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The era of regional music dawns in India

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MUMBAI: From Guru Randhawa dominating music charts or DJs belting out Zingaat , one thing’s for sure – the wave of regional music has well and truly arrived in India. No wonder, making headway into the Indian regional market seems to be every broadcasters latest target.

The overall music genre on Indian television has been an under-indexed genre (in terms of advertising revenues) for a very long time. The genre commands a mere three to four per cent of the total TV advertising revenue against a six to seven per cent it contributes to the total TV viewership impressions. While ITV network recently launched a Punjabi music channel, the regional music space in general is yet to pick up pace in terms of its business.

Times Music COO Mandar Thakur says the regional space is massive and growing, attributing 20-23 per cent odd share to it. He adds that audiences prefer Punjabi, Telegu, Tamil, Bhojpuri, Bengali and Oriya music. “Some languages are developing like Marathi etc.,” he said.

Commenting on the same, Travelxp CEO Prashant Chothani, who has Bengali, Bhojpuri and Marathi music channels under his company’s umbrella, says “South music channels are also strong, wherein if you see in North, Bengali and Marathi languages are very prominent. As you know, we have a Bhojpuri music channel as well, so the Bhojpuri audience is scattered everywhere like in Mumbai, Punjab, Gujarat and all over India.”

According to the media reports, Network18, COO, Avinash Kaul said that regional is dominating the entire space. “We have around 270 regional channels out of 500 channels overall in BARC. The regional viewership is higher than the Hindi viewership and has a market share of 47 per cent. General entertainment channels (GEC) being the biggest attraction, regional GECs have 30 per cent more viewership than Hindi GECs. If we take a look at the advertisers, the regional market has seen an increase of 20 per cent in the last two years and around 3500 advertisers are exclusive to the regional market.”

When it comes to the preference of Indian audiences towards regional music over Hindi music channels, choices and topicality matter a great deal.

Chothani feels one cannot compare two markets. He says, “If you look at Bengali and ask whether or not Bengali music channel is doing well in comparison to GEC, the answer is yes. Is the Marathi music channel doing well in comparison to Marathi gec? The answer is yes.”

According to him if the regional and film industry is active, the local culture will be intact.

He further adds, “For example, there is no Guajarati music channel, we know that it took time to start, it has just been a while that it started to make movies, but there are no known singers in Guajarati market. Moreover, audiences have a mindset; they consume more of Hindi music rather than Gujarati music, whereas in other regional markets such as Bengali, they want to consume content of their language, so in HSM market there are 3-4 languages where there is an affinity that I want to consume content of my language in preference to Hindi.”  

Given the influence of digital platforms these days, Thakur says everything works on a smart phone and competes with it. “It’s about the future of music TV v/s Internet / mobile streaming of video: not about regional channels v/s the smart phone”.

Chothani feels linear TV is where you push your content to the consumers, whereas OTT is a place where audience will pull content. “A consumer goes to the app and finds the content, but how does he come to know about it? You will see traction on digital once you have consumed that content on television. If you go by BARC data, linear tv content consumption is also increasing. If both OTT and TV consumption is growing, it is good for the business,” he says

Talking about the sustainability of the music genre, Sri Adhikari Brothers (SAB) group CEO Manav Dhanda, who has ‘Mailboli’, a Marathi music channel under his company's umbrella, has said in the past that his regional channels are growing at 18-19 per cent and HSM is growing at about 14-15 per cent. “I don’t see sustainability to be a problem in the genre. It is about being a serious player. Rather, this is a low entry and high yield genre.”

The regional music industry has been under-indexed in terms of advertising revenues.

“The 10-sec ad rate falls in the range of Rs 100 to 1000 Rs. It depends on the popularity of channel. Regional music channel is actually very under priced, if you look at advertising rates, they are severely under priced,” a media expert informs us.

The regional music space does seem to have a wide scope for growth. But, considering the influence of digital platforms these days, it would be interesting to observe how music channels in general will compete in a tricky market place. 

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