Benita Chacko
Interviews

"OTT streaming not cannibalising but supplementing TV viewership in kids’ content": Nickelodeon’s Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Viacom18's head, Hindi and kids TV network, says digital platforms bring in more viewership and ad revenue.

It is that time of the year when kids can sit glued to the television all day long without a care about school homework. It’s vacation time! And to keep them entertained kids’ channels launch new titles during this time. Viacom18’s Nickelodeon also announced the launch of its 11th homegrown animated IP ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’ set to air from October 18.

"OTT streaming not cannibalising but supplementing TV viewership in kids’ content": Nickelodeon’s Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Speaking to afaqs! post the show launch, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18, shared some interesting insights on the children’s broadcasting space.

With kids being locked up at home due to the COVID-induced lockdown, the category witnessed an unprecedented growth last year. In FY21, Nickelodeon’s viewership grew by 39 per cent. But with schools reopening and kids going back to their usual routine there has been a decline of over 10 per cent and now it is stabilising.

“During this year kids and their families have faced a lot of stress and difficult times. Animation content gave them this comfort and escape from reality. But over a period of time, we've noticed that the category is now stabilising, and going back to where it used to be. Yet it is still higher than the pre-COVID level,” she said.

"OTT streaming not cannibalising but supplementing TV viewership in kids’ content": Nickelodeon’s Nina Elavia Jaipuria

During this time, the channel maintained its leadership for the eighth consecutive year, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data. While its flagship channel Nick continues to be the most-watched in the genre, their other channel, Sonic has jumped to the second position, from its earlier held number five spot. This is followed by Hungama and Disney Channel. Pogo has slided down from the second to the fifth spot.

Nickelodeon has 33 per cent network share (viewership), followed by Disney (26 per cent) and Turner (17 per cent). In terms of ad revenue share, Nickelodeon leads (35 per cent), followed by Disney (25 per cent) and Turner (23 per cent).

The lockdown ensured kids had little or no access to their friends and play time was also limited to their home. This created a viewership surge in the morning, early afternoon and afternoon time bands. “We have a majority of ‘one television households’ and because of work from home and other household chores, the kids got the remote. Television has become the primary screen for families to watch together. It has created a lot of co-viewership for the genre,” she adds.

Video-streaming apps and OTT platforms also offer a plethora of content for children’s entertainment. Does that take children away from television viewing? Jaipuria says that it only supplements it.

“Unlike adult content, kids content is evergreen. There is no different kind of an audience who's looking for different kinds of content on a different platform. We ensure that the same content is available to them on Voot Kids, on an Ott platform or on Youtube Kids or anywhere that they would like to watch and engage with us. It allows the child to watch their favourite cartoon at any time of the day and on any device. Especially in homes that have only a single television,” she adds.

It helps them provide advertisers a better reach as well. “It's not just about delivering the reach on the channel, but also on Voot Kids and our social media. It gives the advertiser a more holistic ability to reach out to the audience,” she says.

During the lockdown, the kids felt the need to find innovative ways to entertain themselves. This could be in the form of online gaming/ creating reels, DIY, social media challenges, etc. So short format video apps saw a massive growth in popularity among kids. Nick is also partnering with these platforms to allow children to engage with their characters, watch DIY videos, participate in dance challenges, and play games.

With kids finding new forms of entertainment, the channel is also changing their strategies to promote their shows. The marketing plan for the new show ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’ includes influencer engagement, OTT and short content apps and gaming among the traditional TV, OOH and cable and DTH.

“With schools, malls and theaters shut, we don't have access to kids physically. We have made the plans in a way that we are able to engage with our audience where they are today, that is on social media and gaming. So we really pivoted our marketing plan to ensure that we are able to reach out to our audience and they can engage with the characters. For example Chikoo aur Bunty coming out of a TV show and playing carrom with them. It is about creating these different touch points outside of mass media. But it's also important in this space to know children’s preferences, which are so dynamic,and then stay with the times,” she adds.

Afaqs! had recently written an article about the absence of female protagonists in children’s entertainment shows on television. There is a predominance of male leads in Nick shows as well. Commenting on it, Jaipuria explained the reason to be that girls exit the category much before boys to join their mothers in watching GECs.

“The boys versus girls ratio in our channel is at 55:45. The reason why we're probably catering more to the boys is because we know that girls’ loyalty starts to shift much earlier than the boys. Also a lot of our shows are very gender neutral because animation is really not so much about ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ but about families, friends and pets. Here the gender is irrelevant,” she adds.

She said they are examining and understanding that space. “If we do create that show then what role will the female protagonist play? Because then she will also have to entertain 50% of the boys who are also watching the category,” she concludes.