For Indian television, general entertainment is still the order of the day. But this has not deterred the growth of niche channels. With POGO already in place, UTV too is showing more confidence in its intention of floating a kids channel. What is interesting here is that this channel will include 100 per cent original Hindi content. Since this is currently an empty slot, it is worth seeing if Star beats UTV to cash in the first mover advantage.
Though a lot has been said about Star’s kids channel, not much action or development is seen there yet. However, from what was initially discussed on the channel, one detail was that the channel would generate original Hindi content instead of the dubbed international content that is seen on the present kids channels on Indian television. What stands out about UTV’s kids channel is also this detail, as there is a gap in the market currently for such specialised content.
United Home Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., a company promoted by Ronnie Screwvala, where UTV and other external bodies hold a stake, is launching the channel. The name of the channel is not yet decided but the content creators have short-listed five names that will be researched before confirmation. The channel aims to go live between July to September 2004.
Says Purnendu Bose, COO, New Ventures, UTV, “A lot of work is done on the channel but a lot has to be still put into place. There is no second chance to make the first impression. When we go on air, we have to be sure we are perfect.”
The target group is 4 to 18 years. Bose explains, “The viewership number is huge. It’s literally a third of the populace. There really is nothing that is specially created for this section right now, so there is tremendous scope. Whether you look at it from the viewer point of view or advertiser.”
In this space, whom does he identify as competition? “I don’t really think we are at the stage where there is competition. The more players there are, the more development there will be. Right now, there is space for everyone. The best part about television perhaps is that it is the perfect tool to generate different targets at different day parts.”
There is substantial place for a channel like this and given that UTV is a content provider itself, there are a few expectations attached as well. Bose expresses, “We have provided multi genre content but kids programming is an area where we have constantly delivered. But even as we wear a broadcaster’s hat, the idea still is to source content from various producers. We will include multi-genre programming that is animated and non-animated content, which will include drama, live events, format shows etc. Quality is the word and there will be no compromise.”
There are few loose ends to be tied up. Apart from the content line up, the infrastructure and up linking has to be taken care of. The company is still seeking tie ups and distribution partners. Also a lot of research is underway to identify what time slots on the channel would be strong and can be developed. United Home Entertainment has divided the work of the channel in two phases. Phase one is launch and phase two includes operating costs until break even point. The planned investment for both phases is Rs 100 crore.