Television

'We are the second stickiest channel in the category today' : Nina Elavia Jaipuria - Nick India VP and GM

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Driving Nick India from a market share of a mere 9 per cent to 18 per cent has been a phenomenal journey for Nick India VP and GM Nina Elavia Jaipuria. The eight-year old kids' channel got its act together last year and since then there has been no looking back. After years of relative reticence, popular characters Spongebob, Ninja and Perman are lifting the channel up.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Richa Dubey, Jaipuria reveals what strategy worked for Nick and how she plans to grow the kids' channel in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

Excerpts:

Nick has taken its channel share from 9 per cent in January 2007 to 18 per cent by the year-end. What has led to this fast growth?

There was no fixed mantra but just a few insights which helped us get to the position where we are now. To feel the pulse of the kids, we built a connect with them, Indianised the channel and went beyond traditional TV.

Everything done on the channel was done in a fashion to connect with kids - right from the way we packaged our shows, to dubbing and selecting the content, and scripting them.

We have been very innovative in marketing our channel. We add an Indian flavour to whatever we do. For example, we celebrated festivals like Janmashtami by putting slime in the handi. We did Holi with Holi flash.

While every channel in the genre is trying to do the same, how did you ensure to look different?

Our first effort was to Indianise the channel and that worked wonders for us. It helped us in building affinity with kids.

We interacted with kids more and more. We were no more a passive channel that they used to watch. We became a regular destination for them. We built a bond with the child and at every point of time the kid could have a dialogue with us through IVRS, SMS or through our website. There were initiatives like "Bhoot Aya," "Chaddhi Buddy," etc. which kept the kids engaged.

In 12 months, we did some 19 initiatives. This means that at any given point of time, a kid could actually interact with us.

Nick was perceived to be a very western channel. Wasn't that a hindrance in getting the kids' eyeballs?

Yes, for a while, Nick was thought of as a very western channel with shows that were international. We acquired shows from the Asian territory and Indianised them. Shows like Perman, Munnabhai, Ninja Hatori. were Asian and brought a lot of Indianness on the channel.

How interactive was Nick with kids?

Interactivity is not just about interacting but about having a lot of fun. A lot of ideas were out of the box. Through initiatives like "Chaddhi Buddy," where we ran a contest, we took best friends Spongebob and Patrick to the winner. Several other initiatives like Lot Pot, Pakda Pakdi, Masti Dosti, Chak De Ninja wih Ajay Jadeja or Gift Mangta, etc. helped us build the connect. Fundoo Star was another very innovative initiative whereby we got the kids on the TV.

Engagement is very important as it keeps kids away from the remote. Our programming was such that it made them not to surf in and out of the channel, and made it very sticky for the kids. Following this, channel stickiness grew by 40 per cent. We are the second stickiest channel in the category today.

What was the 360-degree approach you adopted?

The other thing was enhancing the connection with a 360-degree approach. We went to places where kids were present. If they were watching general entertainment channels (GEC), then we had our ads on the GECs so that we got noticed by our TG and their parents. We promoted ourselves on the channel which families and kids together watched. We had promotions running across shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs, Voice of India and Boogie Woogie, which are popular among kids and families.

We also did a lot of activities in shopping malls and schools. Nick went beyond TV and made it tangible. Kids could touch and feel their favourite characters, and that is the ultimate thing for them.

Today it is all about viral and word of mouth. We also went on to retail our properties across various categories - apparels, story boards, PC games, water bottles, etc. Nick characters also appeared in Diamond Comics.

'We would utilise our foreign library first and only then would we get into local content'

In terms of programming, how have you distinguished yourself from the other channels?

As a kids' broadcaster, it is important to realise that kids come to TV for relief. They want to be away from teachers and parents through Nick. We are a clean and responsible broadcaster. Within the genre, we offer a variety of programming. Our shows have slapstick comedy and silent humour, and even if there is a little action, it only adds to the humour.

We realised that movies are a big source of entertainment for kids. So we launched "Nick Home Cinema" which has so far done very well.

Could you please elaborate on your summer line-up?

A new show Niender will kick off on 21 April. We also have a couple of new movies like Dinotopia and Under the Black Flag.

We will show an entirely new series of Ninja Hatori and Perman which will be aired back to back. We are also planning interactive stuff around Mother's Day which falls on 11 May.

Like others in the genre, do you also have plans to foray into local content production?

Kids' content knows no boundaries. We have such a huge library worldwide and it has been popular. We would utilise it first and only then would we get into local content. It is just a matter of time. There is a lot of content still to be exploited. Until we have utilised all of that, I don't think we will go ahead and manufacture it.

Do you think that frequent channel launches are affecting the kids' genre?

No, not at all. In fact, the genre has grown and it's all due to the offerings of the other channels. A kid does not want to watch a GEC. S/he needs to be given something different.

There has been an increase in kids viewership. Kids are continuously getting enticed by the channel offerings. GECs do not focus on kids at all. The more focused and customised the offerings, the better is the growth of the category.

Moreover, pester power is also influencing parents to let kids spend more time in front of TV.

How much has passive viewership helped the channel?

The trend is slowly changing. It's now parents spending more time with kids on the kids' channels. Kids' programmes are very inclusive so the parents can also watch along with their kids. A lot of co-viewing is happening.

Advertisers are taking advantage of that?

Pester power and passive viewership have helped the channels in terms of advertisements. A lot of FMCGs, insurance and telecom brands have started advertising on kids' channels. None of these directly target kids, but they obviously understand that co-viewing is happening.

We ourselves started with 17 brands and now we have around 80 on board.

Even GECs show kids' programmes during weekends. Do you see that spoiling your Sunday line-up of shows?

I would not deny that anything that is catering to a kid is a threat to us. Kids are not channel loyal; they are programme loyal. A kid watches a particular channel because of the show. The fact is that there is a lot of scope in kids, and so GECs are catering to them. Kids will watch a good film on any channel. But as a core kids' broadcaster, we provide a complete 360-degree experience to the kids. We have our own set of marketing initiatives which make us stand apart.

How do you ensure that Nick reaches to kids beyond TV in tier-2 cities?

We normally try and reach cities in the Hindi speaking markets (HSM). We select key cities in UP, MP, Rajshthan and other parts in north India such as cities like Badodara, Surat, Ajmer, Jaipur, Allahabad, Varanasi and few others.

We are available to around 24 million C&S homes.

Do you have any plans to expand in the southern market?

Our audio feed is available in English. We will consolidate our presence in HSM and only then explore the southern market. In Chennai, we are available in Cas (conditional accesss system) homes.

We have syndicated some of our shows like Dora-the Explorer and Avtaar to Sun Network's Chutti TV. We also have a tie-up with Jet Airways, who play our shows on the flights.

Is there an increase in ad sales during vacations?

Yes, there is but not much as it is seasonal. As far as viewership is concerned, vacation-watching contributes 20 per cent of the channel's total audiences.

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