Children are a dynamic audience and their entertainment preferences are constantly evolving. The kids’ category in India is therefore reposed with the challenging task of keeping the most dynamic set of audiences constantly engaged and entertained. Over the last few years the most noted shift amongst kids has been an increasing inclination towards local characters that they relate to and can engage with even beyond television. Great story telling based in familiar settings brought alive through elements like dialect and lifestyle have been key to ensuring that children strike a bond with the character. Infusing local nuances that drive familiarity, a sense of belonging and relatability have hence become drivers to creating affinity for local characters. Local content curated from start to finish in India is therefore proving to be the game changer for the kids’ genre and has defined the way kids’ channels have evolved in India. Unlike the earlier days, today the most popular characters in the kid’s genre are local Indian characters like Motu, Patlu, Chota Bheem, Doggy Don, etc. The warm welcoming of the latest entrant into the kid’s category i.e. Nickelodeon’s very own super-kid Shiva is another example of the love and affinity that kids have for local characters and shows.
With the soaring popularity of these “Made in India” characters, the genre has further widened its appeal with local character based “Made for TV films,” thus adding to the engagement and viewing experience for children. Such made for TV films of our popular characters Motu Patlu and Doggy Don of the Pakdam Pakdai gang continue to top the rating charts, emerging as a clear favourite amongst children. These characters are no more just a mere viewing experience for children but have forged a lasting bond with them. These local characters have now become a part of every child’s inner circle as their best friend, role model and confidante.
At Nickelodeon, we truly believe in the power of local content to engage and connect with children. Each of our iconic “Made in India” characters like Motu, Patlu, Shiva, Doggy Don and Chotu have helped us create great resonance amongst children. We have taken these iconic characters out of television screens into the daily lives of children through on ground events, consumer products, digital games, etc aligning to the evolving consumption patterns of entertainment through various platforms.
Curating local content comes with its own set of challenges. However we are in the business of engaging and entertaining children and have always endeavoured to give them the best of stories, characters and quality of animation. We have thus overcome challenges like escalating animation costs, lack of specialised talent to create good content and scripts by investing in a business model that is a win-win for all stakeholders. It has provided great quality of content for the viewer translating to better viewership for the broadcaster, widespread reach for brands within their target groups and also facilitated interesting and innovative integrations for advertisers. This has also fuelled the growth momentum of the animation industry in India.
Kids are at the core of all we do at Nickelodeon. Curating local content and owning IPs thus enables us to create an ecosystem that amplifies our engagement further. For instance
1. Motu Patlu merchandise like, ride on’s, apparel, stationery and the back to school range have allowed children to make them a part of their inner circle
2. Games of Motu Patlu and Shiva have kept them engaged online and allowed off screen interactivity with their favourite characters.
3. On ground meet and greets with Motu Patlu, Shiva and the Pakdam Pakdai gang have given children up-close and personal experiences with their favourite toons.
4. Promo licensing partnerships like the latest Motu Patlu promotional pack of Mc Vities biscuits and Yellow diamonds have allowed kids to enjoy their favourite treats with their favourite characters.
These engagement opportunities also provide ancillary revenue streams thus bringing more scale to the entire ecosystem.
With India witnessing a digitisation drive, premium local content has emerged as a key differentiator for the discerning viewers with a wider variety of entertainment choices. Having made our mark in India, this superior local content has also demonstrated great potential and has made an indelible mark in the global animation landscape. We are already seeing instances of this with many of our local animation productions making a global foray. For instance Motu Patlu is now present across five countries, Pakdam Pakdai as Rat-a-Tat has been syndicated across seven countries. Our latest character, the super kid Shiva showcased at the latest chapter of MIPCOM has also received tremendous response and talks of international syndication for our new hero are underway.
The Indian animation industry led by the kid’s entertainment genre is at the cusp of the next echelon of growth where opportunities are galore. High quality of animation, great story telling and engaging “Made in India” characters are not only capturing hearts and minds in India but also making global in-roads, paving the way for glocalisation of the kids genre. Jai Ho!
(Disclaimer: These are purely personal views of Viacom18 EVP and head - kids cluster Nina Jaipuria and Indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)