Sony Marathi looks to fill the gap in three-player market

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has begun its regional foray with Marathi market as it feels that there is a void in the market which can be successfully exploited. The Marathi GEC genre is dominated by Zee Marathi with more than 50% market share. The other two players in the market are Star Pravah and Colors Marathi.

However, the gap between the top player and the other two channels is huge. It is this gap that the network is looking to fill. The network has an aggressive content, distribution and marketing strategy to make a successful debut in the Rs 800 ad market.

Explaining the rationale behind entering the Marathi market, SPNI MD and CEO NP Singh said already has a strong viewership base in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Since there is a strong overlap in the consumption of Hindi and Marathi content, Singh feels that the loyalty for Sony brand will also extend to its Marathi GEC.

“Traditionally, Sony has a very strong presence in Maharashtra. We have seen 23% of market share in Maharashtra across all categories. Therefore, we decided to talk to our loyal audiences in their language. We decided to give them content which is aspirational and differentiated. We feel that there is a need gap in the market for it and that is the reason we decided to come up Sony Marathi. I am confident that with our entry and differentiated content the market will grow further,” Singh said during the launch of the channel.

Sony Marathi will debut on 19 August with the telecast of the prestigious 55th Maharashtra State Film Awards. The channel’s content mix will include fiction, non-fiction, and movies. It has a line-up of 11 shows including nine fiction and two non-fiction shows. The channel has also built a library of 100 movies which will be mostly aired on Sunday.

The fiction shows include ‘Julta Julta Jultay’, ‘H.M. Bane T.M. Bane’, ‘Saare Tuzhyach Sathi’, ‘Ti Phulrani’, ‘Duniyadari Filmy Istyle’, ‘Year Down’, ‘Bheti Laagi Jeeva’, ‘Hrudhyat Vaje Something’, and ‘Garja Maharashtra’. The non-fiction fare includes ‘Maharashtracha Favorite Dancer’ and ‘Maharashtrachi Hasya Jatra’.

With this content offering, the channel aims to beyond the ordinary content offerings, challenge the status quo and break perceptions that exist around relationships in society.

Speaking about the content offering, Sony Marathi business head Ajay Bhalwankar commented, “In past ten years, Marathi industry has seen a huge resurgence, especially in films. But if you see Marathi cinema and TV, there is a vast difference in terms of content as well as treatment. While content-driven films are doing well commercially we feel that Marathi TV content is still stuck. So, we are looking at content that’s slightly ahead than what Marathi TV is currently offering.”

The channel will have four hours of disruptive programming across genres such as romantic drama, light-hearted comedy, thriller and youth drama for six days a week. Sony Marathi’s prime time will start at 7 pm and end at 11 pm. The key target audience of the channel is 15+ urban-centric audience.

Singh noted that the content offering will appeal to the family audience and will be in line with its philosophy ‘Vinuya Atut Naati’ (weaving unbreakable relationships)

“The shows will be aligned with our brand philosophy. We haven’t decided the duration of the shows which is why even our show timings are disruptive. While some shows are six days a week, others are three days and one day a week. Sony has a reputation of offering long-standing shows and we hope to have some of these shows to have a long run. We are planning to launch more original shows in future,” Singh said.

In future, the channel is also thinking of replicating Sony Entertainment Television’s (SET) popular non-fiction shows.

Singh said that the channel will have a 100% distribution right from launch. It will be available on all cable TV and direct to home (DTH) platforms.

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