Why are broadcasters tuning into the kid's genre?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | March 15, 2004
The flurry of activity in the kid's genre in the form of standalone kids channels is not surprising, as broadcasters clearly see a gap that can be filled

If 2003 saw the news genre grow exponentially, 2004 is when trade pundits would bet their bucks on the kid's genre. The latter has seen increased activity over the last two or three months, beginning with the launch of Turner International's POGO on New Year's Day, followed by UTV's proposed plans to launch a kid's channel by July-August this year. This, over and above regulars such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Splash from the Chennai-based Pentamedia Graphics.

That the genre is high on a broadcaster's agenda is a foregone conclusion, considering a fair amount of time is devoted to 'kiddie' shows on mass entertainment channels. According to some estimates, kids spend around two to two-and-a-half hours a day watching television, either with their parents or family members, or by themselves, especially during non-prime time hours.

According to Purnendu Bose, COO, new ventures, UTV, the 44-million C&S homes in the country cater to more than 50-million kids. "And Indian children," he says, "Make up 18.7 per cent of the kid's population existing in the world." If viewed in the light of the Census 2001, people below 15 years, that is children, account for more than a figure of 315 million. "In other words, one-third of the population in the country is below 15 years," Bose reasons. "And C&S penetration is growing at the rate of 15 per cent per annum, which means that the market for kid's programming exists."

Despite the buoyant figures, the interesting bit is that the share of kid's channels in all homes, four years and above, in class one towns is just one per cent. "That is typically the case with a nascent genre," explains Atul Phadnis, director, S-Group, TAM Media Research. "Mass entertainment channels garner the bulk of viewership for kid's shows," he says, adding, "But as a genre breaks away and becomes a standalone channel, mass entertainment tends to loose its share." Not surprising then that broadcasters clearly see a gap that can be filled, and hence, a spate of standalone channels in the genre. As Sandip Tarkas, president, Media Planning Group (MPG), states, "The niche is large enough to accommodate two, three or four serious players. Whoever gets it right and pitches their channel well stands to gain."

Signs of this 'pitching' are obvious, both among the set of incumbents, as well as the ones that are scheduled to foray into the genre. For instance, Cartoon Network, the leader in the kid's genre, has three feeds - English, Hindi and Tamil - targeted at kids of different linguistic backgrounds. Apart from clear day-parts on weekdays and weekends, the channel has an extensive on-air and off-air localization effort, with on-ground events as well as shows produced locally telecast on the channel. Nickelodeon, on the other hand, plans to increase the number of hours of its Hindi feed from next month, while POGO, as explained by channel executives, is a destination for multi-genre programming dedicated solely to India.

Meanwhile, UTV - with its yet unnamed venture to take-off in the second half of this year - is looking at a 24-hour Hindi channel targeted at kids, with localized content and programming. Bose's contention is that in a space occupied primarily by "foreign players dubbing international content in Hindi", UTV's initiative stands apart in its attempt to understand the needs of the Indian child. "Research showed us that there was a pressing need for a kid's channel with original content. We targeted more than 3,600 children below 15 years across major Hindi-speaking markets between December last year and February this year, and the findings were fairly clear," he says.

By virtue of being a content provider for over a decade now, UTV hopes to leverage its skills in multi-genre programming, apart from targeting external production houses. "It is a logical extension for us, " says Bose, adding that the genre is an attractive proposition for broadcasters. "I foresee at least three to four players entering the fray between this year and next." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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