Competition is generally expected to drive growth
in the market. The same was expected, when as many as five new channels - Pogo, Animax, Hungama, Toon Disney and Disney - were launched in the kids' genre last year. Expectations were high as the television industry had already tasted success with the boom in news channels, when new players came on board.
However, nothing seems to have changed in the kids' genre, both in terms of viewership or advertising revenues.
As per TAM Media research, the viewership of the kids' genre has increased by only three percentage points in 2005 vis-à-vis last year. In 2004, the viewership of the kids' channels was 6.52 per cent of the total television universe. In comparison, the viewership has only grown to 9.51 per cent in 2005.
Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), says, "Except for Cartoon Network, all the new kids channels have been still struggling to strengthen their distribution. Only after that gets sorted out, the kids channels can expect growth."
A few media planners also feel that the kids' channels do not have substantial programmes to invite viewers.
As Basabdutta Chowdhuri, COO, Madison Media Plus, comments, "There is a lack of innovativeness in terms of programming among kids channels. I believe channels such as Hungama have been experimenting too much. I personally didn't like the idea of showing movies since kids can anyway watch movies on other channels."
She adds, "Then again, the market leader Cartoon Network only has animation shows, which cater to children in the age group of 4-9 years. Due to this, children, above 10 years, are moving to other genres."
Malik of OMS says, "Kids generally get a limited time to watch television due to parental guidance. In addition, the children's time band on general entertainment channels are far more popular and invite a large chunk of child viewers."
Above all, the kids genre is still ruled by one channel, Cartoon Network, which still controls over 50 per cent of the market share. A Bangalore-based media planner says, "Unless fragmentation of viewers happens across the kids channels, the genre wouldn't grow."
However, there are a few planners, who are hopeful about this genre. As CVL Srinivas, managing director, MAXUS, Asia Pacific, says, "Over a longer term, one could see a gradual upward trend of viewership." According to Srinivas, "Kids are spending less time on mass channels today compared to a year ago. The advertising revenue spent targeting kids on mass channels is in excess of Rs 500 crore, which is a decent sum to tap into."
Malik of OMS differs. "There are only a few product categories such as confectioneries, or chocolates, which exclusively caters to the kids. On the contrary, there are many products, where a kids' choice may be preferred, but it's the mother who takes the final purchase decision. In that case, we would prefer family shows on general entertainment channels where we can reach out to both the kid and the mother."
Concurs Chowdhuri of Madison. She says, "As a media planner, I will not invest in a channel that has a very small number of viewers." She offers a piece of advice. "The channels should get their acts together and try and innovate in terms of programming. Through a broader range of programmes, the viewership is likely to rise, which will, in turn, pull in the advertisers."
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