Krishna Desai, Network Head, Kids Entertainment, Turner International speaks about some of the key trends that the kids’ genre saw in 2014, digitization issues on ground, the challenge of fragmentation of audiences and more.
What were the key highlights of the TV broadcast industry in 2014?
One of the biggest highlight was the aggregator paper that has really shaken and moved the industry. That also is the continual digitization, putting into place Phase III and IV and its implementation on the ground. There are still many issues on ground basically. So that I think is the second big highlight. And I think a third one could be if you look at audience trends across all channels on television on the whole, you find that it is getting more fragmented. It is not a new trend but just that it got more pronounced than before. The same amount of time (about two hours a day) that an average viewer has for many years and the number of channels that the viewer is watching is only going up. So there is more fragmentation as a result of that the main thing is it is getting more challenging for broadcasters and they have to be more on their toes to make sure that the quality of storytelling in terms of engagement or in terms of production values or in terms of promotion have gone much higher than before to get audiences in a more fragmented market.
With regards to your genre what where the key highlights in 2014?
It’s a mixed bag actually for Turner especially in the kids’ genre. On the positive side we continued the record that we had set in 2013, which is probably a worldwide, we had two channels in the same genre in the same company that occupied No.1 & No.2 positions. We didn’t find any such example in the whole world in any genre. So that was true for Cartoon Network and Pogo in India for the year 2013, it was also true for the first couple of quarters of this year. That was a positive part. Unfortunately in the last couple of quarters that is not the case. It is tougher to remain at the top than to reach it sometimes. We retained that top 2 positions for 18 months but last few months are channels are not No.1 and 2. The second thing in the kids genre is an increase in volumes and consumption of local content. Turner was the company that entered and sort of created the kids genre in 1995 and then created a partnership with the local animation industry to help them make local content and showcased it to the country and then co-produced, co-developed and acquired content - the desi toons strategy - and we only increased the partnership with the industry to create more and more IPs and more and more volumes of content. We feel that other players in the genre are also adopting a similar strategy and with all the channels and broadcaster in the kids’ genre combined doing the same thing we have seen the highest volume of local content on TV channels in the kids genre.
What about the under indexing of the genre in the industry?
Nothing has changed honestly, the under pricing ratio has remained the same there has not been any improvement at this level. Unfortunately it still remains an issue for the whole industry.
Which properties have done really well for your channels in 2014?
Going by the trend in the kids category in all ‘less is more’ has become a mantra. You go deeper into each franchise where they have 10 different franchises of shows. So we have four or five theme shows on each channel which have given her much high ratings this year and contributed to the channels GRPs and we will continue to push more shows as well next year. So for example on Cartoon Network we have Ben Ten, Tom & Jerry, Roll 21, etc. Apart from these we will have more Cartoon Network originals which will see the light of day in a much prominent fashion. As far as Pogo goes, it has its flagship Chota Bheem this year and next year. It has LCP (Lights, Camera, Pogo) the movie franchise we have which has movies which were originally produced in animation live action which is movies from 3rd parties in the live action Bollywood space or in the animation space from here and overseas. It has been a good franchise for us and we will continue to invest in it as well. Then you have shows like Mr. Bean, Loony Toons which have given very good returns this year and a show called Mighty Raju which has been limited amount of volumes but very high ratings at low volumes, you will see more of that next year on Pogo. There are at least 6 or 7 shows, which I can’t talk about now, on both the channels which will see launched in various parts of 2015.
What are your plans of syndication of content outside the country?
Roll No.21 is one show where we are experimenting with launching it on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in South East Asia. Because it is tough to make shows travel if they are created for a particular market but our aim is to one experiment with shows which we already have and second is we create shows moving forward. We will take the ambitious task of creating shows in India which no one has done and designing it in such a way that it has the ability to travel across boundaries from day one.