H1: Kids channels hunt for growth, local content

H1: Kids channels hunt for growth, local content


MUMBAI: Much of the ills that the kids channels faced in the last couple of years continued to prevail in the first half of 2012: revenue pressure, distribution bottlenecks, audience fragmentation, fierce competition, increase in costs and low advertising rates.

And yet the genre is attracting new channel launches. Viacom18 launched a channel dedicated to action to complement Nick and add to its bouquet strength, similar to Turner‘s two-channel pack and one behind Disney‘s. Later this month, Discovery Kids is going to make its appearance in India.

So what is exciting kids networks? The sheer demographics with 30 per cent of India‘s 1.2 billion population living in this age group, impending digitisation and 10 per cent yearly growth in viewership.

The ad market for the genre, though a meagre Rs 2.5 billion, has the potential to grow faster. The industry expects it to grow 10 per cent year-on-year with non-traditional advertisers like automobiles, consumer electronics, and mobile devices consciously targeting the genre.

Kids TV broadcasters are working on their content front to take away share from competition. The magic duplication of global franchises is not enough. Building strong, multi-dimensional characters is the most important element to attract kids across the globe.

Agrees Turner International India South Asia GM Entertainment Networks Monica Tata, "Whether it is animation or live action, kids need to be able to relate to characters irrespective of geographical, social and cultural diversity," she says.

Faced with the uphill task of satiating the entertainment needs of kids, broadcasters are increasingly experimenting with content. There has been a swift move from comedy to action-oriented shows. The logic of launching Sonic is to primarily tap this market.

The action genre has dedicated offerings from Pogo, Sonic and Disney XD. Local productions including live action and animation continue to rule the roost as far as ratings are concerned.

The Chotta Bheem franchise continues to be the tentpole property of Pogo, besides generating revenues at the box office for its producer, Hyderabad-based Green Gold Animation.

Nick has also placed its bet on Shaktimaan, the animated series produced by Reliance Animation, with the hope to tap into the legacy of the Indian superhero and attract the action-loving generation. The show will also air on Sonic, which is growing its reach steadily.

?Local content is substantially drawing kid‘s viewership, whether it?s live action or animation. All players in the category now have well established local shows on their grids. Action is slowly creeping into the comedy space that so far dominated the category,? says Viacom18 EVP and GM Sonic and Nickelodeon India Nina Elavia Jaipuria.

Disney is experimenting with local live action shows like Suite Life of Karan and Kabir and Best of Luck Nikki. The two shows contribute about 15-19 per cent of total programming hours on Disney Channel.

?Live action is a genre that is driving significant viewership and is increasingly becoming popular among kids and families,? avers Disney UTV executive director and Disney kids network business head Vijay Subramaniam.

Disney XD has taken the television rights of new animation series Mysteries & Feluda produced by Hyderabad-based DQ Entertainment. Feluda is a series of novels and short stories written by famous Indian director and author Satyajit Ray.

?We have several local animation shows that enliven the rich Indian storytelling heritage while remaining entertaining and relevant to today?s viewers, such as the famous Indian detective series ? Feluda by master storyteller Satyajit Ray, the story of twins ? Luv Kush, Suryaputra, The Adventures of King Vikram and Little Pandavas,? Subramaniam adds.

While the hunt is on for sourcing more local shows, kids channels need to just find a couple of flagship shows. Says Jaipuria, ?Most category players are led by one or two shows. The channel ratings are garnered by these shows spread across various slots through the day.?

Agrees Tata, "An interesting trend noticed is that kids prefer to tune in to fewer shows on kids channels than ever before. But their time spent per show is increasing, thereby ensuring that the viewership remains positive.?

Will the launch of Discovery Kids create further fragmentation in an already crowded space?

Jaipuria does not think so. ?The Sonic launch fueled the category‘s growth. Discovery Kids could aid in growing it further. Since its offerings could be unique, this will only lead to minimised fragmentation.?

The Summer Window

The January-June period was a significant window and a hectic one for kids channels as the summer vacation falls during this period, the only time of the year when kids have long, uninterrupted access to television. The channels across the board pulled out all stops to come out with top notch programming to grab maximum eyeballs.

Despite the fact that cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) also falls during the summer vacations, the kids broadcasters did not see much of an impact on their viewership. The genre viewership during the first the half of the year, in fact, has improved from 18 per cent to 20 per cent over last year, asserts Tata.

Avg. Yearly Channel Shares of Kids Channels
Channel Yr 2011 Yr 2012 (Till Wk 21 ‘12)
POGO 18.7 21.6
Disney Channel 18.0 20.0
NICK 20.0 17.5
HUNGAMA 17.1 14.4
CN Cartoon Network 18.7 13.8
Disney XD 7.3 8.2
Sonic Nickelodeon 0.1 4.4
*Note : Sonic Nickelodeon was launched in Week 51, 2011

Source : TAM Media Research
Market : All India
TG : CS 4-14 yrs
Period : Yr 2011 to 2012 (Till Week 21 ‘12)

As part of its summer line-up, Disney Channel saw the launch of live action series The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir, an Indian adaptation of the American show, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. It also aired the second season of Best of Luck Nikki, another live action series which is an adaptation of the American show Good Luck Charlie.

Nick introduced classic American animated series Dennis the Menace during the evening band. The DIC Entertainment produced series will have a 52-episode run.

The show strengthened Nick?s evening band, particularly since it had lost a key property Oggy and the Cockroaches to Cartoon Network India. The switch happened as a result of an exclusive co-production agreement between Cartoon Network Asia Pacific and French animation studio Xilam.

Sonic entered into a deal with Saban Brands to air its adventure series Power Rangers Samurai and Power Rangers Super Samurai for two seasons in a deal stitched by Los Angeles-based producer-distributor MarVista Entertainment.

Cartoon Network launched a humorous show, Horrid Henry, in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, apart from building on its Ben 10 franchise by building ‘Ben 10: Ultimate Alien?.

Pogo ramped up its content offering by launching animated comedy series Mojacko. The channel introduced new seasons of its key franchise Chotta Bheem in addition to a new movie, Chotta Bheem and the Curse of Damayaan that collected Rs 20.5 million in the first five days of its theatrical release.

Marketing thrust

The first half of the year also witnessed a host of marketing activities that was directed at engaging kids. Nick brought the Power Rangers to India by conducting ?The Power Ranger Tour?, aimed at increasing the fan following of the iconic characters in the country.

The Power Rangers Samurai initiative was supported with a 360-degree marketing campaign which included the Power Ranger?s on-ground tour, van activations covering 15 key cities, print ads, radio and cross promotion across various television channels.

Similarly, Disney Channel had launched the Jet Set Go on-air contest in association with Jet Airways which gave kids and their families an opportunity to win an all-expenses paid trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. The campaign, which was driven completely on the kids network channels of Disney, generated six million entries from across India and culminated with the unveiling of Disney-themed aircraft.

?The success of our recent campaign ?Jet Set Go? is a witness to the fact that unique and innovative engagement which resonate wonderfully well with the viewers. While the kid is definitely the hero, these innovative campaigns involve and engage with their entire family,? avers Subramaniam.

Push to grow L&M

There was major thrust on Licensing & Merchandising too as all the major channels launched Back-to-School product range featuring popular characters be it Dora, Ben 10 or Winnie The Pooh.

However, the deal that grabbed the maximum attention was the one signed by Disney Consumer Products India, the licensing & merchandising arm of The Walt Disney Company India, with IPL team Mumbai Indians to launch Mickey Cricket Merchandise which includes apparel and accessories, footwear, stationary, home and toys, all featuring Disney?s Fab Five in fun cricketing attire.

Disney Consumer Products India has also done its first licensing deal in the real estate sector with Mumbai-based real estate company Sunteck Realty to launch Disney Inspired Homes in Mumbai. The project is expected to generate a turnover of Rs 100 billion to the company.

Nick was also not far behind with as many as 55 licensing deals already in its kitty which include partnership with Future Group‘s retail chain Big Bazar to launch the Spongebob SquarePants ? Back to School range of products for children. It has also partnered Metro Shoes to launch Dora co-branded footwear in addition to a deal with TI Cycles to launch co-branded cycles.

Cartoon Network Enterprises, the consumer products division of Turner, partnered Attano Media & Education to launch video-ebooks and interactive activity books.

However, the L&M is still a very nascent business for kids channels in India who see it as a long-term play that will evolve over a period of time. L&M contributes only 5-7 per cent of total revenues for most channels.

With the first half of the year over, kids networks are eagerly awaiting the rollout of digitisation in the first four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai from 1 November. "Long under pressure and a weakening business model, digitisation could be a game-changer for a genre that has been struggling to grow in the last few years," says a media analyst.

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