. Our viewership has grown by 2.4 times or 240 per cent this year from last year. We had 15 per cent relative share. Today we have 36 per cent share. If we talk about the others, Star Pravah has gone down from 22 per cent share to 12 per cent while Zee Marathi has gone down from 63 per cent to 52 per cent share. Therefore Colors Marathi has grown and advertisers have started noticing us and are coming to us."

Adding further, Poddar said, “This year we have got 160 advertisers which is huge number to get on board. And, both the old and new advertisers have increased spends on the channel. Therefore, Colors Marathi is growing healthily.”

Nissan Motor Co, Samsonite Corporation, Hector Beverages,, Oxigen Services India, Scholl Piramal India, Cipla, JSW Group, Indian Oil Corporation, P.N Gadgil & Sons and Pernod Ricard India are the some of the brands that the channel has get on board.

Over the last one year Colors Marathi has climbed up from the number three position to number two according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data. Also among the top five programmes, Colors Marathi has three slots. Assa Sasar Surekh Bai was the top rated show in the genre with 1609 Impressions’ 000 in week 13 of BARC data.        

“For any GEC to do well on a consistent and sustainable basis, its fiction shows have to do well. You cannot say a channel is doing well unless its fiction does well. But fiction is also not enough by itself, you need to have a wide variety of content and non-fiction brings that variety. There is that certain segment of audience that comes for non-fiction, it could be male or kids. It brings more energy to the channel. Therefore both need to do well. But fiction is the staple diet and non-fiction is the dessert (Mithai) that adds spice to the staple diet. This year, both have worked well for us. Fiction has done really well but not at cost of non-fiction,” was Poddar’s quick rejoinder.   

Speaking about the strategy, he mentioned, “There is only one strategy and the strategy is to make good content. We don’t follow what others are doing. I believe in making good content and then people will come to watch, but good content doesn't mean that it is first good for me. It should be good from the context of my audience. We spend a lot of energy on research because ratings numbers are just a report card. They won't tell you what audience liked or disliked.”

According to the FICCI KPMG 2016 report, the largest share of the regional TV market is from the Tamil and Telugu regions. The Tamil genre has 25.7 per cent share while the Telugu genre has 24.4 per cent share. The Marathi genre saw a share of 4. 6 per cent in the regional TV space. “Tamil and Telugu are the non-HSM markets. They don’t have Hindi competition, so are lesser fragmented. But in Maharashtra I don’t compete only with Marathi channels, but also with other Hindi general entertainment channels. So yes, the share of Marathi market is lower than the share of the Tamil and Telugu markets.  But even in that case we are doing well, and that’s a bigger achievement,” said Poddar.

The Marathi genre is performing well, but nowadays the audience that is watching movies is not only Marathi people but also across the genres and that’s why the these movies are doing well.  Poddar contended, “80 per cent of satellite movies are unsold, which is putting pressure on the satellite price. But filmmakers are getting a big boost from theatrical revenue while the satellite cost is going down. I think it’s a buyers’ market today, and in that we are lucky because we have good films to choose from. We get the films at the price we want. We are also investing back into films as we market these films. We showcase these films and give a second lease of life to them.”

“From the ratings perspective, an early premier of a movie gives spikes, but now the scenario is different. Today movies are not ratings driven,’ he further added.

Speaking about the market and promotional innovation for movies, he informed, “We believe that when we are showcasing movies on television, we have to create that aura all over again and we want to market the films with the same importance as other shows. We have had different initiatives ranging from on ground activities to social media traction. Even all the artists have joined us to push the release of a film. So it is like giving a second marketing promotion to the film.”

Poshter Girl from Viacom18  Motion Pictures is the latest offering that the channel has. Talking about the two markets and their acquisition costs, Poddar informed that Hindi GEC is also in a phase correction mode, except for a few legacy deals that have been done. “If you see the peak of Hindi GEC it has gone down from Rs 50-60 crores to Rs 30-35 crores. I don't think our biggest film is even 10 per cent of that. Its acquisition price is 5- 7 per cent of a Hindi GEC blockbuster’s price.”

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