Cartoon Network, Pogo aim at all DTH platforms

NEW DELHI: Cartoon Network and Pogo, the kids channels from the Turner stable, are not likely to restrict themselves to the Zee and ASC Enterprise-promoted Dish TV direct-to-home (DTH) platform, but would look at other such avenues too.

"As far as we are concerned, the more platforms we are on, the better it is," Turner International India MD Anshuman Misra told here today.

However, he added that no official word had come regarding Cartoon Network and Pogo from either Indian pubcaster Doordarshan or the Tata-Star combine, both of whom propose to start a DTH service in the near future.

But even without additional platforms, Misra said both the channels were doing well with Pogo "exceeding expectations factored into the business plan."

Still, it is Cartoon Network that is setting the cash box ringing for Turner in India. The kids channel, which was introduced in the Indian market in 1995, recorded a 48 per cent growth in ad sales revenue on year-on-year basis during the period 2002 and 2003 (calendar year).

The quarter on quarter growth in 2004 (January - March vs. April - June) in ad sales revenue was 36 per cent for Cartoon Network, Misra pointed out, adding, "With Cartoon Network now being perceived as a mass channel, some non-traditional advertisers (like petroleum company HPCL) too have come on board."

Though exact numbers are not available regarding the size of the kids market in India, it is estimated to be in the region of Rs 1 billion. "Our assumption is that the advertising pie would grow for this particular genre of television programming and entry of more players may fuel that growth through competition," Misra said, while dwelling on the advertising market.

Over the next six months, the Indian market would see several other channels - from the Disney group, UTV's Hungama - being launched. The target audience: pre-school to college.

According to Misra, combining on-ground activities with on-air initiatives has paid off well for Cartoon Network and should for Pogo too, which is still in its early days. Events like Toon Cricket, Toon Yatra and now Toon Games have all proved to be 360-degree marketing activities that have yielded good dividends for the channel.

Pointing out that similar activities would be unveiled for Pogo too, Misra added, "At the moment, we are looking at introducing Hindi language in Pogo, which would be ramped up slowly." Telugu and Tamil continue to be other languages, apart from Hindi, which are attractive for Cartoon Network and Pogo.

At some later stage, according to Misra, Cartoon Network might also look at having separate feeds for countries like Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to attract local advertising.

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