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Digitisation hasn't benefited channels like us: Krishna Desai

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Digitisation hasn't benefited channels like us: Krishna Desai

In a free willing chat with exchange4media, Krishna Desai, Senior Director & Network Head - Kids, South Asia, Turner International India, feels that the kids’ genre has space for more channels to come in, and consequently, the genre will expand and get fragmented in the future.

Kids have a very short attention span. How do you deal with this high volatility?
We have been in the business for over a decade now. Pogo is the No. 1 channel in the genre. Cartoon Network is the No. 2 channel. We have learnt a lot about kids operating in the area. Basic things are very simple to understand, but difficult to execute. Most importantly, you have to have a story that is appealing to kids and have characters that they connect with. At the same time, these characters have to be fantastic in nature. Therefore, they must be doing things which kids can’t do, or aspire to do, for example, superhero characters such as Krrish, Bheem, etc. It is very important for a kid to relate to the character, after that dreams, aspirations all become a subset of it. Our main strength, therefore, is connection with the characters. We produce a fantasy which kids connect with.

What are the new initiatives undertaken by Cartoon Network?
There have been many new initiatives. ‘Krrish – The Movie’ was one. We also did Chakra, Stan Lee, etc. We are refreshing our hit content. Kids as an audience come and watch 2-3 shows particularly. They don’t watch 10-12 shows. So, if they like a certain show, we make sure that we make it newer and better every time. Therefore, many initiatives are underway.

When you did ‘Krrish – The Movie’, what was going on in your mind? Has your belief in a movie for the subject and not a series changed with time?
In case of a movie of about an hour, if you have a compelling enough story, then on an average all kids would watch it for at least 15 minutes. So, 25 per cent of the content is watched by all the kids in general. That is a huge number, which you don’t get on a regular basis. Secondly, if one takes two episodes of 30 minutes each, with different content and story line and excellent individual stories played back to back, the sum of the time which a kid spends in that one hour is less than the 15 minutes he spends in watching a movie. Long format content works, especially on holidays, etc.

Has there been a change in the delivery platform for the channel, such as digital, mobile, etc.?
Firstly, we are a mass channel and do not belong to a niche genre. We have 7-7.5 per cent of the entire TV viewership pie. Therefore, once you are in a mass genre, you have to make sure that you are at every platform, be it TV, digital, etc. Cartoon Network and Pogo are available across in almost 99 per cent of the homes, be it digital or analog.

Secondly, digitisation has not really helped us much. The prime intention of digitisation was to give a consumer more choice and transparency in addressability in the cable ecosystem. But the bigger advantage is on the broadcasting side. For example, if one was present in 40 per cent of the homes earlier, post digitisation he is now is now available in 80 per cent of the homes at the same carriage fee. However, in our case we were already present in 80 per cent of the homes. So it did not make much difference to us. Out of the 16 channels in the kids’ genre, five control 90 per cent of the viewership. Digitisation has not affected them much. For the more niche channels, digitisation is an opportunity to get more sampled and to expand.

If the viewership pie is 7.5 per cent, how much is the ad pie in the genre?
It is 3 per cent and is hugely underpriced.

Why is the ad pie underpriced?
There are two reasons for the underpricing. Firstly, marketers generally consider kids to be an audience who do not have money in their pocket. Secondly, even after telling marketers that kids have an important role in family decision making, marketers have started taking a note that kids are important secondary audience. Forty per cent of our advertising comes from advertisers who are not targeting kids directly, for example, automobiles, BFSI, etc. But even then it is hugely underpriced. Viewership of our channels in 15+ audiences is also significant. We have a high viewership from adults in the form of co-viewing. These two factors affect advertising in the genre.

Most of the content in the kids’ genre is usually off-shored? What do you think stops people from making more of Indian content?
Pogo runs on 80 per cent of content that is home grown. Cartoon Network has 80 per cent international content and 20 per cent local content. We would want to make shows that cut across all kinds of demographics. Certain shows such as ‘Mr Bean’ and ‘Tom & Jerry’ cut across demographics. Animation is another genre that cuts across demographics, because you don’t have blacks or whites talking. Travel is another genre which cuts across demographics. I can’t comment about other channels, but Pogo has the highest percentage of Indian content. At Cartoon Network, by strategy we keep the content global as it is a global brand.

Where do you see the kids’ genre going from here?
We hope that the genre gets corrected in terms of advertising price. Secondly, as multiple TV homes grow, we hope that the viewership pie of kids expands. Currently, it is around 20 per cent, because 95 per cent of the homes are single TV homes.

Thirdly, on the delivery platform we don’t see TV going away very soon. TV will remain the mainstay in India. But since kids are the earliest adopter of technology, we see them consuming media in a non-linear way. This is growing.  There is still space for new channels to enter this genre. Therefore, I see the genre expanding and getting fragmented in the future.

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