Guest column: 2020 has been full of new learnings for content creators

An opportunity to collate experiences and package it into an interactive virtual ecosystem.

MUMBAI: Summer vacations typically start from the month of April leading up to June, a period when content consumption amongst children is usually at its peak for kids entertainment channels. This arrived as early as March this year owing to pandemic-induced lockdown and has continued since. To meet this increased consumption demand of our young viewers, our production houses worked remotely and delivered fresh content throughout the pandemic to keep them entertained. We utilised this time for reflection on the content mix and content journey, hence we have also given them brand new content with the launch of our first chase-comedy show, Pyaar Mohabbat, Happy Lucky; and continued it with another new show in the mythology genre – Krishna Balram.  We also expanded our language feed from seven to nine languages with the launch of Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal in two new language feeds, Gujarati and Kannada. The consumption pattern also moved towards consuming long forms, adapting to which Sony Yay! released 15 new Honey Bunny movies this season.

We improvised our existing plans and adopted a fresh approach of omni-channel presence of our characters to keep up with our young viewers and entertain them throughout. We commenced this journey with our summer campaign – What’s Your Summer Plan? –announcing exciting new episodes, telemovies of our marquee characters along with new shows. We also launched a unique workshop series called Yay! Summer Camp brought together artists and experts from various fields to create videos on art and craft, Zumba, storytelling and more. In addition to this, the Yay! the ecosystem was expanded to cater the fans with special Honey Bunny themed mobile games and interactive Honey Bunny themed Instagram filters.

Biggest takeaway from 2020

Entertainment becomes transformative and necessary in the lives of people in times of crisis like the one we’ve witnessed. 2020 has been a year of learnings and thus, witnessing the shifts and increase in demand for fresh content, we quickly readapted to the situation to create more content thus, while also curating more potential ways to connect with our young audiences. While television continued to be the staple mode of entertainment, the digital medium also took huge precedence. Both kids and gatekeepers have had a dynamic shift in their behaviour, content consumption and perspective. This led us to create new ways of connecting with them through their favourite characters on television as well as digital.

New skillsets learned during this time

This year we have seen dramatic shifts in lifestyle and content consumption amongst kids. Thus, we understood that it is paramount to expand our ecosystem offerings and broaden our horizons beyond television. Sony Yay! also enhanced its digital outreach by creating a digital portfolio with immersive workshops, interactive Instagram filters, special Honey Bunny games, and extensive outreach for relevant influencers of the community. Furthermore, in 2020 we have also enhanced our engagement skills by creating experiences for kids in the form of virtual offerings.

Technology has played an important role

Apart from the tantamount benefits of technology, the one that stood out for the kids’ entertainment category during the pandemic is helping us stay connected to our young viewers and to our production houses. Our production houses operated remotely and kept creating fresh content meeting its increased demand in the category, thanks to the advancement in technology. This is an opportunity for content creators like us to collate all our experiences and package it into an interactive virtual ecosystem. Also, with higher internet penetration and multi-screen availability, online gaming has witnessed exponential growth and we have tapped into this trend with some of our popular games Honey Bunny ka Jetpack, Kicko & Superspeedo game, Merge Super Speedo exceeding expectations with an incredible one million+, 10 million+, one million+ downloads, respectively, so far.    

Is TV being monetised enough?

In India, TV has always been a staple in almost every household and accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the total advertising expenditure in the country in 2019. The kid's entertainment category is still extremely under-indexed with a huge gap in the ad rates compared to some other categories. That said, with high-quality engaging content, we have seen constant growth in viewership and brands also warming up to increase their spending.  

(The author is business head, Sony Pictures Networks India kids’ genre. may not subscribe to her thoughts.)

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