channel market is expanding at a rapid pace. Some of the prominent players in the segment are Zee Marathi (general entertainment channel, GEC), ETV Marathi (GEC), DD Sahayadri, Mi Marathi (GEC), 24 Taas (news) and STAR Majha. Very soon, Lokmat will also launch a Marathi news channel in collaboration with IBN 7.
According to Nilesh Thakkar, national head, STAR Majha, the size of the Marathi television market was estimated at Rs 110-120 crore in 2006-07. In fiscal 2007-08, the market is expected to grow by 90-100 per cent, as compared to last year, to Rs 210-220 crore. He believes in the potential of the market and anticipates that it will grow another 50 per cent and reach the mark of Rs 300 crore in 2008-09.
Although the channel was launched in June 2007, it officially opened its airtime for advertisers in September 2007. Thakkar says that the response from the advertisers has been remarkable in the five months since. The Marathi channel market has several GEC players, but very few news channels. Zee's 24 Taas is the only competitor for the channel in the Marathi news space. STAR Majha perhaps has the advantage of a less cluttered news space and should be able to attract advertisers by creating good value. So far, more than 100 advertisers have tested the channel, P&G, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) and LIC among them.
The ad rates on STAR Majha vary from Rs 500 to Rs 4,000 per 10 seconds. Thakkar says that an advertiser can get substantial value for his money if he is spending between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. Some of the innovations that the channel has been trying out for advertisers recently include on ground branding promotions through contests and festivals, product placements in relevant programmes, aston band messages and tickers. For a higher sum, an advertiser can also go for advertiser funded programmes on the channel.
Thakkar says, "The whole ad strategy is based on the principal of keeping the programming costs at the minimal level and generating maximum revenue by creating good value for the client's brand or product."
STAR Majha has a combo package for advertisers, which allows them to have air time on the Hindi news channel, STAR News, as well. This package attracts national advertisers and equips the regional ones with countrywide reach. Reliance has been promoting its textile brand, Vimal, through this package. STAR Majha has a standalone package that allows advertisers to address only the Marathi audience. This has encouraged a number of unknown but substantial advertisers in the region to reach out to their target groups.
"Through the ad strategy, STAR Majha aims to build sync between the programming content and revenue generation," says Thakkar. The channel has recently launched Kent Khaman, a programme on recipes and food preparation. It will launch Kohinoor Happy Homes in the second week of February. To explain his point, Thakkar cites the example of Kohinoor Happy Homes, which is a real estate and home improvement programme. Kent and Kohinoor are the advertisers who are sponsoring the programmes.
Thakkar says most real estate advertisers prefer to advertise through the print medium. The strategy for the programme is to compete with the print medium and attract those advertisers to the channel. STAR Majha is providing real estate advertisers with inhouse creatives for Rs 3,000-5,000, without the help of any advertising agency. Being a visual medium, the channel has an advantage over the print medium - that of being able to showcase sample flats.
The channel is also creating appointment viewing by organising various contests and competitions during festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi. Recently, STAR Majha tied up with Oral-B for a dance and mimicry contest called Mother and Child. Forty pairs of mothers and children participated. Thakkar adds that it is always difficult to get national advertisers, especially on a regional news channel, but STAR Majha has been able to sell ad time for its two new shows well in advance.
STAR Majha is targeting the entire family, from teenagers to the elderly, through its programming Other programmes on the channel are School and College Katta (youth), Majha Bouncer (cricket), Khel Majha (sports), Dev Majha (for elderly couples), Remote Majha (programme on Marathi GECs for a female TG), Dhen-ta-dhen (film based show), Star City (news), Mumbai East West, and Dahachya Batmya (primetime news bulletin).