Viveat Susan Pinto

Nick gets set to take on competition

The programming on the channel has been revamped and the emphasis is to try and move into the consideration set of children

"We are here for the long haul, and in my opinion 2005 will be critical for the kids genre like the way 2003 was for news," says Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of the Viacom-controlled MTV Networks India, which also has kids channel Nick under its fore.

The channel, which is considered to be a laggard in the kids space (Nick trails behind Cartoon Network and POGO), has been working hard to get its act together this year, and if Kuruvilla is to be believed, seems poised to take on competition in the near future.

"The first step for us was to get our distribution right," he says. And to this end, the channel, along with sister MTV, has joined the One Alliance platform in April 2004. Prior to this, an in-house team took care of distribution after Nick (then Nickelodeon) opted out of the ZEE-Turner bouquet last year.

Parallely, the channel also introduced a Hindi feed and improved its overall environment in terms of promos, fillers and interstitials to make it friendlier to Indian audiences.

"The crucial task for us was to re-engineer the programming grid," says Kuruvilla. And to this end, the channel has commissioned TNS to do research capturing the views of educationists and child psychologists on the subject.

What emerged finally was a programming grid comprising various blocks including Nick Naashta (breakfast block) from 7.00-9.00 am, Nick Junior (for pre-schoolers) from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm, Hello Girls (a block for young girls) from 4-5 pm, Nick Ha Ha Ha (humour band) from 5-6 pm and Nick GAS (comprising games shows and sports shows) from 7-8 pm.

On weekends, the channel has thematic programming from 4-5 pm on Saturdays and 12-1 pm on Sundays, and according to Kuruvilla, beginning November 14, the channel will kick-off a new animation-cum-live action series based on the Koi Mil Gaya character Jadoo at 12 noon on Sundays.

"This is the biggest initiative for us in the region so far, and along with Graphiti Multimedia, we will co-produce the series featuring Jadoo," he says.

Nick has acquired the rights from Rakesh Roshan's Filmkraft India to showcase Jadoo across platforms in all markets, and the TV series will consist of 26 episodes to begin with.

"The idea is to take off from where the movie left," says Ram Mohan, chairman and chief creative officer, Graphiti Multimedia. "We have created Jadoo's own little world in space coupled with his interactions with people on earth."

The series, interestingly, will dwell on the subject of environmental pollution with the villains in the storyline representing air-pollution, water pollution and so on. "Jadoo and his friends will fight the villains. So in that sense it's a classic good versus bad tale," says Mohan.

Meanwhile, Kuruvilla maintains that the Jadoo series is the first among a number of other local initiatives that the channel will unveil in the coming months. "Junior G, a live action Indian show, first telecast on Doordarshan, is doing a rerun on Nick and there should be more announcements in the coming months," he says.

The strategy, he claims, is to have a few driver shows that can get children in 4-14 age group to sample the channel and then migrate this population across day parts.

Marketing will play a crucial role in the channel's re-engineering efforts, and on the Jadoo initiative in particular, the channel will have school contact programmes apart from a traditional multi-media campaign and on-air promos. "Clients partnering with us on Jadoo can get a 360-degree solution across various platforms from mobile phones to the internet and promotional packaging," Kuruvilla concludes.

© 2004 agencyfaqs!

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