Pogo looking to succeed where Nick failed

MUMBAI: They may not admit it but Turner is certainly taking a leaf out of Viacom's book when it comes to blazing a trail among the kids. Turner Networks Asia is all set to fulfil a gap that it believes exists in the Indian kids market with its channel Pogo. The India exclusive channel launches on 1 January 2004 and promises to be an interesting mix of live action, drama and series.


Turner Networks Asia senior VP, MD Ian Diamond

Speaking to about the programming strategy, Turner Entertainment Network Asia's senior VP, MD Ian Diamond said, "We are splitting the days into three distinct parts. The morning part is aimed at our younger kids aged two-six - very developmental based. They are about nurturing the kid and making education a fun environment."

This is the same strategy that Viacom's kids channel Nickelodeon has followed in the US and Europe with great success. Its cutting edge shows are strategised so as to appeal to different kids demographics. Shows such as Sponge Bob Squarepants have worked brilliantly. This has certainly been a major factor in Cartoon Network reorienting its strategy to bring in the Adult Swim Block in the US. Pogo's aim is the same as what Nick has done which is to create a world where kids rule. Like Nick, it is looking to put kids at the centre of its on-air identity. This is clearly visible in the interstitials which have been created.

Asked about why Turner decided to bring in Pogo, Diamond said, "We have done a new generation lifestyle study. Animation is the favourite genre of programming. However there are a number of other genres that kids like to watch whether it be movies, dramas, comedies. As we continue to blaze a trail in the kids space we felt that we needed to offer a better array of genres. Therefore we will be launching a multi-genre kids television channel Pogo just for India."

"We felt that there were needs being underserved by the Cartoon Network animation proposition. Cartoon Network plus Pogo we believe constitutes a complete kids package. We feel that we are pushing kids TV into the 21st century. Pogo is aimed at kids from the very young to kids and their families," said Diamond.

Programme Highlights: The Boohbahs which are targeted at young kids are five atoms of power, light, fun and they travel in their Boohball around the world from child to child. 15 Countries including India (Jaipur) are visited throughout its changing title sequence.

Another show that Pogo will showcase is BBC's The Teletubbies. Miffy and Friends have proved to be very popular in Europe. It is a stop-motion animation series about the small everyday explorations and discoveries of a preschooler. Another show Barney And Friends has been entertaining and educating children for the past decade. It is one of the top shows for pre-schoolers in the US.

Diamond added, "From 4-7 pm we will run what will be called Kids Prime. We will show kids dramas, comedies. From 7 pm onwards we will be showing family specials. This would include specials like the Walking With series. This is the world's first documentary on the history of dinosaurs which we acquired from BBC Worldwide. The series will also deal with beasts, spacemen. Another attraction in this slot is an Oscar winner Wallace and Gromit. Wallace is an eccentric inventor who is first introduced in the movie A Grand day Out along with his dog Gromit."

"On Cartoon Network we have started airing the animated series version of the movie Men In Black. Pogo will also follow suit with the animated version of the television series and movie Mr Bean. The star of the television series and film Rowan Atkinson lends his voice to the goings on. There will also be hit movies like Space Jam. "

The Localisation Plan: "Pogo is something created just for the Indian market. It is something we are building from the bottom up in India, Diamond said.

"Right now the content we have is drawn from other sources. But Pogo provides an excellent platform for us to move forward in terms of local production at a later date. This will be out of the realms of animation."

A question arises as to why Pogo is not being launched in any other country. Diamond replied saying, "India is a unique market in which we enjoy a very strong leadership position. Research has shown that it makes a lot of sense for us to diversify in this market in this manner.

Marketing and Promotions: Diamond refused to provide details except to say that it would roll out over the next month and that iiit would include print, outdoor and on-air. Asked if there were plans to bring other channels from the Turner stable into India like TCM, Diamond replied in the negative.

All said and done Pogo should drag in the viewers like Cartoon Network. Of course the irony is that Nickelodeon, from where it has gotten the basic structure of how it should programme and package the content for Pogo, has failed to make any real impact in India.

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