Walt Disney Company will make its debut in the country with the launch of two channels‚Ä" the multi-genre Disney Channel and animation-led Toon Disney ‚Ä" on December 17.
The launch is easily one of the most-hyped and eagerly awaited ones, given the brand value of Disney. For months now, the company has been in the news for action on the recruitment front, and speculation has been rife with regard to the strategy it will adopt in the country.
Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and their acolytes are no strangers to children in India with branded programming blocks running for years on Hindi general entertainment channels.
Hema Govindan, head of marketing and communication, Walt Disney Television International (India), says, movies will be the real differentiators in the channel's programming strategy. There will be two movies every day on Disney, along with dubbed feeds in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and pre-school entertainment on Disney Channel.
Contrary to media speculation, the company has no plans to roll out its dedicated channel for pre-schoolers (Playhouse) at this point, restricting pre-school entertainment to a four-hour block (from 8 am to 12 noon) on Disney.
Localisation efforts in the form of short-format shows, local anchors, vignettes and a dedicated block comprising locally-produced programmes (Studio Disney from 5-7 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) are visible on Disney, while Toon Disney is essentially a destination for its international library of cartoons available in Tamil, Telugu and English. The Hindi-language service for Toon Disney will be available in some time, says Rajat Jain, managing director, Walt Disney Television International (India), whereas Disney Channel will be beamed both in English and Hindi during launch.
The company has a promotional blitzkrieg on the cards, though officials refuse to spell out details about it. According to market sources, the total promotional outlay comprising advertising, marketing, below-the-line etc is in the region of Rs 15-20-crore, with the company likely to launch its ad campaign by the third week of January next year.
Distribution is a key factor for Disney, and according to analysts, the company would first look to enter Cartoon Network homes, followed by POGO and Nick. Indeed, competition for Disney comes from the Turner bouquet of channels (Cartoon Network and POGO), which enjoy huge loyalty among kids in India.
Even as the two satellite channels go on air tomorrow, what is unclear is the status of Disney's proposed theme parks in the country. Jain is not commenting about it at the moment, but according to industry sources, the company is looking to get into the theme park business by 2006.
Worldwide, the theme park business along with Disney's television operations (ABC Television Network, ESPN, E!, Buena Vista Television etc) helped boost the company's net income by 24 per cent for the quarter ended September 30, 2004.
For the uninitiated, Disney essentially has four lines of operation ‚Ä" media networks (TV/cable networks), parks and resorts (Disneyland, Disneyworld, cruiseliners etc) studio entertainment (Walt Disney Pictures, Studios, Miramax etc) and consumer products.
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