Starting November 19, 2001, SABe TV will introduce a new half-hour cartoon slot called Toon-Time from 7.00 PM to 7.30 PM, Monday to Friday. The cartoon strip, Turtle Island, which is aimed at the children's segment, where SABe TV does not have a presence, is being shown for the first time in India. Canal Famille, in French-speaking Canada, and Canal J, France's children's specialty channel, have shown this 26-episode (half-hour each), $11 million animation series Turtle Island.
The series, which has been dubbed in Hindi, is the creation of the Montreal-based children's programme producers Henri Desclez and Norma Denys, and their company, Mimosa Productions, which specialises in exclusive programmes for kids in animation, multimedia, puppet and live-action formats. The series features a "cast" of unusual puppets that include a turtle king and an octopus beauty in a series of adventures and misadventures with surprise guests like bumbling pirates and beached castaways.
The story line is likely to appeal to children. In the South Seas, Turtle Island is the home to King Tiki, the last survivor of the Royal Dynasty of the Tiki Flying Sea Turtles. The turtles have a dazzling collection of treasures, which the pirates are after. Pirate Captain Minus, and his crew, vainly attempt to take over the Island. King Tiki and his friends do everything in their power to protect the Turtle Island.
Says Sandeep Singh, vice-president, marketing, SABe TV, "Programmes such as Alif Laila are doing very well, and have a substantial number of children among its viewers. So we were trying to appeal to children with a programme specifically aimed at them. It is this gap that the current programme fills."
Children's programming and animation are among the untapped sectors of the Indian television industry. Currently, there are more than 70 television channels beamed into 15 mn households and they require hours of content. But the supply side scenario is sad, with very few indigenous software producers looking specifically at kids. Most of the content for children is sourced or developed by overseas producers. For example, since last year, Toon Boom Technologies Inc, which specialises in animation, and enjoys a premier marketing position in China, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines, has made significant inroads in India. Yet, the potential is immense.
The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) expects the animation/content development industry in India to almost double each year over a five-year period, growing from Rs 9.5 billion (US$ 202 million) in 1999/2000 to Rs 210 billion by 2008, driven largely by exports. This compares with a global rate of 40 per cent.
Another potential beneficiary, if animated programmes catch on, are television software production houses. Industry estimates indicate film-makers could save as much as $60,000 by using Indian animation houses rather than South-east Asian animators to produce a 22-episode series of 30 minutes each. Retail merchandising, based on popular television programmes for children, could also be a boom area. "Children are much more likely to buy merchandise associated with their favorite television programme. The instinct to associate is strong among them," says a senior media executive associated with a children's channel in India.
The picture in the rest of Asia, and in Europe, where the latest craze is Harry Potter, bears this out. For example, the TV programme Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle has spawned comic books, computer games, movies and countless commercials over radio and TV to make it a household name in Asia.
It is probably to latch on to this idea that SABe TV is looking at children's programming with such seriousness.
© agencyfaqs! 2001