Competition heats up in Bengali GEC market

MUMBAI: The Bengali TV market is one of the six leading regional markets in India besides Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, and Malayalam. In terms of the pecking order, the Bangla market stands at fourth position after Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi.

Leading broadcasters like Star India, ZEEL, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), and Viacom18 have a presence in the market. Joining them soon will be South India’s top pay-TV broadcaster Sun TV Network which is expected to launch its Bangla GEC Sun Bangla by Q4 FY19 or Q1 FY20.

The Bengali GEC market used to be dominated by Star Jalsha. However, ZEE Entertainment’s Zee Bangla has upstaged the channel to become the number 1 channel. Viacom18’s Colors Bangla is a distant third followed by SPNI’s Sony Aath, which is a hybrid channel airing a mix of dub, original, and animated content.

There are also independent channels like Ruposhi Bangla and Aakash Aath. However, their market share is very minuscule. The top 4 channels command over 90% of the market share.

As per BARC India’s market share basis viewership data for week 39-42, 2018, TG: West Bengal 2+, Zee Bangla leads the chart with 42% market share followed by Star Jalsha (35%), Colors Bangla (8%), and Sony Aath (7%). The cumulative viewership of Bangla GECs is 841.5 million.

So what is it that makes Bengal an exciting market for broadcasters?

The viewership of Bangla language channels has been on an upswing in the last three years. In fact, the viewership of Bangla language channels has grown by 57% since 2016.

Further, unlike the other five regional markets, the TV penetration in West Bengal is still at 45-59%, which presents a huge headroom for growth to broadcasters and TV distribution platforms. In the five Southern states, the TV penetration is upwards of 90% while in Maharashtra it is 80-90%.

ZEEL chief marketing officer Prathyusha Agarwal said that the viewership of Bangla market is also growing at CAGR of 5%. She also stated that the viewership overlap between Hindi and Bangla channels is very low which bodes well for Bengali GECs. “The Bengali viewers are culturally rooted and prefer to consume content in their native language,” Agarwal.

Concurring with Agarwal, Viacom18 head regional entertainment Ravish Kumar said that the Bangla market is very rich in culture and literature which makes it easy to come up with new concepts. “Bengal market is more accepting when it comes to innovative content. The market is immensely competitive and lots of investments are happening in terms of content production and other avenues.”

Mahendra Soni, the co-founder of Bengal’s largest content production house SVF Entertainment, is pleased with the competitive intensity in the Bangla TV market. SVF is currently producing shows for all three Bengali GECs Star Jalsha, Zee Bangla and Colors Bangla. It is also in talks with Sun Bangla to produce shows for them.

Fresh from conquering the leadership spot in the Bangla GEC market, Zee Bangla has launched a new brand philosophy “Notun Chhondey Likhbo Jibon” (Orchestrating life in a new rhythm) with an aim to obtain complete dominance across the entire time slots.

Since July, Star Jalsha has launched new shows including ‘Debi Chaudhurani’, ‘Tekka Raja Badshah’, ‘Bajlo Tomar Alor Benu’, ‘Bhyabachaka’, and ‘Irabotir Chupkotha’. The channel had completed 10 years in September. Similarly, Colors Bangla is looking to grow its market share by launching new shows. Its biggest show was ‘Ke Hobe Banglar Kotipoti’, the Bengali version of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’.