Hungama TV, launched by Ronnie Screwvala's UTV, is the sixth kids channel that has been launched in recent times.
What sets Hungama apart from the clutter is its programming mix. While most of the other players are predominantly international, Hungama's content is largely Indian.
Purnendu Bose, COO, Hungama TV, says, "Today, most of the content on kid's channels is essentially international, dubbed in Hindi. Our idea was to give Indian children a channel that they can call their own." Hungama was launched on September 26.
Before deciding on the content, Hungama TV had done both quantitative and qualitative primary research across 10 cities in the key Hindi speaking markets.
Bose says, "Our FPC (fixed point chart or programming schedule) is based on an AC Nielsen nationwide quantitative research findings. The findings reflected that a significant percentage of kids indicated no loyalty to any specific channel. It was also found that even a substantial percentage of the cartoon loyalists regularly move out in search of variety entertainment. Hungama TV intends to fill that gap with multi-genre localised kids programming. This is why our FPC covers everything that kids want beyond mere animations, whether it's comedy, drama, adventure, science-fiction, game shows, fantasy, movies, and music countdown."
Hungama with its multi-genre programming does not have a prime time band as such. Bose says, "Television is all about appointment viewing, particularly when it comes to kids. Different age groups have different school timings in India and therefore, it is not possible to have one prime time band for our different target audience."
For instance, pre-primary school timing differs widely from secondary school timing. So, for the pre-school kids, the channel has a time band 'Chattar Pattar' hour between 8.30 am to 1 pm. In this hour, the channel has international cartoons such as What about Mimi, Tom - The Dinasour, Honk Toot and Swo Swoosh, and Johnson and Friends dubbed in Hindi.
But isn't the time band 8.30 am-1 pm rather unconventional? Bose defends, "The pre-school kids get up early and have a different time schedule to go to their play schools. So, in this time band, we expect viewers to come and go as per their convenience."
Likewise, for the older kids (age group 8-14 years), the channel has a specific time band 'Hulla Gulla' between 5-6 pm which telecasts completely Indian programmes such as Full Toss and Gol Gol Gullam followed by non-stop Dhamaka and the Ulta Pulta Club - featuring live action game shows, comedy, science fiction, adventures etc.
In the late evening hours, the channel has a time band 'Abracadabra Spell', targeting family viewing as India mostly has single TV homes.
Kids movies will also be an integral part of Hungama programming. Some of the forthcoming attractions on the channel will be international movies such as The Undercover Kid, Wind Runner, Sally Marshall Is Not An Alien, Just In Time and Amy dubbed in Hindi.
Bose says, "As Indian kids have minimal exposure to good international kids movies and very little work has been done so far in India, particularly in the kids' genre. Therefore, presently, we would be showcasing good international kids movies."
The channel is also talks with Indian production houses for Indian movie titles.
Talking about the channel's programming strategy, Bose says, "Selecting programmes for a kids channels is a very sensitive issue and one needs to keep their emotions in mind."
Ever since the conception of Hungama, kids have been an integral part of the decision making process - from identifying the need for such a channel, to selection of content as per time slot.
As Hungama is being promoted by a production house, the channel will certainly have a few programmes which has been produced in-house but the channel is also working with other production houses such as Balaji Telefilms, Creative Eye, Contiloe, Cinevistaa, Dream Team, Positive Pictures, Garima Productions, Roots & Wings, Tumti Films, Vinayak Creations, Vidisha Productions and others.
The shows produced by Hungama are live action shows such as Tiger, Full Toss , Gol Gol Gullam, Chooha Mantar and Shisha - Kahani ek raaz ki.
While Tiger is a science fiction programme based on a mystery solving, super magic car is to be aired on Sunday mornings at 10 am, Full Toss is a game show based on gully cricket aired on every Thursday to Saturday at 5 pm. Gol Gul Gullam is another game show which is aired between Monday to Wednesday at 5 pm.
To compete with the other kids shows on general entertainment channels, Hungama has shows such as Chooha Mantar - which will aired every Friday and Saturday at 7.30 pm and Shisha - Kahani ek raaz ki to be aired very Saturday and Sunday at 8.30 pm
For distribution, the channel has tied up with the STAR distribution bouquet and box-seeding has already started in most of the major markets in the country. Hungama TV is a pay channel priced at Rs 6. Bose ruled out paying any carriage fees which has become an unofficial trend in the industry.
To promote the channel, Hungama is looking forward to mainly on-ground activities. As Bose says, "As kids rarely read newspapers and competitive channels do not carry our advertisements, we are concentrating mainly on below-the line activities."
The channel is targeting more than 2.5 million kids across 15 cities through school contact programmes. The channel also plans to launch several contests on radio apart from using the outdoor media.
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