Television

Content play of India's kids channels

Will the regional players also take a lesson from the Hindi market and go for local content?

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MUMBAI: Kids from 90s that grew up watching Aladdin, Duck Tales, The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry and Dexter’s Laboratory among others will cherish the memories of being couch potatoes during their childhood. Until 2008, when Chhota Bheem, a dhoti-clad boy chomping laddoos made an entry in the industry, all eyes were glued to foreign content dubbed in local languages.

With the evolution of the animation industry in India and the change in financial strategies, broadcasters are now focusing on India-made characters and shows, moving beyond international syndications.

Back in 2007, Sun TV’s kids’ channel, Chutti TV, dedicated for Tamil-speaking audience was launched in India. Later in 2009, Khushi TV was launched for Telugu viewers and since then, Chintu TV, a Kannada channel and Kochu TV for Malayalam audience have been added.

Though the regional space is the most happening one now, kids’ channels are primarily Hindi with just regional audio feeds.

Indian animation studios and companies are moving up the value chain and have started to create their own intellectual property rights. Global conglomerates such as Sony, Walt Disney and Warner Brothers have also seen the benefit in outsourcing animation characters and special effects to Indian companies.

Moreover, in 2014, the average ratio for acquired versus local content was 60:40 for most broadcasters against 90:10 in 2008. Hindi broadcasters today are keen on creating their own IPs while the regional broadcasters bank on dubbed content. Gloomy Bear, Talking Tom, Garfield, and Dora are some of the shows that work well with the south Indian audience. The network only has one property involved named Happy Kids, which is an animated series launched for the Kerala market.

Considering the fact that anything that is made for the own territory is far more expensive than syndicated content, the amount of money required to produce a show for the regional audiences is comparatively lower than the Hindi market. Animation production is far more expensive than general entertainment channels as well. The type of content and the investment in it also attracts the right kind of sponsors. Low budget content will only get a handful of sponsors, while big budget and sponsors will require the storyline to be universal.

According to the FICCI report 2018, the Indian share in the global animation industry is less than one per cent. However, it is expected to increase in the coming years. Yet, international projects account for 70-80 per cent of the Indian industry revenues. The animation industry is 70 per cent art and only 30 per cent technology, leading to small enterprises driven by the passion of art bagging prominent deals.

On one side, there is the Hindi speaking market making an effort to shift the kids’ preferences towards Indian original shows, while on the other side there is the regional space feeding them with syndicated content. Will the regional players also take a lesson from the Hindi market and go for local content or will their bombardment of international shows hold back the kids from wanting more?

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