Television

Kid's TV up for big battle

As the path ahead for television in India is to adopt the 'niche' approach, here's a look at one such genre: kids channels.

An audience (4 - 14 year olds) that was previously underserved, now has its platter full with Turner dishing out two channels (Cartoon Network and Pogo), Disney three (Disney Channel, Jetix and locally acquired Hungama TV) and Viacom beefing up Nick.

Joining the bandwagon is Sun TV's Tamil kids channel Chutti TV. What's more, it will soon have three little siblings in Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam.

To add to this, BBC has also brought forth its preschool channel CBeebies to India. It, however, remains on the direct-to-home platform and has not yet penetrated into the mass market through cable.

As the activity in the kid's TV space heats up, Indiantelevision.com takes an in-depth look at the disposition of this segment over the last six months from January to June 2007, with support from the ratings scorecard that clearly dissects the country into iits two core markets (HSM and Southern region).

The analysis takes into account the implications of Tam's extended TV universe with the addition of peoplemeters coupled with DTH expansion and Cas penetration. Now that the scenario seems to have settled down, the ratings of the last six months will weave a new story for the players in this space. What is also interesting is that this duration (summer vacations April-May) is among the busiest seasons for this genre with every broadcaster punting on his best properties.

Turner stays ahead; Nick sees max growth in Hindi belt

While the battle in the Hindi speaking markets has been intense between the two networks Turner and Disney oscillating between top ratings, its Viacom that is leapfrogging its way up the ladder. Nick has, in fact, been the fastest growing channel in the kid's category as it opened the year with a relative channel share of eight per cent to close at 11 per cent in June (Tam C&S 4+ HSM 4-14 years).

Tam relative HSM channel shares from January - June 2007 for HSM
Channels
Jan
Feb
Mar
April
May
June
Cartoon Network
27
26
28
28
26
23
Disney Channel
15
16
15
16
15
17
Hungama TV
21
24
21
22
21
25
Nick
8
9
10
10
11
11
Pogo
22
19
19
18
21
18
Jetix (Toon Disney)
7
7
7
6
5
5
(C&S 4+, HSM, 4-14 year olds)

Much of Nick's growth story can be attributed to its focused efforts to win over its TG through contests and relationship building activities conducted month on month since January.

Explaining toIndiantelevision.com Nick India VP and GM Nina Jaipuria says, "We have made a conscious effort to do what we promised at the beginning of the year, that is to connect to our loyal audiences and to acquire new audiences via our on-air and on-ground activities. This has helped increase the affinity of kids to the channel. On the ratings front, we have witnessed 67 per cent growth in TVRs which makes us the fastest growing the category across Hindi speaking markets. We have also grown by 54 per cent in reach, while the reach of the category as a whole has stagnated at 64 per cent from January to June 2007."

 
 
 



Coming back to the two top networks, Disney did overthrow the long standing player at the helm Turner in February and June, but what's intriguing is that the fortunes of Disney appear to be mostly tied into the fate of its adopted baby Hungama TV which peaked during these two months clocking a share of 24 and 25 respectively. In North India Jetix has been slipping from a share of 7 to 5, while Disney Channel has been fairly consistent with an average share of 15.5. Hungama TV has emerged as the chart topper in the Hindi markets in the month of June.

Walt Disney Television International (India) director production and programming Aparna Bhosle said that Hungama TV did drop to the third spot in January as a result of Tam expansion. "Through a huge exercise that spanned marketing, distribution and programming changes, we have found our ground and hereon I can only see us growing upward."

Hungama TV is now betting on comedy to take it up on the ratings front, as earlier attempts at pre-school programming, action anime and even Bollywood blockbusters failed to work for the channel. "I would admit to the fact that 90 per cent of all experiments were a failure! Now that we have overcome that phase I don't see any room for more. We are resting our foundation on comedy and are looking to heavily concentrate on this genre that will cut across sexes. While we cater to the 4 -14 age demographic, our core audiences are 8 - 12 year olds."

When queried on the pitfalls that the channel encountered, Bhosle elaborated that her attempts at a pre-school block in August 2006 did not take off well, even though she re-tried this strategy in June this year as well. Additionally, action anime and Bollywood flicks were not received well by her audiences. "Besides kid's centric Bollywood films are too few and only provide one-off spikes. I would rather focus on building properties that will consistently deliver," she adds.

From an All India perspective, Cartoon Network and its sibling Pogo on continued to dominate the kid's market across the six months.

Turner International India VP advertising sales and networks, India and South Asia Monica Tata says, "Cartoon Network and Pogo have never looked at short-term measures or short-term results, even when it was the only kids' channel in India. As far as ratings are concerned, we have always played fair and looked at long-term ratings rather than just a few weeks.

"Therefore, if you look at our overall performance through the year, it has been positive and we have been number one and number two channels with Cartoon Network at 26 per cent channel share and Pogo at 22 per cent, (January-June 2007 All days, All India, 24 hours, All SEC). Moreover, during the crucial summer months, when kids' viewing is at its peak Cartoon Network and POGO, delivered a hatrick by topping the TAM charts, three years in a row."

Chutti makes its mark in the South

Steering our analysis towards South India, we find that the new Tamil kid from the Sun stable has rattled up the market, especially eating into a substantial chunk of both Cartoon Network and Pogo's audiences.

Chutti TV was launched on 29 April but over the next two months a clear migration of audiences can be observed. The worst hit appears to be Cartoon Network which slipped from a share of 31 per cent in April to 18 and 20 per cent in the months of May and June respectively. Meanwhile, Pogo slipped from 33 per cent in April to 25 and 21 per cent in the subsequent months.

One reason for Chutti TV's success is that it is a free-to-air channel. Says Tata, "As far as Chutti TV's leadership position in the Southern region is concerned, I don't think it is fair to compare a free to air channel, which Chutti TV is in the South, with a paid one such as Cartoon Network. The ratings would be skewed in favour of the FTA channel simply because of more reach and distribution."

Tam relative channel shares from January - June 2007 for Southern markets
Channel
Jan
Feb
Mar
April
May
June
Cartoon Network
29
32
29
31
18
20
Disney Channel
5
5
4
4
5
4
Hungama TV
2
2
3
2
2
3
Nick
5
4
4
4
3
3
POGO
29
32
33
33
25
21
Jetix (Toon Disney)
31
25
28
23
26
27
Chutti TV
-
-
-
2
21
21
(C&S 4+, South, 4-14 year olds)

Sun network also controls distribution in Tamil Nadu with its cable company SCV holding a strong grip in the market. It is also a strong brand among the southern audiences.

Making up for its dipping numbers in the North is Walt Disney's Jetix which held on to its position in the South. Jetix garnered a share of 26 and 27 for May and June, despite the onslaught of FTA newcomer Chutti TV that gobbled up a share of 21 for the two months after launch.

Observers say when Sun rolls out the other three versions of its kid's channel template to cover the regional markets of the South, the fortunes of both Turner and Disney may be toppled.

"They are a formidable opposition in the South, but this will only mean that we will be have to work much harder to maintain our position in the region," opines Bhosle.

Potential threat from upcoming youth centric channels?

While kid's channels are still trying to attract viewers from adult general entertainment channels, separate youth centric television channels are coming to the fray.

The kid's space may have to brace up to a bigger challenge from the slew of upcoming youth entertainment brands that are likely to snatch a large share of the older age demographic of their TG or what's popularly referred to as the 'tweens.'

Responding to this Bhosle states, "We will probably see a drift in audiences and a loss of older kids but that will also be the challenge going forward."

Tata says, "With increased competition, there is always fragmentation. We were expecting this at some point. Any new brand has an added advantage of novelty, newness of content and high-decibel brand visibility. It does have an impact on viewers, especially when they are of such an impressionable age."

Amidst the growing competition within the kids arena and the threat from upcoming youth targeted GECs, is the kid's TV space already experiencing saturation?

While some industry experts are of the opinion that the kid's space has saturated and the time has come to tap into another underserved section of the populace in India's 'youth,' the proponents in the kid's TV market differ on the same.

Bhosle believes that it's still too early for saturation of the kid's television market in India. "We can not stop cannibalization of the market. That's why we as a network have charted out a clear cut positioning for each of our three channels."

Bracing up for the months ahead Tata concludes, "We have always led from the top and not shifted or changed our strategies in reaction to competition. Our vision is to be a major kids' lifestyle brand in the next few years. And we have been working very hard this past year to move aggressively and rapidly towards that vision. We are no longer taking baby steps but extending the brands across various platforms to ensure that we reach out to kids at every possible access point."

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