Come summers and the kids genre goes into overdrive to get some extra mileage out of the school vacation season. Most of the popular kids channels in India at present are either in English or in Hindi. Whatever vernacular content is created for kids is either part of the GEC content mix or is dubbed audio tracks of national kids channels. The trend of separate kids channels in regional languages haven’t caught up yet and whether they will at all taste success is the big question here.
Recently, Sun TV Network Ltd added two kids channels to its bouquet. Kushi TV and Chintu TV went on air as 24-hour kids’ channels in Telugu and Kannada languages, respectively, with effect from April 12, 2009. Sun also has a kids channel called Chutti TV in Tamil. Other than these channels, there doesn’t exist any separate kids channels in these languages.
Kids genre has scope, but road ahead not easy
Considering the fact that regional markets have the same needs and expectations of media, there is definitely a scope for regional kids channels to have a demand just as their national counterparts. But there is definitely a lot that needs to be done before creating a sustainable market for the genre.
Narendra Kumar Alambara, General Manager, Starcom Worldwide, Chennai, said, “the kids channels have to deliver to targeted audiences with formatted programming, build up critical mass of viewership base and thereby attract advertisers to sustain the momentum.If these 3 parameters can be fulfilled, any medium can be successful. Is there a scope for Regional Kids Channel? the simple answer is yes. Will or can it be sustained over time? the answer is not so simple and will depend on how successful they are in creating differentiated content, their ability to attract eyeballs (among kids & others) and in marketing it to the Advertisers.”
According to Sindhu Raghavan, Partner, Client Leadership, Mindshare, Chennai, “As is the case with older audience segment, there is a strong preference for regional content consumption amongst kids TG and that will drive the space in these markets. Prior to launch of Chutti TV, viewership for channels in this genre was skewed towards those that carried vernacular content and Chutti's entry only capitalised on this need gap. One look at the top 10 channels will show that while mass reach channels continue to rule the roost but the vernacular kids genre will grab eyeballs largely from Eng/ Hindi players existing in the kids genre.”
New options for regional advertisers as well as viewers
What does the option of new channel mean for the advertisers and viewers? For the advertisers it definitely gives the option of a more focused reach and for the viewers a bigger basket of options. But creating a foothold and brand loyalty among kids is the real challenge for this new upcoming genre.
Alambara said, “Regional Channels in a sense will help focus the brand reach within the key markets. If they are currently using the national Kids options, now they have a choice or alternative. As far as the viewers go kids as consumers, are the most difficult segment to please - given their short attention span and need for differentiated entertainment, the channels need to innovate constantly.”
Given that Brands like Disney, Pogo & Cartoon Network have built their equity over a long time with consistent programming & marketing, it will take the new channels to have strong and distinct programming, aggressive marketing coupled with robust distribution to make a mark.
Distribution and expanding advertising base
On the revenue front, these vernacular kids channels do have the option to gain from an expanding advertising base as well as big established players. But given the easy availability of vernacular audio tracks in the national channels, the competition will surely be tough.
Commenting on this Sindhu Raghavan said, “The limitation with Sun channels is the activation part which today works in favour of other kids channels. Should this be addressed then the first ones to get hit will be the non vernacular kids channels.”
New channels not a prudent option
Alambara feels, “as a genre, it is really an extreme niche when evaluated at a regional level. While new players might enter the field at a national level (as they will get the scale over a large geography, making up for the niche genre), it might not be a prudent option for regional players to enter this domain for now.”
Expressing similar opinions Raghavan said, “Given that competitors to Sun has today diversified into offering unique content channels in the market there could be a possibility in long run...but not immediately.”
The launch of a few vernacular kids channels by Sun definitely has given both the advertisers and viewers some newer options this summer, but the option of local audio tracks used by the national players still seems to be an easier option.