Sumita Vaid

At Cartoon Network, the mantra is localisation

Localisation of content is at the heart of the channel’s new programming initiative

At Cartoon Network, programming strategy will never be the same again.

The success of Pandavas - The Five Warriors (which was first aired in September 2001) was one of the strongest indicators for the channel to consider localisation of content seriously. The first big effort by the channel in this direction came about with the acquisition of Ramayan - The legend of Prince Ram, which was aired on November 4, 2002 (on Diwali day). The programme notched up channel share of 12.06, ahead of all national cable channels. The repeat airing of the full-length feature based on Ramayan on November 5, 2002, (10:00 am to 12:59 pm) reached another high when it touched a channel share of 14.19.

So now, localisation of content is at the heart of the channel's new programming initiative, says Anshuman Misra, managing director, South Asia, Turner International India.

If the highlight of 2002 was the full-length feature of Ramayan, the channel brass promises the line-up for 2003 will be no less interesting. However, company officials are not ready to reveal more because the channel is currently negotiating with some local studios to acquire a clutch of new programmes. "Till we sign on the dotted lines, it is not possible to talk about them," explains Misra. But yes, he emphasises this programmes are being acquired with the Indian audience in mind. "Something that the Indian audience will connect with it," he describes the crux of the acquisition policy.

Parallel to tailoring content to meet the expectations of the Indian audiences, the channel has been aggressive on localising promotions and increasing the number hours of the Hindi feed to drive more traffic to the channel.

Last October, the channel increased the duration of the Hindi feed from nine hours to 16 hours. Says Misra, "Cartoon Network is not an urban phenomenon anymore. The current C&S reach of Cartoon Network is 18 million. It ranks No 2 among all national channels in a particular target group, which is kids between 4 to 14 years of age, in SEC ABC, C&S homes (source: TAM data for October 2002). This has happened through a combination of localising promotions and advertising in addition to the localisation of content. Take our promotion built around the Holi festival. It was a three-week promotion with special Cartoon Network pichkaris as prize and over 60,000 kids participated in it," claims Misra.

The channel has also done several on-ground events - such as Toon Yatra, a two-hour, multi-city (Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi) event featuring The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter, Dee-Dee, Johnny Bravo, Tom, Jerry and Scooby-Doo. School is Cool was another school carnival carried out in five cities featuring boy genius Dexter, his sister Dee-Dee, and kindergarten super heroines The Powerpuff Girls. Save Dexter's Brain was another promo, which had over 40,000 kids from across the country sending in their clues to help restore Dexter's memory.

The result, the company claims, has been dramatic. "According to TAM data for June 2002, Cartoon Network has witnessed a phenomenal 67 per cent growth in average all-day ratings compared to June last year. For the same period, the time spent on the channel has increased by 52 per cent compared to June 2001. In fact, Cartoon Network has 18 shows among the Top 20 animation shows across all channels (TAM October 2002)," points out Shana Parihar, director marketing and PR, Turner International India. While the ad sales revenues for 2002 are awaited, Cartoon Network claims it has seen a 47 per cent growth in ad sales revenues for the year 2001 compared to year 2000. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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