Sony Marathi to ramp up non-fiction offerings in 2019

MUMBAI: Having established its foothold in the Marathi GEC market, Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPNI) Sony Marathi will focus on non-fiction shows in 2019 in order to increase its market share.

Launched in August 2018, Sony Marathi has garnered close to 40 GRPs in the 800 GRP Marathi GEC genre. Zee Marathi has the highest viewership with Colors Marathi and Star Pravah trailing it by a long margin. Sony Marathi’s aim is to become a number 2 player in the market.

While fiction shows are the bread and butter for any GEC, the non-fiction shows help channels offer variety and bring new audiences into the fold. The non-fiction shows also help spike viewership for the channel besides bringing in the ad dollars.

Sony Marathi will be bringing two new reality shows on its platform. The first one is the Marathi adaptation of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, which aired on Colors Marathi for three seasons and ‘Super Dancer Marathi’, which is a kids dance reality show airing on Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

Revealing the channel’s non-fiction plans, Sony Marathi business head Ajay Bhalwankar said, “For 2019, we have some exciting shows. I can’t talk about all the shows but we will be launching the Marathi adaptations of KBC and Super Dancer.”

KBC Marathi, Bhalwankar said, will help the channel to increase reach and will raise its profile in the market. He also noted that KBC Hindi has a big following in Maharashtra.

Apart from non-fiction offerings, the channel will also launch fiction shows beginning March. One such show is ‘Ek Hoti Rajkanya’.

Sony Marathi’s existing content offering include seven fiction and two non-fiction shows. The channel’s tentpole shows include ‘Hum Bane Tum Bane’, ‘Julata Julata Julatay Ki’, and ‘Tee Phulrani’ on the fiction side and ‘Maharashtrachi Hasya Jatra’ on the non-fiction side.

Movies are also an important part of the channel’s content offering. It has a library of 100+ movies which are aired on Sunday.

Bhalwankar noted that the Marathi GEC genre has expanded in the last three years. The genre’s viewership stands at 800 GRPs as against 380 GRPs three years ago.

“The Marathi TV market has been growing steadily. Maharashtra has about 9% of India’s population while the consumption of FMCG products is around 13-14%. The state also has the highest GDP in the country. So from that point of view, it is a very important TV market,” he added.

As per the BARC ratings for Maharashtra/Goa (U+R): NCCS All: 2+ Individuals, Sony Marathi had entered the top 5 table in week 3. The channel is at moving between fourth and fifth positions. The channel opened with 30 GRPs and has been delivering 40 GRPs on an average in the past four weeks.

“As per the BARC, the reach of the channel was at number 3 and we had crossed DD Marathi’s reach in the first week. We are even head of Zee Yuva many times, which is a three-year-old channel. Despite being a five-month-old channel, we are ahead of Zee Yuva in the prime-time from Monday to Saturday. We have a higher time-spent than the competition,” said Bhalwankar.

Speaking about the market trends, Bhalwankar said that the Marathi GECs, unlike their Hindi counterparts, are viewed by the entire family. Therefore, the content being put out by the channel has to appeal to the entire family.

“’Hum Bane Tum Bane’ is a show which has one episode one story but it’s a family drama. There is a family and in that every day some thing or the other happens and the story ends in the same episode,” he explained.

The channel is trying to create its persona with each and every show it airs. Bhalwankar believes that shows like ‘Garja Maharashtra’, which concluded last week, has also contributed to the channel’s imagery. The 26-episode show narrated the story of the leaders who shaped Maharashtra’s culture.

Sony Marathi’s core TG is 15+ urban audiences. The content is also related to the lifestyle of urban markets where people are more passionate about their work and career.

“We create more intense content for our viewers and it works because our content is in the mother tongue which can be more specific. But the same thing doesn’t work for Hindi GECs because there we need to create content which can be watched by viewers from multiple states. Hence the content needs to be general,” Bhalwankar noted.

Talking about the pre-launch challenges, Bhalwankar said that the biggest challenge before the network was “where do we place ourselves in the market, what kind of content should we come up with, which will make us different and give a unique persona to our channel”.

He further noted, “We have mitigated those challenges very well and that’s why we could pitch ourselves in a premium position, where we are ahead of even a few other channels. Marathi audiences, overall since last decade have grown a lot.”

The channel’s content has been conceptualised in a way that it appeals to the audiences that streams content on digital. “This strategy has helped us. After the launch, we are not facing any challenges. We started with certain roots and we will stick to it.”