The pay channel will go on air from August 19 and will be available on cable and direct to home platforms.

Expanding its bouquet of channels, broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) on Tuesday entered the regional general entertainment space with the launch of Sony Marathi.

The pay channel will go on air from August 19 and will be available on cable and direct to home platforms, the company said on Tuesday.

The broadcaster operates a Bengali channel Sony Aath, which is a hybrid channel with fiction, movies and animated content.

"Sony Marathi is our first original content mainstream entertainment channel in Marathi. It's first of a few that we plan to do in future," SPN managing director and chief executive NP Singh told PTI.

One of the fastest growing networks in the past four years with new channel launches, SPN has 23 percent market share in Maharashtra across all categories.

"We have seen a big growth in viewership in local languages and that's not just on TV but in cinemas and digital platforms as well. We believe that presence in these markets is important and that's what we are embarking upon," he added.

As per television rating agency Barc India, there are 23.7 million households in the state and Sony Marathi is targeting the urban 15-plus audience.

The Marathi GEC space is dominated by Zee with an estimated 54 percent market share with its two channels – Zee Marathi and Zee Yuva – besides Star Pravah and Colors Marathi.

Sony Marathi will offer four hours of daily programming from Monday through Saturday with nine fictional and two nonfiction shows, along with some movies.

"Fifty-four per cent of the market is controlled by one player and that's where we see opportunity," Sony Marathi business head Ajay Bhalwankar said.

"Marathi entertainment in the past eight years has changed rapidly but not on TV. We are looking at content that's slightly ahead than what TV is sitting at," he added.

Singh said the channel's content is very differentiated and "strong enough for us to actually create disruption in market".-moneycontrol