Aishwarya Ramesh
Media

“Content matters more than medium in kids’ entertainment”: Abhishek Dutta, POGO and Cartoon Network

We caught up with the South Asia Network Head for POGO and companion channel Cartoon Network for launch of show Lambu-G, Tingu-G.

WarnerMedia's POGO, a Kids TV channel, has announced the premiere date for its latest local original series, Lambu-G Tingu-G. The comedy series, produced by Cosmos Maya, is set to air on May 3 and then weekdays at 12.35pm.

The new show is an addition of Lambu-G Tingu-G to POGO’s line-up of homegrown kids’ programmes such as Titoo - Har Jawaab Ka Sawaal Hu and Smashing Simmba. Lambu-G Tingu-G’s launch is also timed with the launch of a new look and feel for the channel.

“All New POGO” is a three-month programming stunt that comprises fresh on-air packaging and a new programming slate including new specials, movies and episodes. The channel is also all set to air new episodes of existing programmes.

Abhishek Dutta, South Asia network head for POGO and its companion channel Cartoon Network, tells us that Lambu-G Tingu-G falls in the slapstick comedy genre and has an overarching message of friendship. He adds that with the ‘All New POGO’, there will be new episodes, shows and movies, including more Titoo and Smashing Simmba, plus Bheem in the City 2 and Super Bheem.

“Content matters more than medium in kids’ entertainment”: Abhishek Dutta, POGO and Cartoon Network

Ahead of Lambu-G Tingu-G’s premiere and to celebrate International Dance Day, POGO has collaborated with ABCD Dance Factory to present a dance challenge set to the show’s title song.

A Lambu-G Tingu-G game called Food Fight, will be available on the POGO website to keep kids entertained indoors, as will the All New POGO YouTube account. On the channel, the show will be presented by Perfetti - Chocoliebe Eclairs Plus, along with associate sponsor Rasna.

Over a video call, Dutta mentions that the theme of the show is goofy heroes versus goofy villains. “The slapstick comedy genre was missing from our portfolio in recent times and that’s why we chose this theme. With every show that we create, we are trying to go in a different direction so as to provide a variety of viewing choices for the kids.”

Abhishek Dutta
Abhishek Dutta

Dutta tells us that ever since the COVID pandemic broke out last year (2020), kids’ viewership on the channel has been high. The channel saw a 20 per cent rise in overall viewership, as per BARC data (compared to pre-COVID levels).

“A lot of schools have preponed holidays. Exams are being cancelled too. So, audiences are already available, and we are expecting them to grow more with the curbs that are coming in.”

He mentions that the company’s focus has always been on entertaining kids during difficult times – and this is the reason for bringing on new shows and movies. “From April to June, we have a packed lineup, with new episodes of existing shows, plus new shows in the pipeline too.”

Currently POGO airs in two languages – Hindi and Tamil and the content is also available in these languages. Dutta points out that almost all the channels in the category sparsely broadcast in English and have opted for regional languages.

“Relevance and relatability have become important parameters in all the content that we create. The Indian consumer no longer wants to simply be entertained. We identified this trend a while ago and have been focusing on localising Indian content to better suit the preferences of our Indian audiences as well as create local IP (intellectual properties) for our viewers.”

Dutta adds that unlike other genres on television, the kids’ genre continues to offer fresh and relatable content during lockdown.

He informs us that animation has to be planned in advance, as opposed to GEC content, which is normally shot a few days prior to airing.

“It takes time because of the stages involved in creating an animation, and we had to create everything from scratch. We also have to bank our shows so they can air. This WFH period has been a little difficult because even our artistes and the people involved in the production of the shows are working from home.”

He acknowledges that working from home has increased output time since animation normally happens on power intensive computers. “That hasn’t stopped our work, though. We’ve still created libraries for our channels, despite the reduced pace.”

Dutta stresses that the growth in OTT viewership in India has not undermined the growth of television in any way. He recalls that according to BARC data, there was a 27 per cent growth in the news category. By comparison, kids’ viewership went up by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in 2020.

“More than the medium of consumption, it’s the kind of content that matters when it comes to kids’ entertainment. Ninety-eight per cent of India still comprises single TV homes, so co-viewing also remains the defining feature of kids’ viewership,” he signs off.