Marathi channels amp up content library as festive season begins

The viewership for Marathi language content has also gone up amid increasing competition

Mumbai: The start of the festive season in Maharashtra has renewed the competition among Marathi GECs to amp up their content library as they look to expand their audience share. While some channels have launched high-impact properties to drive viewership and grow advertising topline, a few new players have also entered into the fray.

There are 25 Marathi language channels including nine general entertainment channels (GECs), six news channels, five movie channels, four music channels, and a kids channel. South Major Sun TV Network has recently entered the market with its Marathi GEC – Sun Marathi. The TV viewership for Marathi language channels has grown by a robust 10 per cent over the previous year, according to data shared by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC India) with investments in native, culturally rooted content driving consumption across all language channels.

“The market has grown thanks to the competition between the channels and great content that is being produced,” said Sony Marathi, business head, Ajay Bhalwankar. “When we launched, the entire Marathi genre was hovering around 700 gross rating points (GRPs). Today, this genre is clocking more than 1000 GRPs looking at data from last two to three weeks.”

Sony Pictures Networks India forayed into the Marathi regional space in August 2018, and was followed by Shemaroo Entertainment which launched its Marathi GEC in January, 2020. These channels were admittedly late in the game dominated by established players like Zee Marathi, Colors Marathi and Star Pravah for nearly two decades.

The period between Gudi Padwa (April) till Ganesh Chaturthi (September) has been an important launch period for Marathi channels. Sony Marathi launched two fiction shows, “Ajunhi Barsat Aahe” and “Vaidehi - Shatajanmache Apule Naate”.

Zee Marathi recently launched “Man Zal Bajinda”, “Man Udu Udu Zal”, “Mazi Tuzi Reshimgath”, “Tuzya Mazya Sansarala Ani Kay Hava” and “Ti Parat Aliye”. Meanwhile, Colors Marathi is set to launch its high impact non-fiction property “Bigg Boss Marathi” season three on 19 September.

“Engaging storylines featuring progressive themes, stories that reflect the cultural nuances and traditions of the region in an authentic and relatable manner always finds an audience”, said Zee Entertainment Enterprises, cluster head – North, West and premium channels, Amit Shah. “Due to the effects of the pandemic, we have seen higher affinity for light-hearted shows.”

Zee has found success with the launch of a range of channels that cater to different cohorts. Alongwith its GEC Zee Marathi, it also has a youth channel, Zee Youva, FTA and pay movie channels, Zee Chitramandir and Zee Talkies, and  newly launched music channel Zee Vajwa.

A lot of Marathi original programming caters to audiences from Monday to Saturday but there is a significant drop off of audiences on the weekends when they migrate to Hindi movie channels. That’s where competitor Marathi movie channels by Zee and Shemaroo MarathiBana are growing viewer share by serving native movie content.

The growing affluence of Marathi-speaking audiences is also why this is a key language market for broadcasters to grow their topline. After, Tamil and Telugu, Marathi advertising segment contributes four per cent to the overall TV advertising revenues estimated at Rs 800-1000 crore. According to BARC India, 32 per cent of audiences that watch Marathi channels are from NCCS A classification, whereas NCCS A and B constitutes 67 per cent of TV viewership in this market.

Marathi market is one of the few markets where new players have been able to carve out a significant viewership share after investments in strong narratives. At the same time, competition between channels has grown the overall TV market of Marathi-speaking audiences and increased advertising spends in the region. This has enabled channels to continue making investments in fresh programming.

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