We have different hooks for our flagship channels: Uttam Pal Singh

We have different hooks for our flagship channels: Uttam Pal Singh

Anime is the new buzzword in the kid's entertainment genre.


Mumbai: In the recent few years the kid’s content has undergone a change. Anime is the new buzzword now and how the kid’s channels are experimenting with this content now. It’s no longer young kids watching but older kids are also watching these channels and they need a different set of content to keep them hooked.

Cartoon Network India is the leading kids’ entertainment brand in India, offering the best in original animated content including multi-award-winning local and global hits like ‘Ben 10’, ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Teen Titans GO!’, ‘We Bare Bears’ and ‘Lamput’. Cartoon Network is currently available nationwide in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

CartoonNetworkIndia.com is a destination where kids can find a large selection of cartoon character-based games, videos on demand, and a community site featuring personalised avatars and message boards. Cartoon Network, a companion brand to POGO and Discovery Kids, is a brand created and distributed by Warner Bros. Discovery. 

Uttam Pal Singh, Head of Kids Cluster, South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery has been in the kid's content and animation industry for almost 20 years and has contributed to it in a 360-degree manner. From Animation to Design to Direction and Producing several award-winning Television series, shorts, commercials, campaigns to now heading Entertainment channel – Cartoon Network, POGO and Discovery Kids. 

He is the creative vision behind the successful launch of very popular Bollywood IPs ‘Little Singham’ and ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’ on Discovery Kids. 

Indiantelevision.com in an email interaction spoke to Uttam Pal Singh, Head of Kids Cluster, South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery on the rise of anime in the kid’s genre, the challenges in the genre and advertiser’s interest, and much more…

Edited Excerpts

On anime being the most talked about genre when it comes to kids’ content, when did this change happen and how has it caught the attention of kids

While Indian broadcasters have primarily focused on developing shows with relatable characters appealing to the larger kids' audience of four-ten years. However, as kids grow old, their content consumption and preferences change due to access to digital platforms, particularly among young adults. We believe there was always an opportunity, especially with the content offered for older kids. This audience demographic prefers content made with high-quality standards that also mirrors their generation and pop culture. Japanese Anime's high-octane storylines and authentic characters have significantly gained popularity in India, attracting new audiences to the genre. The growing popularity of anime that has led to the rise of fan communities known as "Otaku" and "Weebs", with fan clubs popping up on social media platforms, is a testament to the solid anime fandom.

As part of our fan-first focus and localisation strategy and given the dearth of anime content in regional languages and growing demand in India, Warner Bros. Discovery led the charge by introducing a variety of anime shows on Cartoon Network. We aim to provide exhilarating anime entertainment and launching highly sought-after series such as 'Dragon Ball Super', 'Digimon Adventure', and 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' and movies from the Dragon Ball franchise is a step to cater to the tastes of our dedicated audience. We are committed to delivering top-tier, spirited dubbed programming in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam for our viewers.   

On the recently launched 'Dragon Ball Z Kai’, how has it been received

The overwhelming success of 'Dragon Ball Super' organically led to the launch of 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' as part of our commitment to showcasing the entire franchise, which has taken the world by storm and continues engaging fans with the popular characters and their stories on the go-to destination for all anime and Cartoon Network fans in India. We implemented a comprehensive marketing campaign utilising on-air, digital, and on-ground strategies to promote the highly anticipated debut of the fan-favourite 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' series on Cartoon Network in India. The widespread audience engagement across the country and massive reach garnered by the series is a testament to the show's success. 

We presented Goku and his fantastical world through our Super Sunday showcase, giving fans another opportunity to witness the excitement and extravagance as Goku defended Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. Within a month, the 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' promo garnered over 3.6 million views on Cartoon Network India's Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook pages. Thousands of Cartoon Network and Dragon Ball fans are also getting to experience the show through mall activations across Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, and Bengaluru. 

Across our social platform, we witnessed the love for the series, where fans excitedly participated in our trivia and selfie contests. We also collaborated with Toei Animation and the show's legendary producer, Norihiro Hayashida, for a special shout-out to the growing fan community in India and invited several anime fan groups and communities to watch the show on Cartoon Network, resulting in great buzz for the premiere. We are delighted to have received such tremendous love and support and aim to bring more Dragon Ball Super story arcs and Japanese anime content to Warner Bros. Discovery Kids Network in India in multiple regional languages.

On the group in India called Otakus, which is the biggest fan following for anime content, what will be your endeavour to give this group more anime content

At Warner Bros. Discovery, our strategy has focused on putting our fans first and the growing Otaku community. We noticed that the consumption of Japanese anime, although on the rise, was accessible on limited platforms and only in Japanese or English. We decided to bridge this gap by introducing an anime line-up and content from the Dragon Ball franchise dubbed in regional languages and local nuances tailored for our Indian audiences so that they can fully enjoy the amazingly curated content and storylines. Therefore, it's no surprise that 'Dragon Ball Super', 'Digimon Adventure', and now 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' are receiving an overwhelmingly positive response. It’s our endeavour to constantly engage with the Otaku community by offering more successful Japanese anime titles on Cartoon Network India.

On how the kids’ genre in recent years fared and what has been your reach

The kids' genre, which has largely been homogenous, has evolved primarily with the audience's evolving taste and exposure to global content. At Warner Bros. Discovery, with our flagship Kids portfolio, i.e. Cartoon Network, POGO and Discovery Kids, we have positioned our content offering to appeal to a large spectrum of kids' audiences. We constantly innovate, creating newer storylines and bolstering our programming pipeline across genres. Our localisation approach and understanding of the demands and changing consumption patterns helped us stay ahead and top of mind for our audiences. We remain committed to our fans in delivering content that reflects their tastes and appeals to them.

On language feeds garnering more eyeballs as children are more conversant in their language

Yes, Indian audiences seek relatable stories with local nuances in their language, reflecting their preferences, leading to a growing demand for localised content. We tapped this trend a while ago and have been working to provide unique, indigenous IPs and adapting international content to regional languages to better cater to the tastes of our young viewers. Moreover, presenting our content and shows in multiple regional languages is a tentpole of our localisation strategy to bring fans closer to the iconic characters they love and enjoy. In the last two years, we have actively worked towards it and expanded the feeds across channels in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Marathi languages.

On that one hook, you look at when deciding on content for this genre

We have different hooks for our flagship channels. Our original international animation shows such as ‘Teen Titans Go’ and ‘Ben10’ fall under the action-comedy genre for Cartoon Network which remains the key attractive genre for kids. When looking at catering to the older kids, we led the way by bringing Japanese anime shows to the country in five regional languages and started a whole new trend.  

On advertisers’ interest in this genre, as today kids are the opinion makers in the family

The response has been great. Brands creatively engage with our network channels to reach our large loyal audience base. Thanks to the immense popularity of Cartoon Network and these fan-favourite anime characters, both traditional and non-traditional advertisers and brands continue to collaborate with us for our on-ground and on-air campaigns. Moreover, it's not just kids and parents but a growing population of young adults who love these characters, resulting in a significant rise in co-viewing and pull for brands. For the summer campaign, brands across categories such as snacks/food & beverages, personal care/hygiene, and home care have contributed to celebrate 'CN Superhero Summer'.

On how the channel is reaching a new community with this unique animation language and the summer line-up

As part of our strategy to build Cartoon Network as the ultimate anime destination for kids, we are constantly exploring new opportunities, such as collaborating with relevant content creators and communities, utilising various media platform tools, and partnering with brand and media entities to execute topical campaigns and launches. In fact, for the 'Dragon Ball Z Kai' launch, we invited the anime fan community to participate in a 'watch and win' trivia contest for special rewards. As part of the premiere campaign, Dragon Ball fandom showcased their love for Goku's world with a 'selfie contest'. Even the show's producer, Norihiro Hayashida, gave a special shoutout and invited Indian anime fans to watch the show on Cartoon Network.

For the CN Superhero Summer initiative, which celebrates the brave heroes of the Cartoon Network universe, fans are getting to experience new movies of the Dragon Ball Z franchise and 'Teen Titans Go!' to keep them engaged and entertained. Moreover, for the first time, Cartoon Network fans will meet Teen Titans as part of the on-ground activities happening in popular malls.

Our approach to engaging with fans goes beyond on-air touchpoints, and we are committed to connecting with kids, the Otaku community, and families through various initiatives throughout 2023.