“Consumption of kids channels is only 20 pc”

Unless new players come in, the category will observe saturation, says Krishna Desai, Director, Content, South Asia, Turner International India

by Synjini Nandi
Published - Jan 8, 2013 6:55 PM Updated: Jan 8, 2013 6:55 PM
“Consumption of kids channels is only 20 pc”

The kids’ genre has been steadily observing a lot of action. There has been a recent spurt of new channel launches as well as the introduction of new content strategies for better audience content.

According to Krishna Desai, Director, Content, South Asia, Turner International India, localisation of content is a significant aspect of the overall programming strategy.

In conversation with exchange4media, Desai talks about the important highlights of the previous year, the advent of different players in the kids’ genre and the different strategies that have been undertaken in order to increase local relevance.

Pogo, the kids’ entertainment channel in India from Turner International, has successfully completed one year as the leading kids’ channel, as per the numbers shared by the channel. How has the journey been so far? What have been the important highlights of the year 2012?
Pogo has been a fantastic brand for us. There are certain elements that have led to its growth. We have had a much higher resonance as compared to the other players on the broadcast space. The channel’s positioning which is bright and optimistic has always worked for us. Shows such as ‘Kumbh Karan’, ‘M.A.D’, etc., were some of the shows which proved to be highly popular. We also launched the Pogo awards for kids, where in we did a vigorous search of the country and identified kids who are very talented in music, art, social services, leadership and so on. We gave them a platform on Pogo and they went to inspire the other kids as well. This was also a way to give back to society because we believe that Pogo is good for you. This thought has led to what Pogo is today.

Are you happy with the market share that Turner holds in India? Do you think there could have been more market penetration?
We are never happy with the market share. We primarily believe in two things. Fundamentally we welcome competition because we believe that in the fact that although more players would segment the category, it will also make the category grow. When Pogo was launched, Cartoon Network was there along with a couple of small players. Pogo arrived and doubled the category. Hence, if the category grows, it also gives space for the growth of other players. Kids’ genre in itself is a small category in the larger scheme of things so if you look at only the kids’ audiences, the consumption of kids’ channels is only 20 per cent though it has grown a lot. Through the new generation study we ask the kids of the country what they prefer to watch on television. 60 per cent say cartoons are their preference, whereas according to the numbers it is just 20 per cent. So unless the new players come in, the category will observe saturation. Organically, it is how we can grow as a category and maintain a high market share.

Are you happy with the kind of niche that the two channels ‘Pogo’ and ‘Cartoon Network’ have created for themselves and how have they grown? How have the channels contributed in the augmentation of the genre’s growth?
There are basically two parameters – numbers and the non-number part, which define the channel growth. In terms of numbers, Pogo’s entry led to the doubling of the genre. The other aspect is the channels’ offering to the child. Cartoon Network by definition pertains to cartoon based shows. While in Pogo the offering is in the form of custom made general entertainment for kids. In terms of content offering, one will see animation based shows such as ‘Mr Bean’, which further adds to the variety in content. In terms of types of genres of shows we have fiction, non-fiction, game shows, award shows, Bollywood movies targeted towards kids, art and craft shows and also we have various platforms online as well so it provides our target viewers with a whole complete package. That is what Pogo has brought to the table in the Kids’ viewing category. It has a qualitative contribution.

How many shows pertaining to original Indian content are aired on both the both Cartoon Network and Pogo? What are the strategies that the channels plan to implement in future on creating and adding more Indian based programming to their already existing line up?
When we entered the market, we realised that localization is a significant aspect of the overall programming strategy. In any market, including India, if content has to work then it has to be locally relevant, which we believe is also the cardinal rule. We took our first step with ‘The Adventures of Tenali Raman’. The second step was the emergence of ‘The Desi Toon strategy’. Hence, we could be considered as the pioneers of localisation or ‘The Desi Toon strategy’ in the country in the kids’ segment.

The next step was investing in partnering with the animation industry for content which was locally produced for the kids, thus helping us and the industry grow by creating localised content in the country. This was followed by our idea to transcreate, which implies re writing a particular show and making it locally relevant; the entire process involved taking the sound track off the show and involving a set of external writers write a script based on what they see on screen. This would lead to a completely new story being re written but remained relevant to that particular episode. This is what we do for a lot of new shows in terms of language. The language and the script is not a part of its original counterparts and hence through this we can completely change the nature of the show.

Next step was to launch our own IDs in the market which are completely home grown sort of properties such as ‘Ben 10’, which is a home grown production. We thought of creating something solely for India which led to the birth of ‘Kumbh Karan’ and ‘Roll 21’. ‘Roll 21’ is a very big show on Cartoon Network. We have another show titled ‘My name is Raj’, which was in the movie format. We recently launched two new live action movies on Pogo. That is how effectively the local strategy has evolved, and now we are looking on how to build and create volume on the back of these.

With digitisation, what kind of revenue are you looking for the channel? How does the channel plan to attract advertisers to monetise it?
Broadly speaking, digitisation is a positive step for the industry which includes distributors, cable operators, consumers, broadcasters, etc. I cannot comment on how it would pan out right now but would prove to be beneficial in the long run.

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