Another Viacom channel makes it to the top spot

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 11, 2009
Nick retains the No.1 position among kids channel in the HSM (Hindi speaking market) for the seventh consecutive week and plans to launch South feed

After having oodles of fun, the summer vacations are getting over and with that, it's the time for the kids channels, which have been entertaining children all this while, to sit back and soak in the popularity of their shows amongst the kids. According to TAM data, Nick has been ruling the roster since Week 16 in the HSM market.

As per the latest TAM data for Week 22 for the HSM (CS 4-14 years), Nick is No. 1 with 155 GRPs followed by Hungama TV, which garnered 140 GRPs. At the third spot is Pogo, commanding 138 GRPs and at the fourth spot is Cartoon Network (CN) with 128 GRPs.

In the all India market (CS 4-14 years), Pogo Leads the pack with 133 GRPs, followed by CN commanding 125 GRPs. Third in the fray is Nick, which garnered 120 GRPs. At the fourth place is Hungama TV with 105 GRPs.

While Nick predominantly has Hindi feed, CN has feeds in four languages - Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu. Nick has English feed for some of its shows including Dora, Little Krishna, Sponge Bob, Spells and Tricky TV on the digital platform. Nick plans to roll out a full-fledged English feed by the next quarter of this financial year and once its distribution is in place, will start the South feed of the channel.

With Nick becoming the No. 1 channel in the Hindi speaking belt, does it imply that the 19 years of domination by Cartoon Network (CN) in the kids' genre is finally coming to an end? Media experts are of the opinion that in today's dynamic media industry, it is tough to say that. However, "for the time being, CN's domination seems to have come to an end, and there are enough opportunities and channel options available for clients targeting kids, Nick being one of the front runners," says Nikhil Rangnekar, executive director, India-West, Starcom.

Jyoti Bansal, executive director, West and South, MPG, says that it is the improved distribution, marketing effort and the change in programming - including tent poles and new series - that have worked in favour of Nick. "The change in programming has led to an increase in GRPs. The kids' genre is becoming more competitive, but consistency of delivery is what will define how the genre pans out," she adds.

Nick earlier focussed on foreign live action programming, while CN had popular characters such as Tom and Jerry and Johny Bravo, amongst others. "But over time, Nick caught on the trend of Japanese animation characters, which have today become immensely popular, and dropped the live action to a great extent. It has hit on the right programming that connects with today's kids and I believe this is the main reason for the channel to have grown to the No. 1 status today," adds another analyst.

However, Bansal believes that it will take Nick some time to surpass CN as it has right now only taken over in the HSM. For advertisers who have an all India plan - CN has to be part of the plan. In HSM, however, Nick does now feature more regularly in media plans. Nick commands lower ad rates than CN.

According to Nina Elavia Jaipuria, senior vice-president and general manager, Nick India, there are three things that worked for the channel - stickiness, programming strategy and taking television beyond television sets.

"Nick toons such as Ninja, Dora and others are our trump cards and make the channel stickier. The Nick characters are close to the kids and a thick and fast relationship has been formed. Plus, we have made a conscious effort to take our channel beyond television sets and make it tangible. Touch, feel and play factor is very important for us and has worked well for Nick," explains Nina.

Apart from the touch and feel aspect, experiential marketing, whether in schools, comic books or retail stores, played a key role in establishing a connect with the viewers.

Nick, which is a part of Viacom, launched the animated series Little Krishna on May 11, which has proved to be a hit amongst the young ones. The show recorded a TVR of 1.49 in the HSM category and was the second most viewed show after Ninja Hattori (also a Nick offering), which has peaked with a rating of 1.66 TVR in Week 22.

"Little Krishna has helped the channel to reach the top. It is the second biggest thing on Nick after Ninja Hattori. The quality of animation in Krishna is at par with international animation. Indian animation has finally come of age," adds Jaipuria. Also, co-produced by ISKON, the subject has been researched for more than seven years so that there is no distortion or tweaking of the facts.

Rangnekar is of the opinion that the current position of Nick will play an important role in building reach. However, at the same time, he adds that "TV viewership data does not let us analyse viewership by feed, it is very difficult to estimate in HSM markets whether a kid is watching the English or the Hindi feed. By and large, the language feeds do not have that much of an impact on the final plan."

Dora the Explorer, Mighty Cat Masked Niyander and Perman are some of the best selling shows on Nick. In June, the kids channel is coming up with fresh episodes of Perman and Chibi Maruko Chan and the back-to-school range of Dora products.

Jaipuria maintains that kids come to the channel for two things - to kill boredom and to de-stress themselves. "Our programming strategy is such that the characters form a relation with the kids and help them in getting rid of boredom and stress. Be it action comedy, music comedy, slapstick or any other form of comedy, all our shows have an underline of comedy," says Jaipuria.

Sticking to its strategy of being a non-violent and safe channel for the kids, Nick, apart from using the Viacom library, also has a few new shows in the pipeline. A TV series is being planned on the movie, Penguins of Madagascar. Back at the Barnyard, which is a spin on the movie, Barnyard, is another offering in the pipeline.

© 2009 afaqs!