interview with Disney UTV executive director and Disney
kids network business head Vijay Subramaniam
will post robust double digit growth'
on 23 June 2012
kids television market in India is a tough nut to crack.
Disney UTV executive director and Disney kids network
business head Vijay Subramaniam, however, believes that
the brand-driven media conglomerate has got the right
formula to break the nut.
of the channels have succeeded to penetrate the ratings.
Disney Channel houses its global brands like Mickey
Mouse and is growing these franchises. Hungama is a
fun-filled channel and works on Japanese anime content.
The Walt Disney Company India is now pulling its resources
behind Disney XD to make the comedic action channel
popular in the Hindi speaking markets.
company's strategy is two-fold: offer a wide spread
of content that entertains not just kids but also the
family; support this with strong activation to connect
directly with the TG through multiple touch points.
challenge is to expand the advertising revenue which
is pegged at Rs 2.5 billion. The genre is under indexed
and the growth in audiences is not translating to a
corresponding increase in advertising monies.
is waiting for digitisation to develop other genres
that will yield more subscription revenues. The company
is determined to find potential in live action and has
three shows in development stage. Local animation is
another genre that it wants to explore actively. The
superhero genre is also to be exploited as an opportunity.
an interview with Indiantelevision.com's
Subramaniam talks about the potential the kids genre
has amid tough revenue challenges.
What is the challenge the kids broadcasting genre faces
Some of the challenges that existed earlier even
prevail today. Distribution, for instance, was a hard
game to play when we launched in 2007. That situation
continues and India is still one of the most expensive
markets to procure distribution. So that definitely
is a challenge. But we hope things will better with
challenge that has stuck around is that the kids market
is highly under indexed. You can take a five year trend
and you will find it is still under indexed, despite
the fact that viewership on kids channels have grown
overall. Its a Rs 2.5-2.7 billion ad market. If
you take the viewership, the total number of GRPs in
2007 was about 400-450 and currently its at about
700 GRPs. Every year this has been one genre that has
added consistent growth, but it stays under indexed.
Is that because the genre is highly fragmented?
The question that advertisers need to ask is where
the quality of viewership is and are they leveraging
it. Going by the science of the marketplace, I dont
think advertisers have still realised the full potential
of this audience.
What could be done to overcome this hurdle?
There are three things that we consistently do
from a Disney kids networks standpoint and we
believe its increasingly giving us returns. One
is to have entertainment content that is completely
family inclusive with the kid at the centre of it.
every single marketing activity that we have undertaken
as a network has driven a very strong engagement value
building loyalty through several intangibles. These
become the talking points for advertisers and, more
importantly, it deepens the relationship between the
consumer and the channel. Take Jet Set Go as an example.
We got six million entries from across the country and
the best thing is that the contest was completely driven
through Disney channels without cricket and Bollywood.
we are constantly engaged in educating the advertising
fraternity of the increase in value that the kids centric
family brings. Yes, thats a long journey to cover
still. But the fact is that new categories of advertisers
are walking in. Kids channels reach about 85 per cent
of the genres universe.
are the leading kids network with 43 per cent share
and we bring the power of terrific story telling through
our franchises. The activations that we do are pretty
wholesome and these are things that can be easily leveraged
for value by brands. Having said that, it is a very
competitive marketplace. And I dont see enough
attention being given to this segment when people strategise.
So in an ideal situation what should be the size of
the ad revenue market considering the audience delivery?
That would be a hard one to say. I am of the view that
brands that invest in kids channels should have a long-term
view of building partnerships. We in Disney believe
in evolving with the consumer and its important
that brands demonstrate similar partnerships and evolve
with us as we evolve with consumers. To illustrate a
point, the engagement that we brought with Jet Set Go
is something that money cant possibly buy. Just
imagine 33 families coming together and nobody knowing
each other as they set out to experience the whole thing
together at Disneyland. So these kinds of opportunities
can be created by us. Its more of a strategy that
is driving this investment as opposed to asking Can
you spend a little more? Its not just about
how you spend; its about how much you are staying
invested with this important target audience.
segment that we are going to drive as an opportunity
as well as a strategy is the superhero genre.
We have got the Marvel Universe premiering on
Disney XD. Thats our first foray and we
have got Marvel as a part of Disney'
Disney has been positioning itself as family entertainment
channel. Do you think that works when you have to compete
in the kids genre?
The kids channel label is what prevents us from
looking at family as a unit. If you look at it from
the lens of a television professional, then thats
a limitation. But if you look at consumers in general
and brand Disney in particular, we are a family entertainment
channel worldwide. There are enough adults who buy Disney
merchandise and then there is Disneyland which will
give you an indication of just how big the Disney brand
we are a young brand in India and we have not been here
as long as the brand has been in other countries. But
that said Disney stands for family entertainment. Secondly,
if you look at consumers, they have at least one meal
together and even as we live individualistic lives,
the meaning of family is still very strong. We believe
that Disney is a brand that provides the environment
for families to come together. Yes, its kids centric
but its something that is enjoyed by the family.
And we believe that we have some of the best family
But isnt it still animation that works for kids
Agreed that animation is the staple diet for all
kids channels. But it does not for a minute mean that
the two cannot co-exist. In fact, there should be a
healthy balance of the two.
will continue to invest on live action and we are very
clear that we want to make it work. Ok, let me change
the perspective and ask the same question about Satyamev
Jayate. When you bring in a new format in a new slot,
you will have people who will be very enthusiastic and
supportive and there will be people who will be at the
fence. As leaders, it is important to bring these new
formats to the country. We have to drive it in a manner
that Indian audiences find it most entertaining and
relevant. We started with live action two years ago
with Ishaan and we have three shows under development
stage now. We genuinely believe that this is an added
dimension for both kids and their families.
action is fun but it is harder to do. We are fortunate
that we have the repertoire of successful stories that
have been scripted and aired successfully internationally.
is the ratio between live action and animation on Disney
Its between 15-19 per cent with just two shows
- Suite Life of Karan and Kabir and Best of Luck Nikki.
What is your content strategy for the three channels?
Any specific genres that you are planning to experiment
One segment that we have identified clearly is live
action. Its very rich and is something to which
we are committed strategically and financially; we are
going to drive that to build significant volume for
see huge opportunity in preschool content and have ambitious
plans for it. Frankly, its a function of right
timing because it cant be driven using the ad
sales model. This is a far younger audience and requires
a lot more responsibility in managing it. This is one
genre we would like to explore once we see where this
digitisation piece is moving.
third genre that we want to play a role in is local
animation. Indian animation has come a long way and
we believe that there are lots of dimensions that are
still to be explored. A day in the life of a kid is
also an opportunity to explore much more; it doesnt
necessarily need to be mythology. So thats the
piece we are keen on.
is something which is at the heart of everything we
do. It is another interesting genre, but the challenge
is how do we do so because development in some of these
things is very difficult to do in an environment that
is not necessarily seen as an opportunity through the
eyes of the kid.
action and adventure is an interesting genre that we
are going to contribute significantly in.
the segment that we are going to drive as an opportunity
as well as a strategy is the superhero genre. We have
got the Marvel Universe premiering on Disney XD with
Spiderman and Iron Man-Armored adventures on Saturday.
Thats our first foray and we have got Marvel as
a part of Disney. There are interesting stories to be
built around them.
are the top five franchises that you are looking to
We are looking to build Mickey Mouse, one of the
most loved Disney characters across the world. We have
the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior which has
emerged as the most popular block for kids. Just to
give you a perspective, our record breaking Jet Set
Go Campaign, which saw a total of 6 million responses
from across the country, has been supported by Mickey
Mouse and Friends. We are wrapping an entire Boeing
with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Daisy
for the very first time in Asia and this plane will
take on the domestic skies from 9 July.
we have Princesses A total of 10 Princesses,
which is growing in popularity in India. We have showcased
Princess Movies such as Cinderella and Snow White in
the Magical World on the Disney block. Most of these
have been premieres on Indian television and the response
has truly encouraging.
and Ferb is Disneys most successful animated series
in India. The recently launched series of Phineas and
Fern has consistently been performing for us, delivering
an average of 1 TVR.
the coming months, we will be showcasing some very exciting
movies on Winnie the Pooh. We are launching a whole
new series of Winnie the Pooh in July with new outings
featuring Pooh and the whole gang in the 100 Acre Wood.
we have got another Doraemon movie coming up and hopefully
in the coming weeks we will be able to announce two
new live action series which will probably air on the
channel between October and February. With Disney XD
we are launching Marvel Universes next week.
are Disney Channel, Hungama and Disney XD positioned?
Disney Channel is the home of Disney brand and everything
it stands for. All the Disney franchises are housed
under this channel. Micky Mouse Clubhouse, Winny the
Pooh and Phineas and Ferbs will be championed by Disney
Channel as will the live action production that I spoke
of - Suite Life of Karan and Kabir, Best of Luck Nikki
and Art Attack (an art and craft show).
Hungama is a brand aimed at the 4-14-year-olds. It is
a total unbridled fun channel, so Japanese anime is
the content expression there.
Disney XD is an action and comedic brand channel targeting
boys in the age group of 8-14 years.
Hasnt Disney XD been the weak link in your network?
I would say Disney XD required the maximum amount
of work among the three channels that we have in India.
We have got Disney Channel and Hungama sitting pretty
but our work is not finished yet. We have to stay on
top of the live action game, something that I keep emphasising
on. It has to be truly entertaining because that is
what differentiates Disney from other entertainment
products. Hungama is going to stay fun and enjoyable.
Disney XD, we are sure we will be able to take it to
the position the other two are in. Thats really
the game plan.
What direction are you going to give Disney XD?
Disney XD is a channel that has traditionally done
well in the South and HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) was
not a focus area. We are at a stage where we are going
to focus a lot of our resources on Disney XD to make
it strong in the HSM. We have made encouraging beginnings
but we have a long way to go. We are pretty confident
of reaching there. Prior to January, we were 30 odd
GRPs, which is really nothing. But currently we hold
about 60 GRPs on an average and are confident that it
will be a 100+ GRP channel in the coming months, given
that we have a whole lot of initiatives planned to give
it the push.
What are the growth projections for Disney network?
I am not at liberty to share financials, but they
are robust double digit numbers. The growth will be
delivered by consistency of performance due to high
quality programming and a discerning advertiser who
is placing a premium on both brand value as well as
consistency. As far as break-up of revenues is concerned,
its 50-50 for us between distribution and ad revenue.
Licensing and merchandising is a separate business altogether.
How important is new media in the scheme of things?
New media in most media companies is an extension
of the linear product. But for us its a full-fledged
digital universe onto itself. Disney is a unique brand
that tells great stories and then disseminates them
through as many platforms and environments as possible.
have Disney Interactive Media Group. Like Disney Consumer
Products, it is a separate company altogether that works
across the length and breadth of the digital universe.
When we did the Princess movie festival on the channel,
we also built a game on mobile and they then fed it
to over 7-8 million consumers. So thats the scale
we can build for our stories across platforms.
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