Kids prefer entertainment over edutainment on TV

MUMBAI:  Broadcasters’ various attempts at creating content that can get children hooked has repeatedly turned up one result – animation entertainment is what each child comes for.

The OTTV Kids and Animation Summit 2017’s saw a session on ‘the content and storytelling strategies for kids’ with panelists-Hungama Kids Artist Aloud original content VP Soumini Paul, animation screenwriter Vivek Shukla, Discovery Kids Network head of content Uttam Pal Singh, Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle group creative director Neel Debdutt Paul and Avant Garde Films founder, CEO and content creator Sohini Mitra. The panel was moderated by Dveo Media CEO Deepak Ramsurrun.

Discovery’s Singh highlighted that it is exploring more entertainment content for kids aged 2-14. Instead of forcing them to watch particular content, the channel is internally conducting research to understand their tastes.

Mitra said that apart from rhyming kids content, which is a rage on her channel catering to 3-year-old kids, kids are guzzling humour and action-based series. She added that parents play a key role to get kids to watch content at a specific time.

Whether one should mix education with this content was the question of the day. S Paul drives home the point by saying, “According to me, educational content, by itself, is boring. The topics we take up, which could be generic, educational or even learn-the-basics kind, are done in a fun and simple manner.”

Adding more to the context, N Paul said that children don’t want to be bogged down with educational content on screens after they’ve had a heavy dose of the same in school and tuition.

Agreeing to Neel’s point, Singh said that obviously, parents must be worried and concerned about what their kids are watching. However, when it comes to watching their favourite content, children do not like it when they see the shadow of their parents or teachers in their favourite cartoon characters. Questions like ‘Did you have your milk?’ will only turn them off.

Ramsurrun asked whether content is selected on the basis of market trends or new ones are experimented with. To which, Mitra said that both things go hand in hand. “Originality is very important. However, at the same time, market trends are also important. As a mother I observe that my son gets tired of seeing the same content repeatedly, so this a market trend for me as an animator. We do a lot of research and then find new content.” Shukla also reiterated the need for original content. “We can have mythological shows but I do not favour copied content,” he said.

Giving an alternative viewpoint, Singh said that cartoons like Doraemon or Chhota Bheem are always repeated but children are still hooked. “They do look out for original content, but they take time to know these new characters,” he added.

S Paul brought in economics into the discussion by saying that local content production needs high budgets. “We have a small team but if we have basic resources, we can get into producing local content. If we talk about acquiring the content, the budget is certainly a consideration.”

Singh added that children don’t bother to know where content has been acquired from or whether it is original or not. They just need to see their favourites on screen and be entertained by them.

With umpteen numbers of foreign shows available at their disposal such as Doraemon, children will not prefer to watch the likes of Kaali Gufa ka Jaadu. The superior quality of animation is something India is still catching up to.

Concluding the panel discussion, Shukla emphasised the need for improving the quality and content of originals. He said, “What made Chhota Bheem work? The story and the content were good, but what next? We need to move ahead and get more local original content for kids.”

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