‘Pokemon’ resonates with Hungama’s audiences: Vijay Subramaniam

MUMBAI: Fun, adventure, friendship, sportsmanship, are all part and parcel of childhood. Bringing a smile on kids’ faces is none other than a series called Pokemon which follows the quest of the main character, Ash Ketchum (known as Satoshi in Japan) a Pokemon master in training, as he and a small group of friends travel around the fictitious world of Pokemon along with their Pokemon partners.


The anime has been running successfully since its debut on Hungama with Pokemon: Indigo League in May 2014 with a new Hindi dub cast. Since its premiere, targeted at the age group of 4-14 years old, it has been consistently ranked on top among kids’ preference.


There are several reasons to it, according to Disney India media networks content and communications VP Vijay Subramaniam, who states that the premise of Hungama has always been to represent the spirit of kids in an unapologetic and unrelenting manner. “Hungama has always delivered on this promise and all our efforts were primarily to consolidate ourselves and deliver a certain style of narrative in the kids’ space.”


The handpicked characters like Ninja Warrior, Doremon or now Pokemon have been a success on the channel because of the interesting narrative, states Subramaniam.


In terms of popularity, the show in its launch week garnered 489 TVTs and ranked number one in total TV among all kids (CS 4-14 ABC) in Hindi speaking market (HSM) during its prime play time slot. Moreover, since launch till date, it has ranked number one in total TV among all kids (CS 4-14 ABC) in HSM and has reached out to 96.9 million individuals (CS4+) out of which 32.9 million are kids (CS 4-14) in all India.


He further expresses that, from May to November, the anime 1.5 million kids tuning in for it, which has lead to an increase of 15 per cent in total viewership.


So how it all began? It was in January 2014, where the channel was brainstorming on what other dimensions it can add to the current portfolio. “The first was to make the promise more active. Naturally, the next dimension we wanted to open up was with action-adventure. Pokemon was out first choice which is a mixture of action, comedy and fun,” says Subramaniam.


The thought that revolved was that all young kids have a fantasy world filled with a lot of imagination. The channel recognised the fact that if Pokemon had captured the imagination of one whole generation about 10 years ago, it was time to bring another generation in contact with the series.


When the network bought the television rights of Pokemon, it needed to get a couple of things right. Firstly, it looked at the complementary strengths of Pokemon and Hungama and how can one fuse them to create companion for the kids.


So, for the first time, the channel launched a weekly series (Monday - Friday) at 1 pm. “It was a conscious decision. The story has a linear track and it is important to keep pace with the kids.”


Apart from the original run at 1 pm, the channel also gives opportunity to kids to sample the content by airing repeats during the day.  He believes that the conversation around ‘Pokémon’ is a real currency for kids.


According to him the complementary strengths of Hungama has been always to keep the conversations, dialogues colloquial and casual. And that’s the exact treatment that the channel has applied in dubbing the Pokemon series. The voices and dialogues are all in tune with how the kids interact today.


Apart from this, the biggest shot in the arm for any successful series on Hungama has been the unique treatment given to the campaigns around it. With Pokemon, the entire campaign was done by using rap-battle. “Rap music has become quite popular with kids today and through rap-battle, the first campaign told the story of Pokemon and what it means to capture all the Pokemon and become the Pokemon master and when the title is given to you.” Once, it became popular, the channel decided that it is the time now to follow up with another rap-battle. This time around, the rap-battle was between two kids.


To maintain and retain the number one position, the channel does consumer research four times in a year to meet different needs. “We are constantly feeding off the insights that we are drawing from consumers. It’s important to know what they like and dislike and not just liberate to getting our answers for programming. It’s the fact that we are engaging and conversing with them and not just researching them.”


On the advertisers’ front, Hungama enjoys a strong run. “Even when we launched Pokemon, we had the support and confidence of the advertisers has only grown further considering the show is now performing a rock solid which is taking the overall Hungama performance up.”


Brands like Heinz, Piramal, Dabur, ITC Foods have associated with the series in the past four months.


According to Subramaniam, this property is not going to see curtains down anytime soon. He believes there are a lot of interesting stories yet to be told. “It is not even a year, and we have so many Pokemon worlds to display to our young audiences. We have got new dimensions and out of those, we will premier one in Early January 2015. Properties such as Pokemon, once when they endure themselves, they have the tendency to stay on for a very long time. This is the property which is going to continue to resonate Hungama’s audiences for a long time,” signs off Subramaniam.  

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