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Disney hits Indian mart: Experts anticipate expansion, Rivals downplay threat

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Disney hits Indian mart: Experts anticipate expansion, Rivals downplay threat

The kids’ segment has seen a major movement with Disney entering the Indian telly market. While a new player in the market means wider choice for the audience and advertisers, for competition it can be a reason to worry. Disney, on its part, has already attracted its share of expectations from all segments.

In the context of competition, the existing channels in the genre share that the launch wouldn’t really affect them. “Our biggest competitor isn’t other kids’ channels, but ourselves,” expresses Ian Diamond, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, “We are continually striving to raise the bar and build on our success to improve our array of matchless content for the discerning Indian viewer.”

Speaking on similar lines, Purnendu Bose, COO, Hungama TV, shares, “Hungama stands differentiated from what anyone currently offers. The brand is growing and Disney’s entry doesn’t create any problem for us to establish our position.”

For Turner, the game isn’t about changing strategies to meet competition. Diamond remarks, “We continually assess what audience wants and deliver accordingly. We, with our unrivalled knowledge of the segment and skilled professionals will respond to changing market dynamics. If you don't, you will be left behind.”

Bose sees the move as a positive one. “There is huge untapped potential in this segment. The more work is done, the more the genre will develop. At the end of the day, the market growth benefits all.”

In the present scene, the undisputed leader in the Indian kids’ segment is Cartoon Network followed by Pogo. Both channels have been very active with not just inducing localised content but also increasing their share of voice. A fact that holds true for Nick as well. Alongside introducing new programmes, Nick too is ensuring that it talks more to the Indian viewer.

For the segment, Disney does throw up serious competition. However, more than concern, the leader shows confidence, “We have our finger on the Indian kids’ pulse. And if our experience is anything to go by, we have learnt that it is essential to strike the right balance between local and international content. The key words are premium and quality, which are synonymous with Cartoon Network and Pogo. Our viewers have come to expect award-winning, superior, top-of-the-line programming and we will not disappoint them. It's all about showing compelling programming that kids will want to watch,” claims Diamond.

The industry experts have mixed opinions on Disney’s entry. Charles Jenarius, CEO, Carat Media, stresses that the move will lead to fragmentation in the market, “It is primarily the kids’ channels where we will see changes. With Cartoon Network as the clear leader, it is the second slot that channels are competing for. Disney is a serious contender to occupy that position immediately. And with right content and communication, nothing stops it from growing further.”

He shares that Disney already holds strong equity in India, “It plays a role not only on-screen but also off-screen in the form of its merchandise. This dual presence makes it a powerful brand.”

A point echoed by PRP Nair, President, Media Direction, “Disney is already a familiar name with the children and parents today. They know and trust these programmes. Even though it is early days, the channel will deliver.”

Nair sees more of expansion than fragmentation, “The kids’ segment is rapidly growing. Children and the older audience watch these channels. For instance, Pogo is becoming a craze with the older TG. I don’t think Disney will really eat into any one’s share.”

When asked about the state of single TV households that are predominant in the Indian market, experts believe that as is the case in most buying decisions, even here parents will give into pester power. “There definitely will be an impact on television but on which channels, we still have to see,” says Nair.

“We will essentially see specific day-parts delivering for kids’ channels, like weekday evenings and weekends. There would be an impact on other channels as well but a very marginal one,” shares Jenarius.

Evidently many recognise the power of the little rodent with big ears. The games have begun today. Just a few more days and we will know whether Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck with their team can take over Tom & Jerry’s squad in India.


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