Chikoo and Bunty’s universal appeal will drive co-viewability for Nick: Anu Sikka

Sikka discusses her content strategy at Nickelodeon’s 11th IP launch

Mumbai: Kids’ entertainment franchise Nickelodeon is all set for the launch of its 11th animated IP "Chikoo Aur Bunty." Starting 18 October, the 11-minute episodic series will bring alive the epic sibling banter and the playful rivalry between them through the story of the two brothers Chikoo and Bunty, who live with their parents and a playful and intelligent dog Barfi. The channel has roped in Philips, Pediasure, and Flipkart shopsy as sponsors for the upcoming launch.

Nickelodeon witnessed a successful last year on the back of its tenth IP launch and the lockdowns boosting viewership for the kids category. The growth story continues unchallenged in 2021. Overall, the Nickelodeon franchise including Nick, Sonic, and Nick Jr. had the highest network share of 33 per cent over Disney’s (26) and Turner’s (17) and reach of 50 million over Turner (34) and Disney (32) as per Barc data (India U+R, 2-14 NCCS ABC, Week 14-38’21, 07-23hrs). According to Ormax Small Wonders, August 2021, five out of the top ten characters and eight of 20 belong to Nick.

Entering into the spooky comedy space, Nickelodeon came up with the animated series ‘Pinaki & Happy - The Bhoot Bandhus’ on Sonic in November 2020. The show which commands 30 per cent of Sonic’s viewership today was a runaway hit among kids, consistently appearing in the top 10 highest rated slots of the category every week since its launch.

On the advertising front, Nickelodeon claims to be the leader commanding a 35 per cent revenue share for FY21. The channel has seen a proliferation in the categories of advertisers coming on board, especially owing to the recent trend of co-viewership wherein kids are joined by young parents and other family members in watching animated shows. While FMCG continues to dominate the genre, e-commerce and F&B brands are also picking up in comparison. The overall kids’ category, though, continues to be under-indexed despite accounting for seven per cent of total TV viewership which had shot up to nine per cent during the pandemic. caught up with Viacom18, head - creative content and research for kids’ TV network, Anu Sikka to discuss her content strategy that has propelled Nick to success. 

Creating new characters and stories

With shows such as ‘Happy & Pinaki – The Bhoot Bandhus’, ‘Ting Tong’, ‘Golmaal Jr.’, ‘Motu Patlu’, ‘Shiva’, ‘Rudra’ and others, Nickelodeon boasts 700+ hours of content and over 1500 episodes across genres including a slice of life, slapstick, magic, action-adventure, and spooky-comedy, among others. As a brand that recognises the importance of localised content that’s appealing to Indian kids, ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’ will be another addition to Nick’s shows in the slice of life genre where the concept of sibling rivalry has not been explored earlier. 

Sikka tells us that the two key factors that are considered before coming up with any new IP, character or show at Nick are ‘how relatable is it for kids’ and ‘does it fire up or capture their imagination’. In the case of ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’, says Sikka, “the sibling rivalry being an everyday, unending saga in every family, the relatability factor is going to be very high. It is not just the story of these two characters, but that of every kid.”

Nick credits its success to the fact that it owns all its IPs that are developed by its team of young professionals. The brand relies on the power of observation to find new characters and plots which are then mapped onto the white spaces in content.

Sikka shares that the strategy of translating these observation-based concepts into the first few episodes and then tweaking them based on feedback from children has worked well for the brand. Commenting on whether the advertising potential of the characters and plots is factored in during the development stages, she adds, “The primary purpose for us is to create a successful show. Once you have these characters becoming popular with the audience then it can lend to various other things such as video games, advertising, and endorsements.”

Popular formats

Nick has content ranging from 60-second shorts to 90-minute TV movies. The shows are mostly seven, 11, and 22 minutes. There are mini-movies of 45 minutes and longer ones of 60, 75, and 90 minutes.

This ensures a variety of content, “all of which is enjoyed by kids, although the 11-minuters are most popular with them” according to Sikka. “Majority of the shows on Nick are 11-minute stories. While the character and backdrop of a series stay the same, each one is an independent story. Even when two 11 minuters are played out in a 22-minute slot, the track we follow is independent, and not linear. The idea is that kids who do not have the patience to sit for long can walk in any time and enjoy the content that’s available.”

These 11-minuters have also shown the highest repeat value with kids, as compared to 22- minute stories. “Children are used to watching stories that are crisp. 11-minuters allow you to create a script where you are able to tell the stories effectively while doing justice to all elements. For instance, for our chase comedy ‘Pakdam Pakdai’ seven minutes is perfectly justified, but if you have to tell a story that has more than one element such as humour and action, 11 minutes is the perfect duration,” Sikka adds.

Changing viewership trends

Viewership for the kids category is quite fluid and seasonal, with the prime time depending heavily on the kids’ school calendars. However, with children staying home during the pandemic, the time band from 8 am to 1-2 in the afternoon witnessed a substantial boost.  This also holds for vacation times when more content is watched in the morning and afternoon, rather than in the evening.

As schools re-open in a staggered manner across the country, Sikka informs that she and her team are closely observing the developments and planning lives accordingly. “For now as we sail in both the boats, we are ensuring original content in the morning, followed by an immediate repeat in the evening time band. We will make scheduling changes as needed.”

Another important and very positive trend that picked up steam during the pandemic years was that of co-viewership happening on the channel. Sikka hopes that with the exception of toddlers who will find it difficult to comprehend the new dialogue-heavy comedy, ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’ will drive this trend forward with its across-the-board appeal. 

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