'We will build on our global franchises and get other local content to create an environment for ratings' : Antoine Villeneuve- Walt Disney TV International (India) SVP & MD

The Walt Disney Company acquired Hungama TV in 2006 for $30.5 million, a sign that two of its global channels needed a local muscle to fight the might of Turner International in the kids TV turf in India.

The Cartoon Network-Pogo duo still lead the space as the mouse house is busy finding the right content mix for its three channels. Disney Channel is positioned as a kids-driven family channel while Hungama TV is eyeing kids in the 4-14 years age group. Jetix is for the 6-10-year-old boys.

The challenge for Disney is not just to gain more audiences but also to drive up revenues in a genre that is seeing slow growth.

In an interview with's Anindita Sarkar, Walt Disney Television International (India) senior vice president and managing director Antoine Villeneuve talks about the need to build on Disney's global franchises while filling in the other pieces of content without disturbing the brand values.


Disney Channel has failed to make a mark in India, as is evident from the ratings. What are the corrective steps you are taking?

Our task is to build on our global franchises and get other local content to create an environment for ratings. But all this has to fit into the 'Disney' brand values.

Being a kids-driven family channel, we have had to add other pieces of content. For the first time ever, we have moved ahead to acquire Bollywood content to draw in more eyeballs. We have bought two Aamir Khan movies, Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, which will be showcased on 12 April and 3 May.

The core focus of the channel, however, is the tween segment (8-12 age group) and to increase penetration we have made the channel available in Hindi as well. We are building all the necessary bricks, but staying within the essence of the brand and the positioning of the channel.

Which are the franchises you are maximising your investments on?

Hanna Montana is appearing as a marketing phenomenon in India. She is on the path of a big success and we are taking her to the next level. We are increasing the 'touch points' with her so that kids can get more engaged. She appears in season 3 on 10 April and we are organising the 'Big Pop Star' event in India wherein the winning star will get a chance to meet Hanna. We also have a few more on ground marketing plans for Hanna to bring the character closer to the Indian kids.

The Hanna Montana movie releases in May which is sure to have a great impact on building the brand value of this franchise in India.

The other big property we are building is High School Musical. We are giving it a bigger dimension as season 4 kicks off soon.

Why are ratings coming only from the locally acquired live action content?

There has been an effect on ratings, but when it comes to a brand connect with the kids it is with our franchise properties. The best example of this is Hanna Montana. Our endeavour is to build a localised experience through Hanna Montana and our other properties. We have succeeded in this.

How have you positioned Hungama TV after acquiring it from UTV?

The three channels that we have are positioned separately and do not cannibalise audiences from each other. Hungama TV is transmitted only in Hindi and is positioned as a mad-comedy and fun channel devoted to the 4-14-year-olds. Also, its content is mainly driven by Japanese animation.

The channel has slipped from its top position. How do you plan to revamp it?

We are creating three new bands from 13 April. We have acquired two live action shows, Hatim from Star and Dharam Veer from NDTV Imagine. We will be introducing them under the action band, Dum Powder.

The Trouble Soda band will feature shows such as Doraemon and Ninjaboy Rantaro while Fun Gas will showcase Shinchan and Asari Chan.

Hungama TV will have all new shows this summer and the three bands will play on the theme 'Mad fun with Adventure.' We will also launch the mega summer contest - the Indian Pyjama League - on the channel, starting 11 May.

On the movie front, we will be showing titles such as Andaz Apna Apna and Fantiastic 4 this summer.

'kids GRPs are undervalued in other markets as well. More marketing solutions have to be offered and advertisers have to realise the real worth of the kids segment'

Jetix has been more successful in the south. What are you doing to elevate its status in the north?

Of the two global channels, Jetix is a more defined channel as it has only action adventure content and is targeted at only boys between the age-group of 6-10. We have made it available in four languages - English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. We are happy that it is faring well in the south and have no plans to make special efforts to push it in the north as we have our other two channels to address the Hindi speaking markets.

How do you plan to beef up your summer lineup this year?

Apart from showing Bolywood films, we will be exploiting our own classics from the Disney library. The channel will feature titles such as Return to Neverland, Atlantis: Milo's return, Mulan, 101 Dalmations 2 and Secret of the Magic Gourd. All these will be featured on the Disney channel. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's chest will premiere for the first time in Hindi on 5 April.

We will also be launching brand new shows on Disney such as Wizards of Waverly Place, Sony with a chance, Imagination Movers and Aaron Stone. Aaron Stone will launch on 15 May and will be the story of Aaron, a master in video gaming. Summers will also see the second season of Mickey Mouse Club House (MMCH).

For Jetix, we are launching the 'Spectacular Superhero Summer Operation'. Under this brand, we will have all new superhero shows ( Zoran/ World of Quest/Ratman/ Power Rangers RPM).

We will also carry new episodes of Hero, Detective Conan and Inspector Gadgets. Furthermore, we will show various martial arts and action adventure movies such as George of the Jungle 2, Hulk and X men.

Why is the revenue from kids TV not proportionate to its audience share?

The kids GRPs are undervalued in other markets as well. More marketing solutions have to be offered and advertisers have to realise the real worth of the kids segment. In India this is evolving and we are already seeing new categories such as financial services, FMCG and digital stepping in as advertisers.

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