Boom in Bhojpuri broadcast

24 Aug,2012


By Ananya Saha


It started in right earnest in August 2008 when Mahuaa TV defined the advent of Bhojpuri broadcast media. The 24-hour general entertainment channel wanted to identify with and meet the needs of the Bhojpuri-speaking community through its programmes, which have a strong local essence and mix of aspiration and entertainment. The channel offers a potpourri of serials, feature films, reality shows, news etc.


The media market, however, is not restricted to Mahuaa anymore with newer channels and programming wanting to cater to this dialect, and audience.


Earlier this month, CNEB and Launch Pads launched music channel Hummra M. Delhi-based production house AAP Media has taken a plunge into television broadcast with the launch of Anjan, a Bhojpuri GEC. Big Magic, the regional entertainment for the Hindi heartland from the Reliance Broadcast Network, launched a Bhojpuri music band, titled ‘Hamar Des Hamaar Sangeet’ in January 2012. And very recently, starting August 18, the channel started airing Bhojpuri movies in its weekend band – ‘Superhit Bhojpuri’. Then there’s Sangeet Bhojpuri and Dabanng – the channel from Sri Adhikari Brothers that features Hindi content with a flavour of the Bhojpuri region.



Probal Gaanguly

Talking about the size of the Bhojpuri broadcast market, Probal Gaanguly, Partner, Launch Pad, which consulted CNEB to launch Hummra M said, “The only Bhojpuri channel so far was Mahuaa, which is a general entertainment channel. All other channels are a mix of Bhojpuri and Hindi language content. Hence, the past has very little relevance for future. You must reflect on what happened to markets like Bengal, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam etc to see that till such time content is not well-packaged and developed in own mother tongue, the viewership always goes to Hindi. The only exception being Gujarati.”




Nikhil Sheth

Nikhil Sheth, President, Mahuaa Network pegs the market size of Bhojpuri broadcast media market at Rs 100 crore. He said, “Unlike other regional markets, Bhojpuri cuts across the state of Eastern UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. The sheer population is close to 12 crore, which is one-tenth of India. Therein lays the potential.” He is glad that Mahuaa had the first-mover advantage in the market.


Outlining the growth of the segment, Anand Chakravarthy, Business Head, Big Magic, said: “Bhojpuri is a different socio-cultural market, with Bihar being a key market. It was a traditionally media dark market, and relatively poor. But in the last 5-6 years, it has evolved. The Bhojpuri area is culturally rich and has a distinct language. Even the Bhojpuri film market is of decent size. The people in this region have local sources of entertainment. And now, we have advertisers who want to reach out to this Bhojpuri audience.”


Anand Chakravarthy

Mr Chakravarthy also said that while Mahuaa had a good run when it began, it has seen a steep decline recently. But just as Big Magic saw the opportunity, other broadcasters are reach out to this audience. “Advertisers now can actually connect much better with their consumers. And this will be a cultural connect, an attitudinal connect, an emotional connect, a chance for the brand to speak their own language. The opportunities are endless,” said Mr Gaanguly, adding, “Bhojpuri is centrestage on most of the lead GEC channels today through their content. It is only a matter of time before Bhojpuris will have their own basket of channels to choose from eclipsing the hold of Hindi.”


Not hunky-dory

It is, no doubt, a huge market potential that is currently underserved and underserviced due to daunting marketing and media logistics. But the market is becoming a strong consumer market of FMCG, durables, jewellery and education, according to Mona Jain, CEO, VivaKi Exchange.


Mona Jain

The traditionally male-dominated viewership has skewed towards an equal gender ratio in this market. Interestingly, even as reality shows like Sur Sangam on Mahuaa, and Bhojpuri music shows continue to draw audiences, urbanised serials and quiz shows does not get much audience.


“India is a young country and so is the case with the Bhojpuri-speaking. But youth is not just an age group. The manifestation of youth as understood by brand marketers are more to do with people who are seeking better life & life style. In fact the hard coded market data puts Bhojpuri people from Bihar and Jharkhand are as upmarket as an average urban Indian. Our incessant effort was to unearth it and then design a channel for them (Hummra M), and they loved it,” said Mr Gaanguly.


Even as the entry of various players does show the interest in the market, the Bhojpuri broadcast media is also marred with challenges. TAM is restricted to Patna, and includes the area in Hindi-speaking market. “It is difficult to explain the advertiser that Bhojpuri is not an area, but a socio-cultural audience that speaks this particular dialect,” said Mr Sheth.


Another challenge, according to Mr Chakravarthy is quality content. His view is supported by Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia who added, “Even as the advertisers seek to reach the audience, it remains to be seen which channel emerges as primary and which one a secondary option for advertisers.”


Sundeep Nagpal

Sundeep Nagpal, Director, Stratagem Media, opined, “Bhojpuri is a widely spoken language. Given that there are so many channels for other languages, I see no reason why more players should not enter the Bhojpuri market. And yet, it’s not as if this market can accommodate anybody and everybody.  It’s as though several media houses seem to have identified the potential of this market at the same time, which might result in chaos and anarchy. Almost as though the potential of other language channels has been exhausted, and media houses are now planning to explore this untapped market. It may also result in a race for genres, in say, news, music, movies etc., within Bhojpuri itself..”


The perception of Bhojpuri market as serving B-Grade content needs to be altered too. As the market grows, the advertising has grown too. While nobody shared the numbers, the interest of everyone to capitalise on this market shows the potential. And it is of course a win-win situation for the audience, who are now being catered content in their local language, and advertisers who need not spend on national GEC’s and expect their TG in this market to respond.


“National GECs in India began with Doordarshan in 1969. But thanks to geo-linguistic pressure today even the best of GEC channels are producing soaps with the protagonist as Bhojpuri-speaking. Besides the number of songs movies and jokes in Bhojpuri are huge signifying the huge importance of Bhojpuri as a language. I have a feeling in this day of fragmentation we are about to see launch of many language channels, which are defined by language and not geography,” concluded Mr Gaanguly.


And we thought we had one too many already 🙂


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