When Sony Entertainment Network entered the Marathi GEC market space three years ago with Sony Marathi, the genre was already crowded with much older players such as Zee Marathi and Star Pravah, But despite the challenge, the channel managed to carve a niche for itself in the market, says Ajay Bhalwankar, Business Head, Sony Marathi.
“We launched Sony Marathi three years ago. At that time, GEC launches for most HSM (Hindi-speaking market) channels did not go well, but Sony Marathi managed to launch itself at a GRP (gross rating point) level of 30. From there, we reached a GRP of 108 last week. This growth proves that if you have different and new content, there are people who would want to latch on to it,” he said.
Bhalwankar said the channel has received an exceptional response from advertisers across sectors, including local advertisers in Maharashtra. “The Sony Marathi audience is very advertising-friendly and that has been helping us increase our advertising revenue month on month.”
Sony Marathi has been able to command good prices because it has been able to gather such audiences, he said and explained that though it has been a late entrant, it managed to create a good and impactful medium in this genre.
According to Bhalwankar, the channel has attracted top advertisers such as Pepsi and RBI along with many regional brands and clients, which have started spending a lot of money on advertising. He said their advertising growth doubled in the last couple of months.
Asked about their expectations from the festive season, he said for Marathi channels, the festivities start from Shravan itself. “We have a huge Ganpati event where top stars are going to perform. Apart from that there are a couple of shows that we will launch. That's something we are working on aggressively. In the next three months, you'll find a lot of aggression coming in from Sony Marathi, which is a continuous effort from our network.”
Speaking about the channel’s content strategy, he said the channel stands for positive and progressive content. They launched a few shows in July and will launch another one in August.
He said while the first wave of the pandemic hit the revenues of most broadcasters, it gave the channel an opportunity to back on Sony Marathi’s content as it was fresh and new.
According to Bhalwankar, the entry of Sony Marathi has strengthened the genre. “If you see back when we launched three years ago, Marathi GECs were at 600-700 GRPs whereas today, the number has gone up to 1000+. Overall more and more people are tuning into Marathi TV and there is healthy competition with the arrival of Sony Marathi. We have managed to acquire a 10% market share. That goes on to say that somewhere we have contributed in expanding the genre and creating our niche audiences,” he explained.
With channels such as SET and SAB, the network already had a strong presence in the Maharashtra market and hence the addition of a Marathi channel strengthened their entire bouquet, Bhalwankar said.