The Marathi GEC space is one regional market that is filled with tremendous opportunities and potential. With the growth of Marathi cinema and the increased love for the local culture and language, television networks who have a presence in the market have been trying hard to capture the viewers’ attention and gain market share. This is evident with the recent entry of Sony Marathi and the Marathi movie channel by Shemaroo.The Marathi GEC as a category has also grown and within that Marathi GRPs in the market too have grown. Earlier Hindi GEC used to dominate but Marathi GECs are proving to be tough competition.
Viacom18’s COLORS Marathi in over a span of two years has become a formidable player in the Marathi GEC space and has grown exponentially. Ravish Kumar, Head – Regional Entertainment, Viacom18 spoke exclusively to Medianews4u and said, “COLORS Marathi has come a long way in the last two years. Our GVMs in April 2018 were 108, and as of January 2020 they were 202, so we have doubled our business. In the past two years, we have doubled our ratings; and our market share has also gone up from 20% to 30%.”
COLORS Marathi has also made it to the top two TV channels ranking list across all genres including Hindi GEC and movies in Maharashtra; all of this with just 15 hours of original programming. All this success according to Kumar came on the back of a tremendous upswing in time-spent on the channel.
COLORS Marathi has a two and half hour time band in a day of pure original programming which totals up to 15 hours in a week, whereas competition channels have more than double the number of original programming hours; close to 33 hours a week.
“We are the clear market leaders in terms of time spent”, said Kumar. Continuing he said, “In a span of two years our time spent from 128 minutes in April, 2018 has now galloped and more than doubled to 263 minutes.”
Time spent on Bigg Boss Marathi has also increased by 72%
Tent pole Properties – Reality
COLORS Marathi’s tent pole reality shows include Bigg Boss Marathi and Sur Nava Dhyas Nava. The GVMs of Bigg Boss Marathi from season one to season two have increased by a total of 162. Sharing the growth numbers, Kumar proudly said, “This season of Bigg Boss Marathi has been a phenomenal season. Our viewership in season one was 346 GVMs which increased to 508 GVMs in season two, which was a massive increase. If one looks at the average GVMs per week; season one were 23 and 34 in season two.”
“Bigg Boss Marathi season one had 71.5 million views and season two went up to 86 million views on Voot; which translates into a 21% growth season-on-season.”
Talking about Sur Nava Dhyas Nava Kumar said, “Sur Nava Dhyas Nava is an organic property that we have created which showcases singing talent and has done extremely well for us.”
COLORS Marathi has five shows in the fiction category, out of which three shows are in the top five shows category across the market. According to Kumar essentially there are three genres in the fiction show category that are well-loved and watched by the Marathi audiences. They are historical, mythological shows, romantic family and drama.
“We have only five shows in the fiction category which are Raja Ranichi Ga Jodi, Balumamachya Navana Changbhala, Jeev Zala YedaPisa, Swamini, Sukhchya Sarini Hye Maan Baware out of which Balumamachya Navana Changbhala, Jeev Zala Yeda Pisa and Raja Ranichi Ga Jodiare in the top five shows in the Marathi genre” said Kumar
Kumar pointed out some of the key differences of the Marathi audience from the Hindi speaking audience. He said, “Our fiction shows are not the typical set based shows, they are based in Sangli, in a real location. Marathi audiences tend to be very rooted. We put in a lot of emphasis on the dialogues and the nuances of the culture, the way in which it is shot or even the scale of shooting.”
The programming team of COLORS Marathi has understood the audience beautifully. On the sort of stories that work, Kumar said, “Simple stories work, but they have to resonate. In all our learnings, the audience does two things, either follow the protagonist or follow the story. In our case, we are fortunate that they tend to follow both. It’s very slice of life, if one is a Maharashtrian then it will resonate at a very deeper level, but if one is a non-Maharashtrian then they will love it because of the regional flavour it brings. People appreciate authenticity, they appreciate rootedness in many ways, and it’s a celebration of identity and who they are.”
Fiction vs Non-Fiction
On which is a bigger driver for growth on COLORS Marathi, fiction or non-fiction, Kumar said, “We only have limited hours of programming. Obviously the scale at which fiction is shot is much higher so we pay a lot more there. So you know, saying that one is more of a revenue generator than the other is a little misleading and offset by costs. But at the end of the day, it is your staple fiction, which tends to be the one that draws the most viewers and garners the most interest.”
Continuing he said, “Non-fiction again depends on what time of the year one does it and how it syncs with either new product launch calendars of companies or their marketing objectives at the time, but you always have audiences who like non-fiction for the sheer reach and the variety of brings to you in terms of audiences.”
Speaking on the local vs national brands ratio of advertisers that support COLORS Marathi, Kumar said, “The year 2019 has been a tough year for advertising; we have seen the proportion of local advertisers actually go up because they are the ones who are stepping forward across reality shows, movies and events. Overall I would still say it’s about maybe a 70%-25% ratio.
On the overall advertising climate Kumar said, “The overall advertising climate now is actually shifting. The buoyancy is coming back, after the impact of probably a fragile economy. We’re starting to see it become more vibrant again. There is a whole new category of advertisers who are coming to the fore, the education sector with Byju’s, Upgrad and a whole bunch of others. Gaming is picking up in a big way; we are starting to see a lot of the auto manufacturers, especially in the SUV segment off late starting with MG Hector, Kia and Maruti Brezza’s re-launch. There’s a lot of robustness there as well.”
Expecting the 5G mobile handset manufacturers to add COLORS Marathi to their marketing plan Kumar said, “The latest wave to come will be the 5G handset manufacturers. Across the board, E-Commerce still continues to advertise very strongly.”