Pogo to be 80 per cent Hindi by year-end

MUMBAI: If you want to capture the kids segment effectively, then you have to speak in a language that they understand best.

Realising this Pogo from the Turner stable will have 80 per cent of its content in Hindi by the end of the year. At present, the channel has 40 per cent of its content in Hindi.

Speaking to this morning, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia senior VP and GM Ian Diamond said dubbing had been a gradual process for the channel.

The first phase of Hindi programming commenced on 26 July with shows such Oswald, Kipper, Make Way for Noddy, and Thomas The Tank Engine dubbed in Hindi.

Since 20 August, Hindi content increased to more than nine hours daily with shows such as Beakman's World, Alf, Sitting Ducks, Round The Twist, Walking With Franchise, Looney Tunes, Two Of A Kind, The Sleepover Club, amongst many others, being available in Hindi.

While Cartoon Network already has a separate Hindi feed rival, Nickelodeon from the Viacom stable went desi in April by introducing a 12- hour Hindi feed. This was then extended to 15 and a half hours.

Turner had launched Pogo exclusively for India in January 2004 to serve the tween market better and have general entertainment for kids that went beyond cartoons.

"Within six months of launching Pogo, we have Cartoon Network as number one and Pogo as a clear number two. It has gone ahead of the competition (read Nick) which already existed. The important thing is that Pogo has not eaten into Cartoon Network's share which has not decreased. In fact, there has been a 35 per cent aggregate growth in viewership across both channels. Another important factor is that the two channels complement each other. I do not like to think of them as separate entities.."

Diamond claimed that Pogo had managed to achieve distribution reach of 17 million homes. Cartoon Network has a reach of 22 million homes. Online the site gives fans information about shows. "Our aim is to integrate the brand into the lives of viewers and to do this you have to speak in different languages whether it is on or off air. "

As far as localising content on the channel is concerned, Diamond, while not being specific, said that several of the channel's international shows were being looked at for possibilities of an Indian version.

"We are currently doing research and should be ready to make an announcement next year. We believe in the two kings - content and creativity. For both channels, the local content needs to have soul. Cartoon Network has acquired eight local shows in the past including Jungle Tales and Tenali Ram. India has a rich storytelling heritage. Animation is a natural medium to bring these stories to life. I also have no hang ups about bringing animation shows from other Asian countries to Cartoon Network in India as long as they meet our quality standard," he said.

Pogo, meanwhile, has had success with films like Harry Potter. "We are encouraged by the ratings that Harry Potter got. At the same time I don't believe that content should be either fully localised or fully international."

"Just having international content does not mean that you will have all the viewer connects. At the same time you do not say no to Harry Potter just because it was not made in India."

On the marketing side of things Diamond stated that Toon Cricket would certainly be back next year. "We also feel that it is very important to integrate the kids into our lifestyle by giving them a strong sense of ownership. That is the logic behind the Amazing kids Awards on Pogo."

As far as advertising is concerned, Diamond added that Pogo had seen an encouraging response not just from kids brands. "With Pogo and Cartoon Network we have been able to convince advertisers that kids play a big role in the buying process. "

"For Cartoon Network we have managed a 48 per cent year- on-year growth. Nearly 30 per cent of our revenues come from non-traditional clients. The success that we have achieved has indicated to other people (read Animax, Hungama TV) that this is a good business that has great growth potential."

Talking about the future scenario in the kids genre in India, Diamond added, "What you will see is kids moving away from general entertainment channels that have content that is not really meant for them. They will spend increasingly more time on kids channels. So there is certainly space for new entrants to grow the market. At last kids television in India is coming of age. Other players are picking up the gauntlet and entering the market."

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