Anirban Roy Choudhury

Disney announces DIY show; "Channel saw 40% growth in viewership during lockdowns": Anuradha Aggarwal

The head - infotainment and kids, Star and Disney India feels the upcoming festive season could help Disney's revenues to get back on track.

Disney TV, Star and Disney India's children's offering in the country, has announced that it will air a new show 'Imagine That' from September 6. 'Imagine That' resembles 'M.A.D.' ('Music Art and Dance'), seven seasons of which aired on children's channel POGO starting 2005.

Rob (Harun Robert), the main host and director of 'M.A.D.', will play the host of 'Imagine That' too. From a large set, he will teach kids how to upcycle, recycle and repurpose, all this while sitting at home. The Do It Yourself, or DIY, format has raked in millions of views on YouTube and other user-generated content.

Anuradha Aggarwal, head - infotainment and kids, Star and Disney India, says that what sets 'Imagine That' apart is the entertainment factor that Rob brings in. She also says that Disney is a platform with 'gatekeeper's trust' and so parents are quite comfortable letting their children watch it.

Anuradha Aggarwal
Anuradha Aggarwal

Kids genre depends largely on advertising revenue, followed by subscription and merchandising. Around Rs 600 crore (estimated) of advertising money was spent in the genre in 2020.

But then came the Coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted the ecosystem. "The impact was less on kids genre," shares Aggarwal, the former Marico CMO who recently switched to the world of broadcast.

However, the lockdown was like a 'vacation' for the children. It resulted in a significant spike, both in terms of the number of viewers as well as the time spent on children's channels. "While kids genre grew by 25 per cent, Disney's viewership upped by 40 per cent in this period," revealed Aggarwal.

Cello ColourUp, Byju's and Savlon will be the sponsors of 'Imagine That'. Kids television attracts a lot of co-viewing, so should the target be children, or the parents?

Citing example of 'Imagine That', Aggarwal points out that both Cello and Byju's are brands that the children interact with directly. Therefore, the marketer would want the kids to influence their parents to buy the product as they want to use it. In the case of Savlon, however, Aggarwal says that it is the kids making the purchase decision for the elders.

"As an advertiser, I always bought any genre for its numerical delivery, and I believe that kids genre should also be targeted for its numerical delivery. It does well at an aggregate audience, as well as for kids," she opines.

Kids genre in India has moved away from the usage of live characters, with animation now dominating it. "Disney, as a network, has used live characters all over the world. For DIY, it was important to have a human being explain and do it, and that is why we thought it is necessary. Moreover, Rob is an entertainer as well as friend and mentor for the kids," says Aggarwal.

The target audience, she says, remains the same. The younger audiences will make the stuff with the help of their parents, while the older ones will do it themselves.

Like most of the television industry, Disney is also waiting for the upcoming festive season, including Diwali, to get its revenues back on track.

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