Being ranked No 2 (in the four-to-14 age bracket) in terms of all-India channel share is no mean achievement for an animation channel. However, keeping the viewership level steady post July 14 will be the biggest challenge for Cartoon Network whose C&S reach is 18 million as of now.
Despite palpable tension, channel executives are putting up a brave front. "We will remain pay," asserts Ian Diamond, senior vice-president and general manager, Turner Networks Asia. "After seven-and-a-half years, Cartoon Network is in a strong position both on-ground and as a TV station. The quality of product that people have come to expect from the network, the content we have or our investments in local programming are simply incredible. We are clear that content will drive demand, and, that we have got our bases covered."
It is precisely this strategy of "covering all bases" - in other words, ensuring that different genres and styles of animation are available on the channel - that is keeping the goose bumps down. "We plan well in advance about how we should go around acquiring our shows," says Diamond.
The Adventures of Hanuman, for instance, was acquired in a pre-buy agreement with Trivandrum-based Toonz Animation. The show, which is currently under production, is likely to hit the small screens next year while The Adventures of Tenali Raman, also produced by Toonz, premiered globally on June 14 at 5.30 pm.
In the next six-eight months, the channel will telecast fresh episodes of Samurai Jack, Dexter and the Powerpuff Girls apart from feature-length movies Alibaba, produced by Chennai-based Pentamedia Graphics, which premieres on July 27 at 12 noon, Tom and Jerry - The Movie, and Tin Tin.
Also to premiere will be the Mumbai-based Climb Media's Chhota Birbal, a fantasy series featuring Mughal emperor Akbar and his courtier and wise man Birbal as kids, Code Name: Kids Next Door, an adventures series revolving around five 10-year olds dedicated to freeing children from the dominion of adults, Imucha Lucha, a funny series exploring the Latino cultural craze of Lucha Libre or Mexican wrestling, and Pokemon, a "global phenomenon", which follows three young heroes across the world in their quest to become master Pokemon Trainers.
Pokemon, incidentally, began as a video game creation by a Japanese company Game Freak and has since then been adapted to television, celluloid and the Internet. The Pokemon enterprise today is a booming business comprising video games, merchandise, movies, comics, events and now animation. "We are thrilled to have Pokemon on Cartoon Network," says Diamond.
Meanwhile, in a clever brand-building exercise, the channel, will unveil The Next Big Toon, a promotion aimed at "tapping into the creative potential of children". The promotion, which kicks off today (June 23), will invite kids to create a cartoon character. "It is not just a drawing contest but essentially calls for the breaking down of the character into what it is, what it likes, dislikes, where it likes hanging out, friends, enemies, family-members if any. Basically, it is an invitation for the child to use his or her imagination and come up with an interesting character."
Entries will be whittled down to five semi-finalists who will be profiled on the channel and the winner will have his or her cartoon character converted into an animated short, which will be telecast on the channel. "This is a great way of encouraging a positive, creative way of thinking and I expect it to be a great success," indicates Diamond. © 2003 agencyfaqs!