Television

'The focus for Nick in 2007 is to drive reach' : Nina Elavia Jaipuria - Nick India vice president & general manager

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While Viacom's smallest wonder, Nick India wants to be synonymous with fun and laughter, the network seems to have found the perfect fit in Nina Jaipura as a head for the channel. With 'all smiles' Jaipuria epitomizes the values that the channel stands for and bursts into sudden bouts of laughter as she describes her favourite shows on the channel like Bakkom, the funny bear, which she gladly advices her team to watch (even at work) to de-stress. Although, the channel entered the Indian terrain in 2000, there has been a singular lack of activity, but better late than never, the Nick team seems to have finally got their act together. In a free flowing conversation with Indiantelevsion.com's Renelle Snelleksz, Jaipuria outlines the game plan for Nick in India, and the efforts to sprint ahead in 2007.

Excerpts:

On recently assuming the position to spearhead operations at Nick, what strategy have you outlined to up its presence in India this year?

During the latter half of 2006, we made several programming and grid changes as well as modified content strategy to get our content right. We also made inroads into distribution and we are now No. 2 in distribution with about 42 per cent C&S connectivity in the country today. Following this we doubled our time spent by 110 minutes, similarly the market share of Nick also doubled from 6 to 12 per cent over 2006. Once all this fell into place we got a 'sticky' audience.

Having said that, the focus for 2007 is to drive reach for the channel because just having a sticky audience is not good enough, you need to increase the ratings. We will use this year to establish our brand and characters. Basically, it is a year for consolidation since we now have the content right and with distribution and promotion in place, now it's about driving reach.

How does the channel plan to implement awareness building initiatives?

The way we want to do this is through a 360 degree marketing approach and while we have our on-air presence and promotion we are also going to step outside the channel as well.

In fact, we started our marketing activities last year with the 'Masti Dosti' contest and the marketing campaign we did around it. It was about consolidating all the pieces and putting it together for the kids, so while we did school contact programmes, we also did cross channel promotions and even painted school buses with Nick themes. In addition, we did a lot of meet and greet sessions for kids, because it involves getting kids to learn about the characters. We are planning to continue to extensively use school contact programmes with our brand ambassadors SpongeBob and Patrick. In fact, we are also looking at bring Dora from Dora The Explora to India this year for our pre-schoolers.

By taking these characters into malls, multiplexes and getting them to run alongside kids during the Mumbai Marathon we wanted to give them a touch and feel experience as well as sample shows on the channel. That's how we intend to look at Nick in the way forward.

You will also see us across many other channels where kids are viewing other shows. We will have syndicated blocks and Nick advertising on Sony, Max, Zee and Zee Cinema. In addition, we are also into regional channels like an ETV Marathi or Zee Bangla. We are reaching out to kids through various means, as you have to touch them at their touch points.

In the kid's television space how will Nick differentiate itself from growing competition?

As a channel we stand apart from the rest and what differentiates us is that everything on our channel today is something that is going to make you laugh. We are a comedy destination and this is the stand we want to take forward.

The laughter quotient actually operates as a brand filter for all content that goes on our channel. The second aspect of our content is that it has to be appropriate in terms of being absolutely safe and completely non-violent. Therefore it goes through the gatekeeper, which is the mother and we have her trust as well. The content is also universal in terms of gender and is age appropriate catering to kids in the entire 4-14 age group.

Apart from this, we do have a message for younger kids as well, with the Nick Jr. block which is a mix of education and entertainment. It's about edutainment where you learn while you play and in which every story has a moral.

Nick has been a leader in international markets especially US and UK. However, it hasn't been able to deliver the same results in India despite its launch in 2000. Why so?

Well it's all about timing. The focus of the network is now on Nick which was not there earlier. We now have a core structure which is aligned to the business objectives of the channel. In fact we already saw it happening in the last quarter of 2006 and we will see more activity this year.

We will continue to create a loyal audience and keep delivering on content that has been adopted globally, which has placed us in the first and second position in most countries.

Why are Indian kids not yet hooked onto Nick, despite its seven year existence in India? Is it that they cannot relate to the content?

It's not about kids not liking the content on Nick, but more about kids not sampling the content on the channel because it's not been out there for them. Once we spread awareness, we will get kids hooked as the content will speak for itself.

'It's about how much we can do and how fast we can do it.'

Nickelodeon recently unveiled a virtual community playground 'Nicktropolis' - What about an interactive website for the channel in India?

We are also looking at launching a grand website for ourselves as what you see today is a very small portion of it. It will be very comprehensive, telling kids about the initiatives at Nick, it will have all the shows and characters and of course it will host several contests and games. It will give kids a chance to interact and play around with these characters.

In today's digital environment, is there effectiveness in reaching out to kids via the mobile phone?

I think this is a metro specific phenomena, as most kids have access to their parents' phones, so its still too early to say now, but it will definitely grow. Therefore, all our websites have a mobile SMS function for contests and activities. Once we believe that kids have direct access to this medium we will get onto downloads, ring tones and wall papers. We have already started with digital based products with the SpongeBob PC game.

Can we expect to see an expansion on the merchandise front?

We tied up with Bombay Dyeing for bed linen, a SpongeBob PC game has been developed and is available at Planet M, Dora the Explora apparel range has been unveiled and can be found in Landmark and Pyramid and a whole collection of party products in Big Bazaar and Hypercity.

We have also kicked off what is called a 'Nicksters Club' using a database, to send out monthly flyers via snail mail or email. Along with giving kids activities to do, it also announces their birthdays and sends out a little gift to them, which is nice gesture from the channel.

Apart from International acquisitions, do you think it's time to strengthen localized programming, a strategy that several other kids' channels have also adopted?

The strength of Nick lies in its pedigree and the of kind that has been produced for over 27 years in various countries. That content has proven itself across the world therefore we need to first optimize on the content that we already have. There is a lot of scope to bring that content to India, package it and give it an Indian flavour and then roll it out to kids.

While we may look at local productions sometime in the future, currently there is a great opportunity to cash in on the pedigree that exists with us. Kids are not really very culture specific, they are so universal in nature that everything works for them, and it's really how you deliver it.

Will the channel introduce any new shows?

Yes, in fact we will launch two acquired shows Tumoya Island and Meteor and The Mighty Monster Trucks on the pre- school block Nick Jr. this month.

Any plans to bring to Indian initiatives like 'Kids Lets Just Play' that encourage children to go outdoors and play or the 'Kids Choice Awards'?

It is just a matter of time, as the focus currently is to create a presence that will connect with kid's, activities such as these will then be a follow up. These are our own International properties and there is no reason why we will not bring them here. But there is still time for that, first we need to establish a larger viewer base.

What is the time line that has been set to achieve this?

My clock is already ticking! (She laughs) There is really no time line, it's about how much we can do and how fast we can do it. Like I said, the intent is there we just have make it happen.

Could you elaborate on the NDTV Media's role and some of their activities? Which new advertisers have been roped in and by how much has ad sales increased?

The last quarter has been good for us even in terms of ad sales, we put the infrastructure in place by outsourcing this to specialists like NDTV Media. They have helped us rope in four main new sponsors for SpongeBob Pakdra Pakdri contest including LIC as the main sponsors, co-presenting sponsors Maggi rice noodles Mania and associate sponsors Perfitti's Big Babool and Tata Sky. Britannia, Liberty Shoes and Zapak.com are a few more advertisers that joined in, so we look forward to a happy year on that front with a lot more brands joining us.

As for the ad sales increase, it would be an abnormal percentage to mention, as you could almost say we started from scratch, however we look forward to many more initiatives and NDTV is surely going to have its hands full.

Currently, what's the management structure like in terms of a marketing, content and creative team?

Under my stewardship I have a programming director - Anu Sikka, a marketing director - Shalu Wadhwa, on air promotions - Shuchita and a research director - Shatrupa Thakar and a team of about 18 youngsters.

What do you perceive as the way forward for a kid's broadcaster in the highly competitive scenario in India? What is the biggest challenge in catering to kids?

There is long way to go, we need to get to the top of the chain and that's the intent right now. The kid's category has always been dynamic and competition will continue to be there but there is definitely space for more players, giving more choice to the viewer.

The challenge lies in the fact that kids have a short attention span so if you don't capture them in the wink of an eye you might as well not at all. At any point of time if the child is surfing channels, you should be able to grab his attention, therefore everything that you put on your grid of the channel makes a huge difference.

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