Sony Marathi aims to fill need gap in the market

The channel will offer 4 hours of programming Monday to Saturday in the 7-11 pm prime time slot

MUMBAI: Sony is taking the plunge into the Marathi general entertainment market to compete with Zee Marathi, Zee Yuva, Colors Marathi and Star Pravah.

The channel will be launched on 19 August 2018. Although the genre is pretty cluttered and Sony’s entry is pretty late compared to incumbents, Sony Pictures Network India MD and CEO NP Singh feels that it is the right time to enter.

“The regional language in Maharashtra is growing rapidly and we had traditionally a very strong presence in Maharashtra with our all the network channels. We have a 23 per cent plus market share and now we thought that it is the time to talk to our loyal consumers and give them content that is aspirational and differentiated and our research tells us that there is a need gap and that’s how we thought of coming up with Sony Marathi and there are expectations with Sony Marathi,” says Singh adding that he is confident that with its entry in the market, the market will grow further.

A BARC report points out that Marathi programming viewing grew by 74 per cent in 2017 over 2016.

Sony Marathi business head Ajay Bhalwankar wants to get the Marathi TV viewer to rise. “Since the last 10 years, Marathi films are doing well with content driven stories on the commercial market and that’s something that has not happened in the TV space,” he says.

The channel will target 15+ urban markets and will offer four hours of programming from Monday to Saturday in the 7-11 pm prime time slot. On Sunday the channel will showcase movies in a bid to garner more traction from the viewers.

Bhalwankar adds that currently there are no plans to air dubbed content or sports for now. “Sports is something that we offer in multiple languages and if we see a demand for any particular sport then we will consider that but right now we haven’t planned anything yet,” he says.

Sometime in the future, the channel may even look at replicating some of Sony’s non-fiction properties. But the focus now is to create unique shows for Sony Marathi.

Reports suggest that Sun TV also plans to foray into the Marathi space in a year showing the interest of broadcasters in this space. Adding relevance, Singh says, “We are getting to grow and fragment the market ourselves as more strong players come into the market and it will grow. It actually gives me the confidence that we are entering into the right market and earlier.”

In week 31 of BARC ratings, Zee Marathi led the genre with 320505 impressions (000s) followed by Zee Talkies at second position with 133441 impressions (000s) and Zee Yuva at fifth place with72303 impressions (000s). Colors Marathi and Star Pravah swapped their third and fourth positions with 117616 impressions (000s) and 124150 impressions (000s) respectively.

The new GEC will go live unveiling its robust content with a host of 11 new shows such as Julta Julta Jultay, H.M. Bane T.M. Bane, Saare Tuzhyach Sathi, Ti Phulrani, Duniyadaari Filmy Istyle, Year Down, Bheti Laagi Jeeva, Hrudhayat Vaje Something, Garja Maharashtra among others. The non-fiction lineup includes Maharashtracha Favorite Dancer and Maharashtrachi Hasya Jatra.

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