Alokananda Chakraborty

Pogo doesn't cannibalize, but complements Cartoon Network: Ian Diamond

The kids genre will see Animax and Hungama TV take on the likes of Cartoon Network, Pogo and Nick in the coming months

In the days of Doordarshan, programmes of different genres would jostle for space (and attention) on the terrestrial channel. With the entry of cable and satellite television in the early nineties, viewing habits ceased to revolve around Doordarshan, and over the years, a fast-maturing audience has learnt to seek varied entertainment on television. As a natural corollary, specialization is the order of the day, and broadcasters are looking at ways and means of leveraging every opportunity for specialized programming.

Last year, for instance, the news genre was witness to specialization that saw an explosion of new news and current affairs channels. What was a mere programming block a few years ago on mainline channels has now evolved into a viable standalone genre. The same goes for the kids genre today, which will see a couple of new players take on the likes of Turner International's Cartoon Network and Pogo, and Viacom's Nickelodeon (or Nick, as it's now called) in the coming months.

Sony Pictures Entertainment's Animax, a 24-hour animation channel, is slated for launch in India on July 5. Hungama TV, promoted by UTV, will step in somewhere in August-September this year. Incidentally, both channels have plans to target children of different age groups, and are keen on being relevant to Indian audiences. Animax, which is dedicated to popular animation from Japan, has an elaborate localization exercise on the cards, with plans to provide Hindi and English feeds to begin with. According to Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India, the channel will be "hip, fun and locally relevant". SET India, for the record, will handle ad sales for Animax, while the channel will be distributed by the One Alliance.

In response to these measures, Turner International India has stepped up activity on Pogo, its six-month-old kids channel dedicated to non-animation programming. Prime Pogo - a new weekend evening block featuring local anchors Niall Sadh and Nisha Lalvani - will go on air on August 6. Movies such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone will premiere on May 28 at 7.30 pm. Hindi-language programming will go up 80 per cent by the end of the year, and local productions will be launched over the next one year.

If the availability of a channel is any indication of its popularity, then Pogo can be seen in 15-million homes to Cartoon Network's 18-million. A difference of only three million. Which brings us to the moot question: Is Pogo growing at the cost of Cartoon Network? Ian Diamond, senior vice-president and general manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, has this line of defense. "Pogo does not cannibalize, but complements Cartoon Network. It was conceptualized as a destination for non-animation programming because viewers were looking for genres beyond animation. The aggregate viewership of Pogo and Cartoon Network, in terms of gross rating points, touched 72 per cent in the month of April. So we have actually gained viewership and got more audiences with the Pogo-Cartoon Network combination," he says.

Pogo has three distinct time bands - from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm for young children, kids prime beginning from 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm, and the family zone commencing from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm. Cartoon Network, on the other hand, is franchise-led, with destinations such as Power Zone, Toonami, Cartoon Theatre, Premier Premiere and Tiny TV among others. Both channels target the 4-14 age group in socio-economic classes ABC. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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