ETV Gujarati, Gujarati general entertainment channel (GEC), has made a couple of announcements: Firstly, starting this November, it will hike its ad rates by 100-200 per cent. Moving forward, the team plans to hike the ad rates even more, on a regular basis.
And secondly, the channel will reposition itself through six new shows that are slated to hit TV screens on November 3 at 7 pm.
The objective is to cater to the 'Dil Thi Gujarati' (Gujarati from the heart) audience, with a mix of fiction, comedy and reality shows.
The new shows will include comedy shows such as Patithayo Pati Gayo, 1760 Sasumaa (remake of ETV Marathi's 1760 Sasubai), Aa Family Comedy Che, Kanho Banyo Common Man, Hirjini Marji (a stand-up comedy show) and Daily Bonus (a travel based game show).
Actors Ketki Dave, Vrajesh Hirjee, Krishna Gokani and Sanjay Goradia will be part of the star cast for these shows, along with fresh faces like Sohan Master and Sagar Panchal.
The channel will continue to telecast the two food-based shows that are currently on air.
The underlying theme for the channel, after the repositioning, will be - light-hearted comedy. The plan is to position it as a channel that the whole family can watch together, in keeping with both, the community's fun-loving nature and its joint family system.
Recall that ETV Gujarati was not launched as a GEC. Previously, the content was a mix of news and entertainment. But in June this year, the channel decided to do away with the news part of the content. This was when the team launched two different channels - ETV Gujarati (GEC) and ETV Gujarati News.
This is why, previously, due to its news content, ETV Gujarati's primary audience included a high percentage of male viewers. In its new avatar, the channel will target the whole family and will be slightly skewed towards female viewers. The plan is also to target more youngsters and more urban audiences.
ETV Gujarati has tied up with production houses Sango, Interscope Communications, Click Digital Studios India, Meenaa Gheewaala Telefilms, We Workshop Entertainment and Entity Productions, and with actor Vrajesh Hirjee.
ETV Gujarati is looking to compete with other Gujarati news and entertainment channels, as well as with Hindi GECs. Though Poddar concedes the channel is relatively small compared to its competitors, he is hopeful the new lineup of shows will help attract viewers of Hindi GECs.
"Everything is going right for Gujarat right now. The talent in Gujarat is immense. Hopefully, if this works, the ecosystem will be more attractive for others as well. We do not mind if other players join in. In a way this will be a pioneering role," he says.
The channel is also looking to establish long-term partnerships with no more than three to four brands.
A 360 degree campaign (complete with an 'anthem'), designed to market the new positioning, is underway. The media mix includes, in-cinema promotion (during the release of Happy New Year), below the line (BTL) promotion, outdoor ads (billboards and 'autorickshaw backs'), radio (local stations) and print (three leading Gujarati newspapers).
'The CO' (creative agency) and Vizeum (media planning/buying) are working on the re-branding exercise.
"The biggest task for us right now," says Poddar, "is to make audiences sample the channel. With word of mouth publicity, we hope the channel will grow organically. We need to expand the market in terms of both, viewership and advertising revenues."