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Kids genre undervalued? Advertisers, channels hold differing views

10-September-2014
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Kids genre undervalued? Advertisers, channels hold differing views

No kidding, but the kids genre on television is the third-largest one after Hindi GECs and Hindi movie channels. According to the recent genre ratings from exchange4media TAM Telepedia ratings week 35 (August 24 – 30, 2014), the Cartoon-Animation-Children Programs (kids) channel genre enjoys 6.4 per cent of total audience viewership.

Despite the solid numbers, there has been an abiding feeling among broadcasters that the genre is being undervalued. We sought expert opinion on how far this is true and whether the channels' demand for a hike in rates is justified.  

Undervalued, underpriced?

Top rated channels in the kids genre have been vying for a bigger share of the revenue pie for a long time. As per ratings from TAM subscribers week 35, Nickelodeon has been at the top of the pile for three weeks in a row with ratings of 211 TVTs. On its heels is Disney Channel India with 207 TVTs followed for Cartoon Network with 189 TVTs, Hungama with 167 TVTs and Pogo with 149 TVTs.   

“I have been saying this for the last seven years, this category is undervalued (by advertisers). What we (genre) give in terms of total viewership is almost eight-nine per cent at 4+ markets, but we don’t even have an ad revenue share of two per cent,” says Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP and Business Head – Kids Cluster, Viacom18. “And we are not a niche category. We have nine per cent of the (total) viewership, which is bigger than sports, news, music and English (GECs). After Hindi GECs and Hindi Movie channels, this is the biggest genre,” she adds.

Her views are shared by Krishna Desai, Executive Director, South Asia, Turner International. “We have always kept up our communication to our partners about how kids are only increasing their influence in purchase cycle decisions from across categories - FMCG, household items, auto products and others. Yes, the genre is undervalued. It is a known fact in the industry but the fight is on. The whole effort is to have the values corrected,” he said.    

Hike in ad rates justified?

Marketers do not think the genre is undervalued in terms of the ad rates. According to Mayank Shah, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle Products, “If you take a look recent trends you will see that the genre has been facing a downward trend in terms of viewership. Not all categories advertise on kids channels because you do not  have multiple age groups or SECs. There is secondary viewing that happens where mothers watch it to some extent, but we are still talking about specialised channels here and I don’t think they are undervalued or underpriced. Secondly, if you look at a deeper trend the kids channel genre share is dropping and that makes advertisers cautious about spending.”

This is true. From week 32 (August 3 – 9) to the current week 35 the genre’s market share has been slipping. In week 32 the market share had been 6.9 per cent, which dropped to 6.7 per cent in week 33 and further declined to 6.6 per cent in week 34, to finally reach a low of 6.4 per cent in week 35. This comes pretty close to the Tamil GEC genre which has increased its market share to 5.3 per cent currently from 4.9 per cent last week. 

Shah further adds that there has been proliferation of kids channels into sub-categories that has divided the ratings and slowed down growth, and an increase in the ad rates cannot be justified.

Commenting on the undervaluation, Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head, Media, Philips India said, “You have to consider the affinity of the channel and the target audience. If you actually do an analysis and cut on the basic rates provided on these channels, you'll see it is a decent rate that they get. After all, Hindi GECs or Hindi movies cater to a wider audience.” 

Media planners see nothing wrong in the valuation. Atul Sharma, General Manager, Starcom MediaVest said, “I think it is absolutely fine (the rates for the kids genre). For somebody who is going to be delivering in that range, it is good. Now with the ratings you would probably get on a kids channel vis-a-vis some of the third and fourth-rung GEC channels, the rates are very similar. So you can compare it to a Sahara One or some of the other channels, but I don’t think that is the case. The rates of the kids genre channels are justified right now, the genre is neither undervalued nor overvalued.” 

It would seem that despite the consensus among the channels on marketers not valuing the category enough for them to hike up rates, the sheer number of channels in the same space and the niche audience may have diluted its effect and slowed down its growth a bit. Reasons that may have prompted advertisers to be cautious with their spending.
 

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