Mumbai: With the biggest national FMCG advertisers such as Himalaya, L'Oréal, Pepsi, and Reckitt, and 17 top Marathi digital creators on board, Canada-based QYOU Media’s regional foray Q Marathi is off to a good start.
Starting 15 March, the free-to-air market of over 84 million Marathi audiences in Maharashtra will have access to ‘original-to-TV’ content from across genres including comedy, romance, horror, animation, drama, and religion and spirituality in the form of Q Marathi. Reinforcing the network’s core DNA, the channel will tap into the world of social video to feature content from Marathi digital creators and social media stars.
Q Marathi channel head Neeta Thakare says that while the network plans to venture into a bunch of languages and genre niches going ahead, the decision to begin with Maharashtra was both natural and strategic. “The state being the company’s base and a top management that is strongly rooted in the Marathi cultural ethos, helped. Marathi being third-most spoken language, as well as Maharashtra’s high literacy rate, disposable income, and digital savvy youth make it an attractive market for content providers and advertisers alike,” Thakare shares.
This is evinced by the coming on board of some of the biggest pan-India brands such as Himalaya, L'Oréal, Pepsi, and Reckitt as ‘founding sponsors’, along with several others. These are among the top advertisers, nationally.
According to Q Marathi programming head Ashutosh Barve Marathi channels are generally driven by retail advertising by local stores and businesses. "Having four pan-India clients as ‘founding sponsors’ for a start-up channel is a significant achievement. It reflects the faith these diverse brands have in us and our content for being able to connect them to the right kind of audience." he says.
The content proposition
Talking of content, uniquely positioned as the ‘Bhannat Aahe’ channel in a market dominated by pay channels Star Pravah, Zee Marathi, Colors Marathi, and Sony Marathi and the sole FTA brand Sun Marathi, Q Marathi promises to carve out a niche for itself as the “OTT of Marathi television through its edgy and exclusive programming,” asserts Barve.
Elaborating on the channel’s unique proposition, he notes, “In recent times the Marathi audience has taken to digital and youth content in a big way in terms of both consumption and creation. There are so many brilliant creators from the small town and villages who are churning out videos in the long-form 10/15/20-minutes space on a regular basis. As a brand driven by the booming creator economy, the Q is bringing this content to the underserved youth that is currently limited to consuming mostly drama and mythology on television. In the future we may open to shorter content and social commerce, among other things.”
All the talk about youth and youth/digital/edgy content aside, can the channel as a GEC afford to eliminate other section of audiences? Barve clarifies that Q Marathi is definitely a family-inclusive channel. “We are programming for the entire spectrum of the audience with shows that talk of diverse subjects like childhood memories of grandmother’s home and another one that is reminiscent of Malgudi days, and yet other which depicts live-in relationships. So, while our content is always very ‘young-at-heart’, it most definitely caters to the entire family.”
Making it known
The Q Marathi is being promoted through a phased 360-degrees campaign, with a focus on reaching out to interior regions of Maharashtra. Currently, in the awareness-building phase, the campaign is heavy on print, shares Thakare.
Pointing out another unique feature of the Q’s promotional strategy on digital, Barve says, “it is for the first time a TV channel is using the social media might of its creator partners as a force multiplier to reach out to the ‘aam aadmi’ in a sustained manner.”