Big brawl in the kids arena

what‘s the next big thing on television? The response comes from a rather discerning bunch of little champions, kid‘s channels as a category have seen an exponential growth over the year, as 2005 saw this genre close at a 10 per cent genre share (Period: Jan - Dec 05 ; All India, TG: CS 4yrs-14yrs).

The story this year seems to suggest that the whole category is heading further North, with the previous quarter (July, August, September 2006) clocking 15 per cent genre share.


July - Sep 06

Jan- June 06
Jan- Dec 05
Kids‘ genre share

Genre Share (%) of Kids‘ Channels

TG: CS 4yrs-14yrs

Market: All India

Within this arena and from an all India perspective, the latest TAM data of third quarter results seem to indicate that all of the players are experiencing an upward trend except for the two from the Turner stable, which have slipped somewhat as their rivals upped their collective acts. However, Turner continues to be in the lead, with Toon Disney, which is rocking in the South, following closely behind.

Channel / Year Jul-06 Aug-06 Sep-06
Cartoon Network
Toon Disney
Hungama TV
Disney Channel

Relative Shares (%) of Kids‘ Channels

TG: CS 4yrs-14yrs

Market: All India

When slicing the kid‘s category and looking more specifically at the HSM segment, which is a core market for most players, the same is applicable. Cartoon Network reigns supreme but sibling Pogo appears to be battling it out with potential challenger for the pole position Hungama TV.


Some industry observers are of the opinion that this is a landmark quarter, marking the beginning of the end of the dominance Turner has enjoyed all these years, as the carpet is being laid for other players to enter the fray. Data no doubt indicates that other players are slowly eating into the pie. Whether this is a one-off phenomena or will change the course of events for the category as a whole is yet to be determined though.

What will be under close scrutiny is whether this will create an upheaval that may trickle into the fourth quarter of the year. But with the combination of Disney Channel, Toon Disney, which is the clear leader in the South and Hungama TV (for whom its only a matter of time before it comes under Disney‘s wing), does pose a deadly combination. Also, given the benefits that Toon Disney‘s experiment with local feeds in the South have brought to the network, it won‘t be a surprise to see Disney Channel also tread the same localization path in due course.

However, the first international kids channel to touch Indian shores and long time leader Cartoon Network, asserts it is not threatened at all by all that is happening in its wake. Says Turner International India vice president advertising sales and networks (India & South Asia) Monica Tata, "When there‘s a successful, dominant player in the market, competition is a natural progression of a dynamic business model. Having blazed a successful trail in the kids‘ entertainment segment, it is only natural for others to see the potential. However, having said that, our biggest competitor is not other kids‘ channels, but ourselves. We are continually striving to raise the bar, build on our success, and continue to innovate and improve our array of matchless content that we offer to the discerning Indian viewer.

"We believe it is not about shifting or changing strategies to meet competition, but to continually assess and anticipate what the audience wants and deliver in accordance with their viewing needs. As the market place changes, we will respond rapidly to the changing market dynamics. If you don‘t, then you will be left behind!"

All said and done, the kids category is experiencing dynamic nationwide growth and capitalising on this are advertisers that see it as a worthwhile proposition to hop on board.

Walt Disney Television International (India) director marketing and communication Tushar Shah states that currently the network has roped in 155 advertisers. Says Shah, "With the kids arena exploding, more players coming into the fray, in addition to the market growth, there are now more options available to advertisers to address kids predisposed in their own environment."

Counters Tata, "Cartoon Network and Pogo enjoy a lion‘s share of the advertising pie in the kids‘ television genre. We have witnessed consistent increase in ad sales revenue over the years with top International and Indian brands advertising their products and services on our channels. Moreover, both Cartoon Network and Pogo, through their leadership in reach and viewership, have also partnered with every major kids‘ marketer and several non-traditional clients like BPCL, ING-Vyasa, All-Out, Citibank, Bombay Dyeing, Red Label, amongst many others."

"Seeing this phenomenal growth in viewership, we believe there is still tremendous scope for advertisers to further increase their ad spends in the kids‘ genre. Cartoon Network and Pogo‘s ad sales have witnessed a 24 per cent combined growth over Jan-Sep 05 to Jan-Sep 06. The client base of Pogo grew nearly by 50 per cent from 2004 to 2005 with 56 new clients added in 2005. These include, TVS Motors, ICICI Bank, HDFC Standard Life (Insurance), McFills," she adds.

Apart from the traditional advertisers, several non-traditional players are also eying this option as a favourable one. Along with some of the prominent advertisers on Nick like Coca Cola, and Nestle, another strategic tie-up with the mother network Viacom sees Microsoft advertising on the channel. MTV Networks India director - Communications and Consumer products Sandeep Dahiya alludes, "This deal has given way to Viacom Brand Solutions which offers multiple integrated solutions, promoting the latest gaming console Xbox 360 on all three channels of the network. In line with this, Nick‘s show with sci-fi kid Jimmy Neutron has an Xbox segment where he provides tips on gaming."

Commenting on the pen brand categories that did not previously favour kids as a target as they would primarily use pencils, Hungama TV Senior VP marketing and communication Siddharth Roy said, "Presently we have close to 120 brands on board, out of which pens include Linc Pens, Add Pens, Cello Pens, and Reynolds. Predominantly pens did not advertise in the kid‘s space."

He added, "Reliance Infocomm first ad in the kid‘s space, Teleshopping category: a first in the kid‘s space. In the Entertainment category: all Hindi, English movies advertise on Hungama TV. It was also the first to bring in Hindi Movies to the kids space. The real significant victory for the kids space is the diversity of clients willing to experiment on it from FMCG, to banks, to insurance to telecom, to Hindi movie promos to other mass TV channels like Set, Sahara."

On non-traditional advertisers rationale for entering kids space, Kapur says that kids pester power now shifts to contributing to the purchasing decision in the household, which is why marketers are looking at kids space to advertise.

"Advertisers at large recognises kids as an extremely important category within the family and therefore, be it cars, white goods, household items, etc, are also indirectly targeted at kids. The lines between a traditional and non-traditional advertiser have blurred.

"Cartoons as brand ambassadors are gaining as much popularity as film and cricket stars! Today, an ICICI, BPCL or even an All-Out want to sign on a Tom and Jerry or a Scooby-Doo as their brand ambassador - because they realise the importance of speaking to kids and we have several brand extensions like merchandising, theme parks, etc," says Monica Tata.

An inevitable outgrowth of greater consumption is a rise in ad rates and industry sources opine that there has been a jump of about 10 - 15 per cent in ad rates across channels over this year. Well that‘s yet another reason for these broadcasters to be happy!

On looking at the factors that have propelled kid‘s channels out of control, Kapur attributes Hungama TV‘s success story to three main factors - programming, marketing and distribution. Along these three parallels the channel had adopted a strategy where they play with time slots every week to give kids what they demand, when they want it, as well as on air contests like Right Here Right Now.

On the marketing front he feels that interactivity through on ground initiatives like the Hungamathon, the Fireman Sam Safety Drive and the contest that has proved advantages as it provides the much needed feeback on their efforts, The Captains Hunt. Besides, the channel also boasts that the two Japanese acquisitions Doremon and Shinchan have done wonders for them.

Disney‘s Shah believes that their volume of commitment to the Indian market is seen in the their efforts to create an overall Disney brand experience through a 360 degree solution to consumers via multiple touch points that includes the contribution of every one of their businesses.

Their consumer products division supplies items from character based stationary to undergarments, to branded Disney apparel while the key drivers for their triumph include, That‘s So Raven, Mickey Mouse Club house and recent local production that the company claims is giving them good numbers Vicky Aur Vetaal. He also feels that entertainment at the ground level in India is something highly under-rated and speaks with reference to the event Disney Magic by saying, "Interactivity gives top gratification to the consumer and therefore, brand and character experience, is a turning point for entertainment in the country."

Also seeing the value in events, Monica Tata adds that their aim is to provide, new shows, themes, unique and fun-filled on-ground experiences - giving a 360-degree experience that is safe, enjoyable, fun and memorable. "Every year, we organise multi-city events such as Toon Cricket, Toon Yatra, Toon Games, Next Big Toon, Pogo Amazing Kids Awards, Fun Day Out, amongst others." Recently, Cartoon Network also announced a pan-asian initiative titled Snaptoons (Short New Asia Pacific Cartoons).

Category leader Cartoon Network forsees clear skies ahead for the kids category as a whole, "There is huge potential in the kids‘ segment and the Industry is definitely growing at a rapid pace. The viewership category has expanded. Plus, now it is not just about television/on-air programming or passive viewership - today kids‘ channels have the ability and option to offer viewers and clients multiple touch points and 360 degree solutions."

"This is definitely the age of the kids‘ segment and we have a bright future ahead. However, I would also like to add that even though adspends of brands targeting kids has grown over past years, this has not happened in line with the scorching viewership growth of the genre which has grown from 3.7 per cent in 2002 to 14.7 per cent in 2006, in terms of fair share of spends allocated to kids‘ channels. I am confident if advertisers targetting kids invest more on kids‘ channels than on general entertainment channels, audience deliveries will be much higher!" she adds.


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