Nickelodeon and the relatively new Sonic have been growing 9-10 per cent y-o-y. EVP and GM Nina Elavia Jaipuria speaks to exchange4media about the channels’ success as well as how the kids’ genre is shaping up in India. Jaipuria also shares how animation is helping the channels create stickiness as well as the importance of having characters that children can relate to.
What are kids in India watching on television today?
They are watching everything today – GECs, sports, movies, but they are also watching kids’ content. Because they are in a one television household, kids are watching soaps and IPL. But kids being kids, they are most fond of kids’ content and characters such as Ninja, Kung Fu Panda, Dora, and Chota Bheem.
What is your content strategy for Sonic and Nick?
The content strategy is to create characters and continually deliver animation to children. We are also trying to bring some localisation at some point. We have ‘Kemon Ache’, which is our first non-mythological local production. Our aim is to create different characters with heart and minds as well as create different genres such as comedy, mythology and action. Some are our own productions, some are acquired, while some of them are from the Viacom library.
Nickleodeon has not ventured much beyond animation content. Do you think it is limiting the content offering for kids?
No, I totally believe not. We know what kids are looking for and I believe animation is the only thing that can deliver that. It’s not like we haven’t tried live action. We have done a live action show, which did fairly well. Power Rangers and Ultraman are live action shows. We have also done a news update for children. But predominantly animation is what is getting us growth, affinity and stickiness.
How is the kids’ genre shaping up in India?
Despite the fragmentation in the Indian entertainment industry, the kids’ genre has actually grown and has been growing year on year. Therefore, despite so many new choices and so many new channels and shows. Kids come back to the kids’ category because they know whatever is being made and delivered in the kids’ category is custom made for them. We know what they want and we give it to them. The fact is they want to get rid of boredom, they want to get rid of pressures such as academic pressure. They want to escape, therefore, the kids’ category is transporting kids to an imaginary world, a world where they love the characters and the animated world. Therefore, the kids’ category and kids’ genre is going to grow every year.
What are the key growth drivers in the kids’ genre?
Viewership in the kids’ genre is growing at about 7-8 per cent and the revenue has been growing well. Five years back the revenue in the kids’ genre stood at Rs 140-150 crore, whereas today it stands at Rs 250 crore. Moreover, ad sales revenue has also gone up. The growth comes from innovation, new characters and also how you capture the hearts and souls of children. One has to keep in mind how to entertain kids and keep them from getting bored, since their attention span is very short.
How are you building stickiness in the kids’ genre for a generation whose attention span is short and diversions are many?
There are a couple of things that we do to create stickiness on the channel. The biggest thing that does that for you is the characters on the channel. The trump card for Nickleodeon is the wide variety of characters that we have. The characters could be a child’s best friend, or a role model or a super hero. Thus, the child forms a relationship with the characters and shares a special bond with them.
The second part of building stickiness is that you are not a passive channel, you have not made the kids couch potatoes. At every point you are engaging with them in different ways, such as arranging contests, creating dialogue and making videos. Children nowadays are on digital media, hence we too are on digital. All these interactive activities work and the kids stick to your channel.
India is facing the spectre of yet another slowdown. How much of an impact are you seeing on ad spends?
We are not seeing anything right now, fortunately for us, in the last slowdown too we didn’t see too much change because our traditional advertisers are FMCGs, where there isn’t much cut in consumption. The cuts in spends are seen in sectors like consumer durables, retail and finance. We won’t be affected this year as well.
How are you leveraging digital/social media to engage the young audience?
We want to be contemporary. We have got nickindia.com and we have more than 15 lakh fans on our page. We have other sites as well which are liked by the fans, and even on Facebook there are many fans of Nick and Sonic. Apart from that, we are using outdoor for promotions and using theatres and malls to engage kids and give them a real experience.