Devika: The core value that Disney stands for is celebration of the family. Expressing yourself, following your dream - these are universal themes. When we create content, we try to locally recreate it. Best of Luck Nikki is one of the best examples of a show that‘s able to balance a very strong track that focuses on both parents and children. As it‘s a large family, there‘s something for every age group to connect with.
Your content has evolved and today, you have various channels under the Disney umbrella. Please elaborate.
Devika: Disney is a kid-centric family-inclusive entertainment channel. That‘s something we‘ve been very mindful of and committed to.
In terms of content, we started off with Disney Animation, which has sound heritage value, then adding Disney Live Action. Initially, we had a lot of the original series used by Disney USA but over the years, we felt the need to make our content more relevant to viewers in India. So, we created local series such asBest of Luck Nikki, Karan and Kabir and Shake it Up, which we are proud to have pioneered in this space.
While there have been many attempts to create live action in the past, there hasn‘t been anything created so family-focused and family-inclusive and we are happy to be the ones to initiate such programming and keep it going. In 2011, live action was only six per cent of our schedule but this year, it is nearly 18 per cent. We are committed to growing that because we want Disney to be enjoyed by all.
As for the different channels, Disney XD is all about humour, action and passion and is also the home of our Marvel Comics content.
Hungama celebrates the fun and mischief of childhood - something anyone of any age can relate to and appreciate.
Disney Junior, which targets pre-school children between two and seven years of age, is literally our baby. It is the home of pre-school content and popular shows like Micky Mouse Clubhouse and The Lion King.
While you say you are committed to growing live action at Disney, will these live action shows be originals or remakes?
Indrajit: Great stories are great stories. So whether it‘s a version of a show written in the US or an original, we focus on great stories with great characters as wholesome entertainment for kids.
Many of our shows are re-versions but at the end of the day, it‘s about great stories that are universal.
How easy or difficult is it to adapt from an original?
Indrajit: We contextualise it in terms of the setting such as the kind of family, which part of India will they be from and what are the characters.
For instance, in one of the upcoming shows, there is this character of a governess which doesn‘t really fit into the Indian milieu. So, it‘s about adapting to the closest Indian character - in this case, a ‘daima‘ - who fits in. Then you go on to the dialogue - will it be in Gujarati, Punjabi, et al.
How do you package shows to suit different age groups?
Devika: Being in the kids‘ space, our demographic is four to 14 years. In this country, school timings are varied, so we make sure we have quality entertainment all day. We do schedule our live action post 8:00 pm so that the family can sit together and enjoy. There‘s special focus on the weekend, especially the mornings. On Sunday mornings, we have show premieres while Saturday mornings are for movies.
What‘s the kind of response you get?
Devika: It is important for us to understand family demographics and reflect that. For instance, we understand that kids are becoming more democratic than ever before, parents are looking to be closer to their children, and children are having a greater say in things that influence their lives.
So we choose to keep the dialogue open, and do that through syndicated research, focus groups and facebook pages. There are many avenues for us to interact with them.
Indrajit: In terms of structure, we are very focused and undertake research to understand the viewer better. One of the things that came out was that kids are very techno-savvy these days. They enjoy a lot of their entertainment on screens other than television as well. This kind of feedback that we get on a regular basis is worked back into the setting to make the content even more relevant to viewers.
What is it that sets Disney apart?
Devika: For instance, we have the magical world of Disney movies on Saturday mornings and these are what the parents have grown up with as well - The Lion King, Cinderella, Peter Pan,101 Dalmatians. These stories take you down memory lane and you enjoy sharing them with your kids. The kind of content we have on Disney, keeping these aspects in mind, sets it apart.
Indrajit: There‘s a huge thing about trust. Adults trust us with our content, and that is very important to us. Yes, there‘s always going to be competition and pressure, but these things make us what we are and what differentiate us from the rest.
With so many GECs in the race, how does Disney UTV manage to stay on top in the minds of its audience? Vishaka Chakrapani spoke to Disney UTV Digital COO Sameer Ganapathy to understand the channel‘s social media strategy.
How is Disney making its presence felt online?
Disney is a family entertainment brand with content present across television, cinema, consumer products and digital.
With the evolution of the digital space, especially social media, we believe it‘s a great way to engage fans and have a two-way communication with them. A strong online presence across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter is a significant step in that direction.
Our strategy is to provide our web users with constant updates on our programming and also create a platform for Disney fans to get together and enjoy content on their favourite franchises. Our efforts are to ensure that our content is available to viewers and fans whenever and wherever they want it.
Of the three platforms Disney India is operating on, which one is getting the most traction? Why and how are you maintaining this?
Currently, the Facebook page is garnering maximum engagement among fans. With Facebook, we have an average of 13 per cent engagement over the past six months.
The Disney India Facebook page is home to all things Disney including daily contests and interactive content for our fans. In the past, we‘ve had multiple activities on the page, ranging from Disney Consumer Product franchises to show promotions and awareness. Activities like Disney Back2School, DisneyQ and Art Attack received a very positive response and we hope to continue the momentum with the release of Disney‘s Planes that is just round the corner.
How important are mobile devices? What is the split between these and desktop viewing? Are apps big for you?
At Disney Media Networks, our efforts are to ensure that our content is available to viewers and fans whenever and wherever they want it.
An important part of our strategy is to ensure content availability across multiple screens including mobiles. On YouTube, we have 6.3 million views for Disney India; of which, over 1.2 million views come from mobile phones.
Ours is a generation of screen-agers and mobile phones have emerged a personal source of entertainment to access games, videos and more. We aim to provide our users with content that can travel with them across screens, from television to computers to mobile phones. Just last year, we launched the Disney App for feature phones, which has short format videos for fans. The beauty of this app is that fans get seamless video viewing experience even on data connectivity like Edge and GPRS.
With its niche content and programming, who are the advertisers on Disney UTV? Vishaka Chakrapani spoke to Disney UTV Media Networks ad sales executive director Nikhil Gandhi to get a feel of the kind of advertising the channel attracts.
Who are the advertisers you have on board?
Currently, we have several long-term advertisers on our channels like ITC Foods, Nestle, Cadbury and Hindustan Unilever to name some.
Which shows get the best/highest number of advertisements?
There are no specific shows that are the key drivers. Advertisers are driven by two types of content - Performance driven shows or shows and movies based on saliency. We are very excited about our original productions and live action is definitely the way forward for us.
Which categories/companies spend the most on advertising on your channels? Are there any emerging spenders?
We have a significant number of FMCG (Fast Manufacturing Consumer Goods) advertisers on our channels. However, with our content reaching out to family audiences, there is a new genre and categories of advertisers who target families, especially mothers looking to explore our channels.
What does advertising on such channels offer to these advertisers? Any trends and insights you can share with us?
Families are becoming far more democratic in nature and kids today have become key influencers and more involved in the decision making process. With kids at the centre, our channels engage families, especially mothers, and therefore, offer a greater efficiency to any media plan.
Which time band is most preferred and why?
In the kids‘ genre, we cater to a broad segment of children across our channels. During weekdays, the afternoons become a significant band for us. Sunday mornings have already been established as an exciting band with our live action shows such as Best of Luck Nikki,Shake It Up and more. We already have the Magical World of Disney block on Saturdays, and we are focusing on building Saturday mornings as a key slot for advertisers as well.
So what is the primetime for advertising?
Like mentioned before, afternoons on weekdays since kids are generally in schools. However, with our live action shows - Sunday mornings become extremely important for us, and we are building on Saturday mornings as well.
Do advertisers differ for weekends and weekdays?
No. We see the same traction on weekdays as well as weekends.