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Digitisation the potential game changer for kids TV

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The Mayans got it wrong and thankfully so!

As we bid adieu to the Year of the Dragon, India has already added approx. 30 million children to its burgeoning population of 330 million kids. Thanks to the growing population, there has been an explosion in demand for kids’ specific products and services, not to mention their need for entertainment. Hence avenues of entertainment multiplied and kids TV not only witnessed growth but also saw new offerings.

The children’s appetite to be entertained continued to be insatiable. Kids broadcasters rose to the occasion to fulfil this need with tailor made offerings. Animation continued to rule the roost as it is timeless and transports children to an alternate world of escapism and fantasy, which live actions shows are challenged with. The Indian animation industry came of age with locally produced content. The highlight has been the development of original and endearing characters and content like Motu Patlu, Keymon Ache etc which have made great inroads into the category.

Comedy, Action and Value Based shows continued to be the category drivers. Bollywood went on to have a huge influence on children, which also got mirrored in the shows. Characters kept to rule the hearts of kids and were larger than the channels that carried them. Hence 3-4 shows based on these characters continued to garner the maximum GRPs.

Kids continued to shape the buying patterns of their families. From vacation choices to car purchases to meal selections, they exerted tremendous power over the family pocketbook. While kids are almost in- house consultants, marketers and broadcasters have been very mindful while communicating with them.

With 8% - 9% genre share, the kids genre is the 4th largest viewed in CS4+; larger than news and music (the word ‘Niche’ used traditionally to categorise the kids genre should be termed ‘Special Interest’). Within 4-14 years itself, it is the second largest genre with 23% share, second only to GECs. The 4-9-year-olds remained being the loyal viewers. 10-14 years remain the flirtatious/closet watchers. The category viewership continued to be driven by boys while the girls indulged in kitchen politics.

Despite many players in the category, over 70% viewership was concentrated within the top 4 players. Despite all the fragmentation, the category has grown by 5% CAGR in the last 5 years.

Challenges

While the kids genre contributes 8% viewership share of the CS4+, it accounts for a mere 2% ad revenue share. Hence there is a huge potential for growth and this has to get corrected over a period of time through rate correction and non FCT partnerships. While pester power plays a role in brand purchases (candies, chocolates, biscuits, toys etc.), the control of the purse strings are still with the parents. Parents are not the primary audience for kids channels (while there is co-viewing but the level of viewer engagement is low) and hence advertisers are not paying premium dollars.

Multiple Entrants - The fragmentation in the kids category is increasing by the day with over a dozen national players existing currently. This has led to the viewership and share of the revenue pie being divided between the players. The challenge the genre faces is on generating revenue beyond spots and that is something the category needs to seriously introspect. Over reliance on FCT to generate top line and over supply of inventory has led to spot rates being depressed.

Marketing to Kids - Kids as an audience are a tough bunch to target. They barely consume print and outdoor. A large chunk of the marketing investment is on BTL activities such as School Contact Programmes, retail activation and direct consumer contact using multiple on-round vehicles which have an extremely high cost per contact. The wired kid of today is more tech savvy than his parents. The dependence on the digital and online medium is fast increasing.

2013 - Trends & Roadmap

Digitisation will be a game-changer in 2013. We are already witnessing the benefits of the 1st phase of the rollout. This has benefited not only the consumers (more channel offerings and of superior quality) but also broadcasters.

Digitisation will give an impetus to ‘special interest’ channels and hence create space for broadcasters to create categories to address specific need gaps, like Sonic, the Action Adventure channel for boys or Nick Jr., the play-and-learn platform for pre-schoolers. Digitisation will go a long way in better ROIs and hence better business models for television.

Lines across platforms & screens will blur further in 2013. Content consumption will become increasingly platform agnostic. Kids content creators will now make their content and characters available to kids across platforms, be it TV, Computers, Tablets or Phones.

As Indian animation comes of age and more home grown characters (not just mythological ones) are developed, Indian animation will make a mark on the global map as it moves from being an outsourcing industry to an original content creator with Shows like Shaktiman, Chhota Bheem, etc. that can travel overseas.

The “Touch.Play.Feel” mantra will take on a whole new dimension. Most kids broadcasters will be aiming to move beyond Television and form a Kids Ecosystem. Broadcasters may leverage their platform strength and influential characters to create interesting Entertainment offshoots beyond television. Consumer Products, Theme Parks, Retail Stores, etc. may be the next BIG opportunity for broadcasters.

So let me leave you with the thought that this TG is a formidable one and will keep the marketers and broadcasters on their toes. Kids broadcasters will need to continuously re-invent themselves to stay relevant to this ever evolving and dynamic bunch of consumers.

2013 will be an exciting year with lots to look forward to. Wish everyone a very successful and profitable year!

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