Anirban Roy Choudhury

"Vedantu, WhiteHat Jr., Byju's, Amazon Pay, PhonePe are new set advertisers on Kids": Nina Elavia Jaipuria

The head, Hindi and kids TV network, Viacom18 says September, October 2020 was better than the same period last year in terms of ad revenue.

Every year, summer and winter vacations are the (two) periods when the most number of kids watch children's programmes on television for the most amount of time. So, broadcasters in children's space use these vacations to roll out new episodes of existing shows, and some even go on to launch new titles.

The 2-14 year age group forms the universe for broadcasters. A mix of (Indian) home-grown shows and international titles are dished out daily to keep kids glued in front of the television.

The children's broadcasting space is estimated to be around Rs 600 crore. Nickelodeon (Nick, Sonic, Nick Jr.), Disney (Disney Channel, Hungama, Marvel HQ, Disney Junior), Turner (Pogo, CNW), Sony (Sony Yay!), Discovery (D Kids), and Sun Network (Chutti TV, Chintu TV, Kochu TV, Kushi TV) are the major networks at play.

This year (2020), due to the COVID-induced lockdown, the kids were forced to stay at home for the most part. Children's viewership saw an unprecedented growth, and then settled at a new high.

"Vedantu, WhiteHat Jr., Byju's, Amazon Pay, PhonePe are new set advertisers on Kids": Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Even during this time, Viacom18 operated (in India) Nickelodeon maintained its leadership. Its flagship channel continues to be the most-watched in the genre, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data. Pogo follows Nick, and then come Hungama and Disney Channel. Sonic, which is also from Nickelodeon's bouquet, holds the number five spot.

Recently, during a presentation, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, head, Hindi and kids TV network, Viacom18, shared that according to BARC India data (U+R, 2-14 NCCS ABC, Week 14 ‘20-42’ 20 07-23 hrs), Nickelodeon has 38 per cent network share (viewership), followed by Disney (23 per cent) and Turner (21 per cent). In terms of revenue share, Nickelodeon leads (35 per cent), followed by Turner (24 per cent) and Disney (23 per cent).

Here are edited excerpts from an interview with Jaipuria:

Where has the viewership settled after the surge you saw during lockdown?

In the COVID period, we saw a huge 48 per cent surge in viewership, and the genre moved from seven to nine per cent. But when original content came back to general entertainment channels (GECs), the viewership stabilised.

Yet, in the post-COVID period, the category's viewership is higher than what it used to be in the pre-COVID period. To be precise, even today, it is 26 per cent higher than what it used to be pre-COVID.

How do you see this changing as schools reopen?

I think this is stable now. This 26 per cent higher than pre-COVID data is analysed in the eight weeks between September and October. In this period, the schools had already reopened, the GECs had their full programming and the Indian Premier League (IPL) was also on.

Let's be honest, the kids have been deprived. No friends, no playgrounds, and they weren't even allowed to step out. In such a scenario, what is their escape and respite? This is where children's channels and Nickelodeon come into play.

It has dropped but settled at a new high. Do you see it dropping further?

We have to understand that the overall television viewership is up. So, the viewership share of children's genre has dropped back to seven from nine per cent. But this seven per cent, in absolute terms, is delivering more people. With Diwali and (then) Christmas, I don't see this viewership dropping further.

In cricket, we saw new set of advertisers bidding for title sponsorships. Do you see new advertisers on the channel?

We have seen a couple of categories advertising in children's genre who earlier didn't. Edutech is one such category e-wallets are another. Vedantu, WhiteHat Jr., Byju's, Amazon Pay, PhonePe are new set advertisers on Kids.

Then, we also saw Lego advertising for the first time, and Mars is a new advertiser in the genre.

What gets non-kids brands on the channel?

We have a lot of co-viewership as well. For Nickelodeon, the adult viewership equals children's viewership, it's 50-50. Therefore, it becomes a win-win for the advertisers.

In terms of ad revenue, how soon do you think you will be able to recover?

This is a genre that is growing. Also, we had fresh content being drop throughout. From children's category and Nickelodeon perspective, we were already planning for the summer. Because we were ready with our slate, we became one of the few franchises that ended up launching new movies, characters, and stories.

There was a lot of new stuff on the channel. So, the advertisers saw value in it. Whatever little discounting was there, we completely lifted it two months back.

Will the final (FY21) quarter match the revenue of the last quarter in FY20?

In terms of volume, September and October were better than the corresponding period last year (2019). Now that we are back in terms of volume, we can increase our rates.

When your 12 minutes inventory is sold, it is about adding value and increasing the rates. I am happy to say that we were one of the least discounted genres or franchises in the Viacom18 group

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