Even as Disney is poised for a smooth launch and the kids’ space is cramped with increasing number of players, Cartoon Network is confident of holding on to its share of the revenue pie. Onlookers from the media camp are scrutinizing the kids’ market with a closed eye, trying to figure out what the line of differentiation is between the various offerings aimed at the little people and which channel has a greater reach – both amongst kids and young moms.
While brands like Kellogg’s, Cadbury’s and Boost have been the champions of kids’ entertainment, non-traditional brands such as Brooke Bond, Tata Indica and Maruti Udyog have also started looking at children’s entertainment with a favourable eye. Suddenly the spotlight is on entertainment for the juniors, which is why it’s imperative that Cartoon Network clears its position in the scheme of things.
Says Anshuman Misra, Managing Director, Turner International India, “Turner pioneered the genre of kids’ entertainment in India by launching Cartoon Network way back in 1995. Eight years and several innovative and pioneering steps later, Cartoon Network is the No 1 kids channel in India, attracting top traditional as well as non-traditional marketers of kids’ items. Plus, I am proud to say that in the Indian TV industry, Cartoon Network is the only genre specific channel that competes against nationally distributed general entertainment channels and holds its own stand.”
Misra further points out that in India the two top kids channels are Cartoon Network in the cartoon/animation genre, and POGO, the leading channel in the multi-genre segment. “I am pleased to say both these channels enjoy a lion's share of the Indian advertising and distribution market. This clearly establishes that we have our finger on the pulse of Indian kids. Having said that, I would like to add that we welcome competition. As experience tells us, the entry of serious players in kids’ television entertainment will only help grow the segment further,” Misra observed.
So, what kind of advertising growth are we talking about? Says Misra, “The Network has recorded an overall 20 per cent year-on-year growth in 2003. Besides, the channels have added another dimension to the Network's appeal by attracting several non-traditional clients like BPCL, Red Label, Citibank, etc, to sign on the iconic Network characters as their brand ambassadors.”
What all has Cartoon Network done in the sphere of ‘desi’ programming? Misra explains, “Recently, we acquired the ‘Panchatantra’ inspired ‘Jungle Tales’, produced by Moving Picture Company. We have made consistent efforts on this front, year after year. In 2001, we took on ‘Pandavas –The Five Warriors’ and ‘Sinbad – Beyond the veil of mists’, both produced by Chennai-based Pentamedia Graphics. In 2002, we took on ‘Ramayana – The Legend of Prince Ram’ produced by Nippon Films, Japan, and with Ram Mohan, one of India’s leading animation producers, in the loop. In 2003, we had the adventures of ‘Tenali Raman’ produced by Trivandrum-based Toonz Animation Studios, ‘Alibaba & Forty Thieves’ by Pentamedia Graphics, and the ‘Adventures of Chhota Birbal’ by Mumbai-based CB Media Ventures.”
Is Cartoon Network worried that with the advent of Disney, it would lose favour with the media community? Says Misra, “Our experience has shown that if compelling programming is provided, multiple channels in the same genre can help grow the audience pie. We firmly believe that regardless of the number of channels, premium quality content that can engage a child and make him loyal to the channel will be the key differentiator in a competitive market.”
As things stand, Cartoon Network is confident of holding on to its place in the market, and does not quite expect Disney to topple its apple cart. Misra sums up, “Viewers of POGO and Cartoon Network have come to expect award-winning, superior programming, and we will not cut corners. It’s all about showing compelling programming that the kids will want to watch.”