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Gaming apps, YouTube, publishing can boost revenue for kids content producers

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MUMBAI: Kids content is being developed worldwide primarily through satellite or public broadcasting or a combination of both. In the absence of a strong public broadcasting model, content creators can become completely dependent on satellite broadcasting only. Thus it becomes a challenge to build larger than life character brands from which alternate sources of revenue can be milked for higher returns. However, can Indian children’s programming develop towards embracing emerging alternate revenue sources in the digital age?

At a FICCI Frames 2015 discussion titled, “Emerging alternate revenue sources for kid’s content,” panelists shared their experiences. On the panel were, Dream Theatre founder and CEO Jiggy George, Disney India VP and head consumer products Abhishek Maheshwari, Aditya Horizons founders GD Bakshi and Aditya Bakshi, Yaboho New Media founder and CEO Hitendra Merchant and Reliance Entertainment Digital CEO Manish Agarwal. 

Panelists shared their views on how alternate sources of revenue for kid’s content can be monetized.

Yaboho New Media founder and CEO Hitendra Merchant

According to Merchant, when the multi-channel network started off it realised that it did not have to be a multi-national company (MNC) based in North America to create strong digital content. “We create pre-school content and we are one of the largest preschool content creators on YouTube.”

He also said that a digital multi-channel network content provider did not have to rush towards a broadcast network to put forth their content. The changing dynamic of the media space, according to him, presented two opportunities. One was through YouTube, which could help monetize kid’s content and secondly through gaming apps that kids were increasingly using today. “Both are driven by storytelling, for example Angry Birds,” he explained.

Disney India VP and head consumer products Abhishek Maheshwari

Explaining about a large brand like Disney, Maheshwari informed that the revenue potential created through merchandising across categories like stationary and toys were a bigger source of revenue than the content itself (i.e films produced by the studio). “Publishing of our content both on print through books and on digital platforms are also value added propositions for us,” he said.

He then went on to speak of the brand’s iconic journey so far the world over. The fundamental aspect to the success of Disney’s characters was that consumers were able to relate to the story and that later on translated towards revenue streams. “About 75 per cent of our focus is on storytelling. Mickey Mouse is a big gift that continues giving us maximum revenue across networks. ESPN as a sports brand is also a large contributor towards our overall revenues,” Maheshwari highlighted, adding that the brand was launching its next big theme park in Shanghai and the Marvel franchise was a big growth booster in India.

Reliance Entertainment Digital CEO Manish Agarwal

For Agarwal, gaming was going to become the next big reality in monetization of kids content. Illustrating his point through an example, he said that when parents today reached their respective homes, their smart phones were taken over by their kids in order to play games. Raising two key points, he said, “High speed internet without buffering issues was still a roadblock and secondly, propensity to pay for gaming apps is no longer a major issue as audiences don’t mind paying for the same.”

He also remarked that the psychological roots of a gaming app pushed users towards purchasing items in the real world, which boosted additional revenues. Throwing in some vital statistics, he said that while a popular gaming app would easily see close to five to ten million downloads in a month, a newly created gaming app would receive a million downloads easily in a country like India because of a large market. Ads via these apps were revenue boosters too.

Aditya Horizons founders GD Bakshi and Aditya Bakshi

The father son duo are pioneers behind the brand called Indian War Comics. While GD Bakshi hails from a military background as he is a retired major general, his son Aditya is from a merchant navy background. “None of our educational systems today have values,” the former army man began. He said that the comics created by them were based on real life stories of Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra real war heroes, who had laid down their lives for the country. “Values are not thought but caught,” he added. The target audience was sixth and seventh class upwards and the comics strive to propagate “national values.”

Aditya, on the other hand, went on to explain that the comic company had tied up with institutions like schools, NGOs and self-help groups to distribute their comics as they found the traditional distribution systems daunting. The company’s step will be towards digital apps and toys in order to monetize.

Dream Theatre founder and CEO Jiggy George

George’s company is mainly into merchandising and licensing of content on three mediums i.e films, digital apps/games and television. For George, two trump cards that could help a lot in gaining from the licensing market in India were the size of the entertainment market and a rising consuming class that had strong and bigger pockets to purchase items. “In addition, local content on TV, like Chotta Bheem, will always perform better.”

Towards the end, entrepreneurs were guided that they should explore the art of telling great stories for kids, while other monetizing options would follow. Catch them while they are young they concluded.

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