Broadcasters are investing in local animation content: Uttam Pal Singh, Discovery Kids

Guest Column: Singh, Business Head, Discovery Kids says the shift in programming from a majority foreign content to locally produced content is a good sign and has added to the growth of the industry

Uttam Pal Singh

We are living in the best era of local original content. There was a time when kids’ programming on television was relegated to a few hours per week, wedged somewhere between different genres, mainly TV serials. Over the years this changed as kids’ channels made an appearance focusing solely on providing quality entertainment for children. And today, the industry is going through yet another massive change. 

There was a time when children’s entertainment was all about shows and animated characters that were produced internationally. We, the older generation, grew up watching a lot of them. And while they entertained us, they lacked relatability and local flavour. But children today have animated heroes that have been produced locally – heroes they can understand, relate to and emulate. Heroes like Little Singham on Discovery Kids for instance. This shift in programming from a majority foreign content to locally produced content is a good sign and has added to the growth of the industry. 

As far as kids’ genre in India is concerned, 2018 was a fascinating year; but 2019 is going to be a year of tremendous growth and investments. As per BARC, TV viewing audiences in India have grown despite the proliferation of the digital medium. Kids Genre (Urban) has been growing at a CAGR of 32 per cent in terms of impressions from 2016 onwards (vs CAGR of 14 per cent on Any TV, India Urban for the corresponding period). The question is not about the audience choosing one over the other. It isn’t TV or digital – for the audience, it’s the quality of content that is truly driving the growth on both TV and digital. And this is evident from the time spent on kids’ TV channels which is also growing Y-O-Y along with the many online players that are cropping up in the genre. This has led to a spur in more investments being made in creating and producing this content giving rise to an entire industry of designers and animators who are working to create the next Little Singham who will capture the imagination of children across India. 

I am very positive about the Kids genre and business surrounding this genre in 2019 and for the times to come. I give credit to kids’ broadcasters for continuously and consciously investing in local content, for production houses, designers and animators who are telling great stories and our audience our patrons, kids and parents, who I keep in the highest esteem for much love, attention, appreciation and helping grow this genre. This is just the beginning, I foresee a wonderful ecosystem developing in the future, helping the industry grow 360 degrees. The key however, is knowing and engaging with your audience and having the creative ability and the discipline to offer the right product. Any disconnect between the two and you lose the plot and your audience. 
 
What has truly emerged as the biggest trend over the last one year is the visible shift from foreign produced content to more Local IPs with relatable settings and characters. Every kids’ TV channel today has at least one tent-pole local IP which is connecting with the kids and helping the channel grow its reach and the time spent on the channel. Both linear TV and digital are expanding their kids’ portfolio with must have IPs and localised content which have great character appeal and relatable settings. The success of Little Singham has catapulted Discovery Kids into reckoning as the fastest growing kids channel in the industry and is now consistently amongst the top 5 channels week on week in the category. Co-produced with Rohit Shetty’s Picturez and Reliance Animation, this Bollywood influenced IP is very high on familiarity and entertainment. Being associated with men in uniform, it comes with the right set of values; is true on all brand safety parameters making it a great IP to associate with. 

The future looks very exciting. In 2019, our aim is to further consolidate on this foundation and take Discovery Kids to a consistent top three channel within the genre.

(The author is the Business Head of Discovery Kids)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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