UTV hopes kids channel creates Hungama

MUMBAI: Ronnie Screwvalas UTV Software Communications, which is launching a kids channel through its recently floated subsidiary United Home Entertainment (UHE), has finally homed in on a name  Hungama.

Detailing the funds route for Hungama, Screwvala said UHE proposed to raise Rs 750 million through private placement for which Lazard India had been appointed as fund managers. The remaining Rs 250 million would be equally shared between Screwvala himself and UTV (Rs 125 million each). Screwvala holds a majority 51 per cent stake in UHE while UTV holds the remaining 49 per cent equity.

Screwvala said UHE was on target as far as its proposed August launch of Hungama was concerned. Contentwise, the channel would be 90 per cent live action and only 10 per cent animation, Screwvala said.

As far as the distribution platform is concerned, UTV is talking to three players - Star, Sony and ESPN Star Sports. These three happen to be the same platforms that Disney is in talks with as well. The difference with Disney, however, is that it is in talks with Zee-Turner too. Information available with indicates that Disney will finalise its distribution partner by July.

As for Hungama, there are three distinct prime time bands that have been identified. The 9 am to 11 am slot is targeted at two-and-a-half to five-year-olds, the 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm band for 4 to 8-year-olds and the 4 pm to 7:30 pm slot for 8 to 16-year-olds.

Queried as to what would constitute the pre-schooler segment, he said it would be mainly muppet and puppet-based shows that would keep in mind educational requirements as well.

Screwvala says UHE finally settled on Hungama after shortlisting eight names. The name came up tops through polling among a sample group of 3,800 kids and 1,200 mothers from across 15 cities (13 Hindi-speaking, Hyderabad and Chennai).

Detailing the pre-launch promotional plans for Hungama, Screwvala said a 15-city roadshow would kick off end-May for a Hungama board hunt. One kid from each city would be chosen as a member of the board of the channel and would be responsible for routing feedback from their individual cities as to how kids were responding to the channel. Screwvala stressed that this was not some gimmick but what the kids had to say would be taken very seriously, so much so that every quarter the kids would represent their cities at the hungama board meeting.

The chosen 15 would have their own websites through which they would be interacting with other kids.

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