Mi Marathi’s secret recipe for success in regional news space

MUMBAI: Marathi news channel Mi Marathi, which was eyeing the number one spot on the ratings chart after its late entry a year back, has finally hit bull’s eye.  

In order to stay above the rest, Mi Marathi has designed a content strategy different than the other Marathi news channels. “We have never had a regional approach towards the channel. Mi Marathi has always been shaped as a global Marathi channel,” Mi Marathi editor in chief Ravindra Ambekar tells in an exclusive chat.

The differentiating factor for the channel when it launched, according to Ambekar, was that while other Marathi news channels were only catering to the Maharashtrains in Maharashtra, Mi Marathi took to representing the non-Marathis. “So while others were idolizing Raj Thackeray, we went against him. The programming of Mi Marathi has always revolved around people’s agenda,” says Ambekar.

Ask Ambekar the recipe of reaching the top, and he proudly says, “We have never stuck to the studios. We believe in reporting from the ground and that’s how we connect to the viewers. People like to know the news from the ground and that is what has helped us reach the number one position.”

The channel, which is working on a whole new look that it will soon be launching, is also concentrating on differentiated programming to attract more viewers and retain its number one position.

Programming strategy

Mi Marathi has roped in some big names… right from Kumar Ketkar to Nikhil Wagle, the channel has some of the top guns of journalism on its side.

With its programming, the channel is also trying to bring a perceptional change that Marathi channels cannot cater to international news. It recently launched World News hosted by Kumar Ketkar, where he analyses major international news. “We must come out of the regional identity and boundaries,” opines Ambekar.

That apart, it also has a show Local to Global hosted by newly appointed Nilesh Khare along with Shreerang Khare and Mayank Bhagwat. The show currently is the highest rated for the channel.

Mi Marathi, through its content, is trying to connect to the new generation and that explains the English titles for most of its shows. “If we want to connect with the new generation, we will have to speak in their language,” says Ambekar, adding that the channel also does bulletins in languages spoken in the interior part of Maharashtra like a Malwani bulletin, all this to form a connect with the audience. 

According to Ambekar, in Mumbai, Mi Marathi faces stiff competition from Hindi news channels. “The issue here is that when there is big news, people shift to Hindi news channels,” he says, adding that regional channels too need to come up with shows, which are at par with the quality of an English news channel.

The channel is focusing on strengthening its morning primetime band, which currently airs half an hour recorded bulletins and shows. It will soon be launching a 7 am to 8:30 am non-stop super fast news bulletin catering to local and global news. “We have realised that people don’t have the luxury of sitting and watching news early in the morning and so we will be launching speed news in the morning band with the theme: ‘Don’t read newspapers, listen to them’,” informs Ambekar.

Mi Marathi also has had a different approach for the afternoon band compared to the others in the space. While others prefer airing cooking shows in the afternoon band, this Marathi news channel chooses to air shows, which caters to social and health issues. “We understand that women would not want to watch a cooking show in their free time and so we air shows, which cater to issues relating to commuting, heath, government etc,” he says.  

The evening band on the channel caters to remote areas of the state. Called the Zilla Parishad News, the programme covers issues at the zilla level. “We have total nine live bureaus and two - three  correspondents in every district of the state. This adds to the depth of stories we do,” informs Ambekar.

Realising a void of business programmes in the Marathi news channel space, Mi Marathi has launched two business related shows: Khisa Pakit by Bharat Kumar Raut, which was a pre-budget show and will now continue featuring interviews of CEOs and Mi Marathi Bigg Boss by Nilesh Khare, which will go on floors next month. 

The channel is also in discussion with Wagle for another show, after the successful Point Blank

“We need to go above the competition and only then will we succeed,” opines Ambekar, who is hoping to financially stabilise the company in the next one year.

“We are currently mostly dependent on corporate advertising currently. However, we are now moving towards retail marketing and events,” he informs.

Events in the pipeline

The channel is planning mega events like Agricultural Awards and educational seminars to boost its revenues. “We are focusing on revenue from events and retail client. There is limited space for advertising on television, since we need to concentrate on content and so we are focusing on events,” he says.

While the Agricultural Awards will take place in October, the first educational seminar will be held in May at Kolhapur. 

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