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Colors Gujarati Cinema will give the industry a big push: Ravish Kumar

L-R: Ravish Kumar, Sudhanshu Vats
L-R: Ravish Kumar, Sudhanshu Vats

In a bid to give a push to regional language content, Viacom18 Media has announced the launch of Colors Gujarati Cinema, the region’s first 24-hour premium movies’ channel. With the tagline of ‘Filmo Matrubhasha Ma’ (Movies in your mother-tongue), the channel is positioned to leverage the vibrant cinematic heritage of Gujarat. The latest launch follows the success of Colors Kannada Cinema. 

Colors Gujarati Cinema will launch on June 1, 2019 as a pay channel. It will be a part of the network’s primary Colors wala Value+ Pack. 

Adgully spoke to Ravish Kumar, Head - Regional TV Network, Viacom18, to find out more about the strategy for Colors Gujarati Cinema, the intensified on content in one’s mother tongue, growth potential of the Gujarati market and much more. Excerpts: 

What kind of growth potential do you see in the Gujarati market?
Gujarati language has clocked the highest growth rate amongst all language TV viewership, with an astounding 36 per cent year-on-year growth. Movies as a TV genre enjoys 25 per cent viewership in Gujarat, a state with an 87-year-old legacy of producing films and plays. In the absence of a premium television channel showcasing Gujarati movies, it was the perfect whitespace for us to capture. Not only does Colors Gujarati Cinema provide for a business case, but also allows us to give the people of Gujarat a destination to enjoy movies in their mother-tongue. With Colors Gujarati Cinema, we aim to respond to the regional market’s appetite for high-quality content, while retaining its socio-cultural identity through a rich library of 300+ films and plays. 

Moreover, there is a sizeable Gujarati community residing outside the state, hence it makes sense to cater to that audience, too, because the farther away you are from home, the more efforts you make to try and hang on to your roots and cultural entropy, so maybe television compensates it in many ways. Wherever they may be, you can recognise Gujaratis by their attire, food, language, etc. 

Read more: Viacom18 further expands its regional play with COLORS Gujarati Cinema

Why did you feel the need to launch a second movie channel at this point in time?
We are trying to grow in that market because the more options you give people, the more you are likely to be heard. One of the reasons is that there is a market that we are committed to and a robust TV viewership. We have seen in other markets like Bangla and Marathi, where when you have satellite pricing, it becomes a key component in the decision making of movies. Thus, more and better movies get made, which, in turn, positively affects the whole ecosystem and also benefits us. The act is coming together to push things, start doing entertainment, start doing events so that the industry comes of age and that’s what we felt in Gujarat - we wanted to give the industry a big push, which is why the movie channel came into being. Here, you have a very distinct geography and community, which is rich in terms of culture, heritage and so many different things, yet when it comes to content – and that too it is only television content – we don’t really have an alternative market. 

Back in the days the Gujarati film industry was huge and then came a lull. How is the market now there for film making?
We have seen a lot of interest from the market and we think they are very much encouraged by this. So, going forward one would logically be expecting more movies to be made and a lot more experimental and better content movies are coming up there. 

Other than the usual promotional activities, what other BTL activities are you planning for the launch?
Firstly, cross channel promotion is a big part of our strategy. Radio is already playing a big part and so is print – we are coming out with full page ads in newspapers announcing the launch, and will then follow it up with quarter page ads in a week’s time. Out of Home is also a huge component of our strategy – we have taken up a number of sites in Ahmedabad as well as 400+ Gujarat State Transport Corporation buses, which will continue for a month or so and give us good traction as they criss-cross the state. We have deliberately kept BTL off at this stage, as there your reach is always finite and your cost is also very high, therefore, at this stage we have chosen to dwell more on ATL. We are also leveraging digital, such as introducing a Rap song, which is grabbing attention and has led to people posting it online as well. We are trying to make it fun, engaging and interactive. 

What is the revenue share on the regional business?
They are very good, as I said earlier, this year we have grown 30+ per cent. Next year we are hoping for further improvement. Every network is committed and those that aren’t, are expanding rapidly and are up in the game. So, on the regional maxim, there is not much of an investment, but across the board every player is investing in upping the quality of content in movies and shows and it is becoming a very profitable proposition. 

Will there be a separate weekend strategy?
Yes, we have special WTPs apart from the 8 launches on every Sunday that we are planning. On Saturdays, we are going to have playlists at 8 pm. We will also have double blast for the WTPs on Sundays. 

During the week will you also put up shows like you do in Colors Kannada?
No, Colors Gujarati Cinema is going to be predominantly a 24-hour movie channel. There will not be any shows here. However, some of the WTPs are going to be featured on Colors Guajarati as well. The channel will focus on movies, however if there is a premiere, we would want to feature it on both platforms. 

Are there going to be more launches under the ‘Matra Bhasha’ umbrella?
At the moment there no such launches in the anvil, but we will extend the tagline to our parent channel and we will call it ‘Entertainment Matra Bhasha Mein’. We wanted a tagline that was versatile and really understood the needs of the market which is watching so much content outside of Guajarati. Print is a massive industry in Gujarat and there’s no reason why entertainment cannot be so. We feel the market is there for the making and creating, we have relocated our entire team. For the longest time our Colors Guajarati team was running out of Mumbai, but now it has been relocated to Ahmedabad. 

With the launch of the Gujarati movie channel, do you think the viewership of Hindi movies will shrink to a certain level?
I think it will, given an alternative, some of these movies have been there for a while and some of them are classics or recent hits, while the others are premieres. We hope to grow to a certain point. Although Hindi will be the first to cannibalise and take a hit. Currently, Hindi is close to 60 per cent of the viewership in that market and we think it will now go down. We have seen that happen in other markets, too, like Bangla and Marathi.

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