Prajjal Saha

Splash from Pentamedia bets on Indianised content

Animated Panchatantra and Pandavas for kids across the country coming soon on television

Splash - the 24-hour English kids channel from Pentamedia - is all set to make a nationwide splash. The channel, which has a significant presence in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala since its launch in October 2001, is now planning a robust entry into the northern and western parts of the country.

Udeep B Reddy, head, Broadcasting, Pentamedia, says, "We had a presence in some pockets of the north and west. But now we are strengthening our nationwide distribution network."

The channel is working on an independent distribution network but is also open to the idea of associating with the existing three large broadcasting networks - STAR, Sony Entertainment Network and ZEE. "We are in talks with all the three leading broadcasters of the country. We are also planning our own distribution network as we can't be dependent on them," Reddy says.

It is likely that the channel will go for its own distribution network as all three biggies of Indian television have a kids' or cartoon channel in their bouquet. While Sony Entertainment Television has recently launched Animax, STAR has included UTV's Hungama in its bouquet. Likewise, ZEE is also planning to launch a kids channel called Space Toons.

Compared to other kids' channels in the country which mostly air international content, Splash is betting on Indian content. As Reddy claims, 40-50 per cent of the content on the channel is Indian programmes, mainly produced by Pentamedia or some local production companies.

The channel caters to the age group of 2-18 years in three specific time bands. During 9-12 am, 2-4 pm and then between 4 pm and 7 pm; the last being the prime time catering to the teens.

Some of the popular cartoon shows being aired on the channel currently are 2-D animation series such as Indian Folk Tales, Panchatantra, Miaao, Fact Daisy. While most of the cartoons shown on Indian television are 2-D animations, Splash's USP lies in the telecast of 3-D animations such as Pandavas - The Five Warriors and Sinbad series.

Some more popular animated characters that will make an entry on the channel are Hanuman, Gulliver and Tarzan. These animated series has been produced by Pentamedia, which assures the Indian touch in these programmes.

While around 15 per cent of Splash's programming menu are animated series, the rest hovers around live action shows. The popular shows on the channel other than animation are Y series - an infotainment programme which answers to different queries by kids, and the game show Splash Box. The programme, Splash Box, is shot in different schools where each kids enters a box and is free to perform anything for 30 seconds.

Till date, the channel has had a strong presence in the south. So, a question does arise on whether the channel will change its programming with the formal launch in north and west.

Reddy says, "To connect with the Hindi speaking audience of northern and western India, we will be launching a Hindi feed of the channel in the next six months. Apart from this, we will also take the programme Splash Box to schools across the northern and western states."

Splash, which only has only English feed now, will soon get regional. While, the Tamil feed of channel will start for next month, the Telugu feed will begin in the next three months, followed by Kannada and Malayalam in the subsequent months.

Apart from strengthening its distribution network and strategising its programming, the channel is also planning to put its advertising department in place. Reddy says, "We are doubling our effort in advertising sales by strengthening our teams and opening new offices in Mumbai and Delhi."

Although Splash had a marketing presence in Mumbai ever since the channel was launched, the channel now feels the need to have a bigger presence in the region with the objective of driving all aspects of the channel. Splash plans to double its recently set up team of three in Mumbai, to look after the distribution, marketing and programming.

"Pentamedia, which had invested Rs 10 to 12 crore initially to launch the channel, will be ploughing in another Rs 1-2 crore on the new offices and around Rs 1 crore on programme acquisitions," Reddy said.

Splash's Indianised cartoons and programmes will certainly make it different from the rest of the herd. But the real challenge for the channel will be to sort out the distribution problem and make a strong presence across the nation. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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