Company says while the time spent on music channels is low, their frequency is high. Plus, there are retail businesses that want to advertise. In Maharashtra, 50 percent ads come from retail business. Other Marathi music channels include 9X Jhakaas and Sangeet Marathi.
Zee Vajwa, a Marathi music channel from Zee, will go on air from October 10. This is the first channel to be launched since April, and since the lockdown.
The channel will offer 3,000+ playlists and a music++ experience, which involves both short-form and long-form content.
While Zee is confident about its new channel, the question is why did the company choose to launch a music channel, a genre which was under serious pressure in terms of advertising during the Coronavirus-led lockdown phase?
If we look at BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) data, music was among the genres on TV that saw the steepest drop in free commercial time (FCT) in the initial days of lockdown.
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In week 14 -- between April 4 and 10 -- music channels saw a 58 percent drop in FCT as compared to the pre-COVID period -- between January 11 and 31.
Music strikes the right chord with advertisers
Yet, Ashish Sehgal, Chief Growth Officer, Advertisement Revenue, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), is confident about both the genre and the Marathi language content consumption.
“First, volumes have come back to the pre-COVID level, and now what’s left is value correction. IPL (Indian Premier League) is helping TV inventory to go up. During IPL, a lot of secondary genres like music get picked up by advertisers, and this is why we expect volumes to pick up in the music genre,” he said.
“While time spent on music channels is low, frequency of these channels is high. They are the second most preferred category by advertisers. They are more cost-effective as compared to GECs (general entertainment channels) or movie channels. So, music is a good filler for advertisers. Plus, with more music channels available on Freedish, their rural reach has also increased,” he explains.
If you are wondering how cost-effective music channels are for advertisers, a 10-second ad slot on a music channel will cost between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500. On a GEC, a for a 10-second ad slot, an advertiser will have to shell out Rs 20,000-Rs 40,000, while on movie channels, the ad rates for the same duration is anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000.
This is why Sehgal believes that a Marathi music channel will become an entry point in the TV space for many small advertisers.
“In the regional space, there are retail businesses that want to advertise and those are the opportunities we will get. In Maharashtra, 50 percent ad contribution comes from retail business. And for smaller advertisers, genres like movies, GECs and sports are expensive,” he says.
Sehgal also said that they are in talks with new categories like education technology, gaming, pharmacy OTC (over-the-counter) products, besides FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), which is the biggest category on TV.
The other Marathi music channels on TV include 9X Jhakaas and Sangeet Marathi.
Music and Marathi-- a strong partnership
While music genre seems lucrative, why did Zee choose Marathi?
Pankaj Balhara, Dy Business Head, Music Cluster, ZEEL, pointed out a few facts about content consumption in Marathi language.
“Marathi is the fourth most consumed regional language and it is the number one in the Hindi-speaking market. It has added 33 percent share in the last four years in terms of consumption. When it comes to regional music channels, Marathi is the second most consumed, with a 19 percent share after Punjabi, which has the highest share of 60 percent. While there are eight Punjabi music channels, there are only three Marathi music channels,” Balhara said.
In addition, Maharashtra has over 80 percent TV penetration and 14 percent viewership contribution to overall TV, according to BARC data.
Plus, regional music on TV is equating its reach with Hindi music, with both categories reaching a 447 million viewers monthly.
Plus, Sehgal said: "We (Zee Network) are in the GEC space. We are in movies, so we are closing the loop. Hence, a music channel from Zee."
Zee offers Zee Marathi (GEC), Zee Talkies (movie channel), Zee Yuva (GEC), among others. In the music genre, Zee offers two Hindi language channels -- Zing and Zee ETC Bollywood.
The online-TV battle for music
Music channels have tough competition from the online medium.
Music is consumed on 60 TV channels (17 Hindi and 43 regional channels), radio, around 9+ music streaming apps, YouTube, Caravan, Torrent and more with social media emerging as music discovery platforms.
Yet, Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, ZEEL, believes that India loves consuming music on TV as “it is more a we culture, unlike online which is more individual consumption.”
She also said that with 666 million monthly viewers, music channels on TV lead the consumption pie across platforms with digital estimated at 353 million.
Ownership of content
When it comes to content, Zee Vajwa is banking on Zee Music Company and Zee Studio Marathi, which has made films like Sairat and Natrang.
In addition, it has got on board around two music banners and will acquire more content from standalone artists and other music labels.
When it comes to the Coronavirus impact on getting new content, Balhara said that there is enough new content.“There are certain offerings that have not been platformed yet. There are Zee Marathi shows which have music. And then the non-film music from a couple of labels are releasing songs.”