Kids genre changes rules of engagement

Children spend less than 25% of their TV watching time on kids' channels. They wield far more influence in a family's buying habits than 5 years ago, pushing channels to evangelise content strategies & take up new mktg initiatives

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Updated: Oct 10, 2013 8:45 AM
Kids genre changes rules of engagement

Kids, by nature, have a very small attention span. In an era where holding attention of the adult audiences is getting difficult for TV channels, kids are a level above. The channels in the genre, of late, have been using different tactics to connect to their audiences.

About five years ago, the genre had five-odd channels; today the number has reached almost 17, including local channels. Experts believe children do not spend more than 25 per cent of their TV watching time on kids’ channels. Single TV homes have only aggravated this as kids are able to sample less programmes in the prime time, which is dominated by adults. Therefore, reaching this audience is challenging.

Kids channels = family entertainment?
Experts we spoke to have shared that apart from kids, young parents are also an essential target group for channels. “We reached out to 1.5 lakh parents recently through an initiative called ‘Balloon Maths’. Parents have always been very conscious of what their kids are watching. We are an edutainment channel, but we have seen that the viewership goes down during examination time. So we engage mothers through various activities,” said Anuj Katiyar, Marketing Head, ZeeQ.

“Thirty per cent of our viewership on Cartoon Network and Pogo comes from non-kids category, and it has been so for last three years. So, it is very essential for marketers here to reach out to them. Although we don’t target parents, we welcome them,” said Krishna Desai, Senior Director and Network Head – Kids, South Asia, Turner International India.

He further added, “The penetration of smartphones and other smart devices would possibly change the viewership habits substantially. Kids today in urban families are very tech-savvy, and they have started consuming content on these non-linear platforms and the consumption will only increase with time.

“We try to position Disney Junior as a whole family entertainment channel. Content proliferation is at its peak today, and it is very important for a player like us to differentiate. ‘Jet Set Go’ was one of the major marketing initiatives we took recently,” said Bikram Duggal, Director Marketing – UTV Networks.

Content evangelisation
Engaging kids through effective content is the biggest challenge. “It is very difficult to decode the mind of a kid. They question more, they observe more and are far more blunt and ruthless in sampling content as compared to adults,” said Prosenjit Sen, a media analyst.

Content is the king and all channels today are trying to understand and decode this age group and serve customised content. Story-telling and inclusion of learning aspects are prime. Mythological and superhero characters are not the only protagonists included these days. As kids get to sample more and more content across the globe, channels in India are also evolving.

Indrajit Ray, Executive Director – Content, Disney UTV said, “Strong story-telling is the key in this genre.”

Katiyar of ZeeQ added, “Being an edutainment channel, we have to ensure that our content stays engaging. The concept has to be packaged in such a way that the audience does not migrate from the channel. We, therefore, have education as our stronghold.”

Market experts believe that apart from a robust story-telling content strategy, channels also need to engage with their audiences through various gaming and quiz contests.

The performance of the kids’ genre, which is at uphill, is an indication of the potential and growth of this market. A recent survey indicated that kids today wield far more influence in the buying habits of a family that they used to five years ago. Many automobile, telecom, FMCG, financial services, consumer durables and banking products and services now target kids as well, which means this genre will continue to be attractive to advertisers in years to come.

Additionally, launch of more channels, digitisation, and the advent of 3G, smart devices and better penetration of internet in rural cities will increase the scope of success for broadcasters – provided ‘Content always remains king!’

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