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MIPJunior: Can Indian animation make its mark?

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CANNES: As the MIPJunior Lab got filled with an inquisitive audience, “The Passage to India" session began with the moderator, Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, giving facts and figures about the kids broadcasting space in India.

Wanvari started off by mentioning the humungous size of the 0-14 year population group – at 350 million at last count, which is expected to touch 375 million or so by 2020. Which is why the Indian market is attractive, he pointed out for kids programming and animation. Highlighting statistics from 2015 data, he stated that localization is helping the 20-plus kids channels operating in India up the local-international ratio from 10:90 to 80:20. With that wide a ratio and language dubs of each channel, content from the US dominates the television market with about 44 per cent, Japan 17 per cent, India 16 per cent, the UK and France four per cent, Canada one per cent; and if compared to statistics of 2014, it was 42 per cent, 17 per cent, 13 per cent, seven per cent and four per cent, three per cent, respectively.

These statistics clearly paint the picture of how locally produced shows are being favoured not just by the audience but also the broadcasters. The top six to eight spots of the kids genre are occupied by locally produced programmes such as Motu-Patlu and Chotta Bheem, among others.

Wanvari pointed out that kids genre accounts for six minutes per cent of total viewership and most of the kids content is in animation format the production cost of which per 30 minutes is between Rs 1.5 to six million.

After introducing the panelists - Green Gold Animation founder and CEO, Rajiv Chilaka, Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gaurav Gandhi, Cosmos-Maya founder, Anish Mehta, and Graphiti Multimedia director and COO Munjal Shroff, Wanvari threw the question to the panelists asking what makes the prospects of the Indian animation sector so bright this time around; earlier attempts have failed.

He also queried them about how the Indian animation space has changed over the years, in which areas are the opportunities available for international players, and what content works for broadcasters and digital platform for kids.

Chilaka mentioned, “Back in 2001, there was only one channel catering to kids segment and now, there are 25-plus channels which showcase content produced locally as well. Over the years, the quality of animation, the technology, the services provided all have improved, and to support that, are the increased budgets.”

Speaking about the international market, Shroff commented, “Through our show 'Kulveera', we did a case study with Cartoon Network UK wherein we produced a pilot episode and gauged the response of the audience and it was interesting to see that kids loved the show.” So, as long as one’s series has a strong storytelling going on, the place from where the content originates hardly matters.

Mehta’s animation studio Cosmos-Maya has been doing wonders and, at present, has three co-production deals going on. “Our co-production deals are with Italian, French and German companies. We will be launching the French co-produced show 'Captain Cactus' which was made in association with Euope's well-known film maker Olivier Jean-Marie,” expounded Mehta.

“Over the period of 20 years, our work has evolved from being a service company to IP production, and finally we are at a stage where we can co-produce.”

With the advent of digital platform, and Voot being probably the biggest kids SVOD service, Gandhi added, “It’s said that, in next three years, more homes will be have the streaming device than television sets. We are an open market, and ready to buy any good content.”

Mehta also stated that, for co-productions to work, it’s necessary that one needs to understand the demographics. “Personally, after doing research, we follow a mixed model which blends well with both the countries.

Since 'Captain Cactus' is a co-production between India and Europe, the animation style and narrative is set according to the tastes of audience of both the countries."

The session was wrapped up with Q&A round wherein many people were interested in learning more about how can they work with not just Indian animation studios but also on how their content can work across the various platforms.

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