Mark Eyers VP-Network-Kids, APAC & CCO-Kids APAC, of Turner International Asia Pacific in a free willing chat with exchange4media talks about the challenges in the India market, under pricing of the kids genre, ad cap and the ratings mechanism in India.
What is your view of India as a market, as compared to the other markets?
It is an incredible market. We have just finished with a fantastic 2013, with CN and POGO as number one and two. We are pretty happy with the results. India is important to us as part of APAC as it plays a part in overall performance. We launched CN in India in 1995. We have realized that kids around the world are more alike than being different. Cartoons across the globe are fit to be seen as visual and audio. We have a great dubbing team as well. We are happy that a global brand like Cartoon Network can be number one and two in the genre, in India. It is number one in many other countries as well and we can see the success of the same shows and franchisees here as well.
Do you deal with short attention span of kids in other markets as well?
Kids, as I mentioned are more alike than different. What is more different and what we are seeing here is, that viewership of TV isn’t going down. We are seeing that the short attention shift towards the second screen and others is complementing the linear view. The great news is that we have to keep evolving and that is why we have launched Carton Network “watch and play” in APAC and one can watch the channel in clips and play the game at the same time.
In APAC we have had three million video views in January from Asia alone. The perception needs to be corrected that the volatility is complementing the linear view. Across APAC, we saw 10% increases in ratings of our international channels in 2013 which is good news for linear platforms.
What is your take on POGO?
The great thing about POGO is that it complements Cartoon Network except that it is more local. Cartoon Network has 80% international content while POGO has more of local content.We have varied content for the channel in forms of movies, local shows, etc. We have always wanted to stay ahead of viewership pattern. What resonates very well in India is long form of content. We have invested in that format as well.
So you launched POGO in India because you thought the need for local content is far more here than anywhere else?
Not necessarily. We just launched an equally successful local execution where we used international content only and launched a free-sat channel in Thailand which is already reaching 11 million people, a lot more than a cartoon Network which is a on a pay true vision platform. We are getting into 65% the audience share of that channel and that is local execution. These are the examples of the other parts of the world as well. One needs to be close to the market as well. So Cartoon Network is more of a global outlook and POGO has more of a local outlook, but if the opportunity is there and you can speak to the audiences which is the most important I thing one should do that, which we did in Thailand. So it is not just India.
Do you see a shift in the audiences of the kids genre form linear to digital?
Digital compliments linear! As environment evolves in India and we are going from a predominantly single channel market, connectivity and infrastructure increases exponentially we will see more opportunities and applications like watch and play. I think India will still evolve on that parameter.
What are the prime parameters you keep in mind before finalising content for the Indian market?
First and foremost is on-brand. Is the content fitting with the image of the brand Cartoon Network? Values like comedy, animation are common around the world for the network. Therefore it must be a CN fit. Secondly we often look at shows that have a sound of humour or are physical comedy driven. Example: Tom and Jerry, one does not need audio on to enjoy the show. Physical humour is a very important universal parameter for us.
Third parameter would be the originality. Is it surprising? Even if it is a part of the DNA of the network it can’t be a universal comedy which you have seen before. It has to be unique for Cartoon Network. These are the three things we have long debates about.
Do you think the genre is underpriced in India?
Yes. If you look at the 4+ numbers in India, we are 7% of the entire audience share, but we only represent only 3% of the revenue. As the industry evolves and matures I think media buyers would see the inference kids have on family decisions and money. When we have a channel like POGO which is not only addressing kids, but the family as a whole! I think this perception of undermine the audience in this genre is likely to change as industry evolves. Also a single TV home is also a major factor in India which hampers pricing for the genre.
What is your view on ad cap?
We are a global company and we have dealt with ad caps, so that is not an issue of concern for us in India.
Do you think the television ratings system in India is up to the mark?
India as any other markets we work in has had challenges with sample sizes, measurements, and all rest of it. One must work in the currency and environment. I look at ratings in the long term. Every year the panel is expanded. So we take a long term view on this. The industry will sort itself out. Only when the media works together, can such challenges be addressed.