The COVID-19 pandemic experienced content consumption soaring through the roof. The average screen time increased manifolds including the kids genre. The kid’s space increased by 2 per cent in terms of genre share; from the usual 7 per cent to 9 per cent.
Kids broadcasters witnessed significant growth during these unprecedented times which turned out to be fruitful for them. Discovery Kids too witnessed phenomenal growth in viewership – 35 to 40 per cent. Discovery Kids is among the ‘Top 5 Channels’ in India (as per BARC week 43 data).
Speaking to Animation Xpress, Discovery Kids head Uttam Pal Singh shared the pros and cons of the Coronavirus outbreak on their business and content line-up. He said, “Nobody was prepared about COVID which brought in a different opportunity. Certainly, we still continue to grapple with the situation. But we looked at it [lockdown] as a unique opportunity when the schools were shut and kids were homebound with no access to outdoor entertainment. So screen time increased and kids were watching television when normally they would be in school. One of the good things was that the kids were able to cope up with the situation early, which in a way helped us as broadcasters to diagnose the situation and act accordingly. Specifically for Discovery Kids, we realised that this is a good opportunity to provide catchy and engaging content to kids as they would be consuming it unhindered. Anyway we’ve been preparing for the holiday season, which is normally around May, June, July every year. This year, it started March onwards.”
Singh mentioned that they already had a programming plan in place which they rolled out, and around 17-18 March onwards, they saw the growth coming on the channel, mainly due to Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz. Singh mentioned that the channel witnessed drastic shift in viewership patterns – more on week days than weekends between 9:30 am to 1 pm. The channel also relaunched Little Krishna (3D) during the festive period which also enjoyed good viewership owing to its positive messages and values.
“We saw the reach jump on the channel due to the content programming we brought in and witnessed 35 to 40 per cent growth during the early months to the pandemic, whereas the genre growth was 30 per cent. So we were able to go beyond that,” he added.
By July, Singh stated that they had chalked out an entire plan for the rest of the year as they predicted the pandemic to stay for a while. However, the broadcaster wasn’t fully prepared and knew that they would exhaust all the new content soon. “We needed to have the next phase ready and thankfully, dealing with animation and all original content, we had a lot of things in our control. Thanks to our production partners – Reliance Animation (Little Singham) and Paper Boat Design Studios (Fukrey Boyzzz) who adapted to the new infrastructure pretty well and worked remotely, with which we were able to basically get back into the pipeline within a matter of a couple of weeks after the national lockdown. The animators continue to work from home till now,” commented Singh.
The channel has been working closely with the animation studios and more than 600 artists, animators, writers, spread across eight states, are working from home to ensure consistent premieres of fresh content for kids. Discovery Kids launched more than 100+ new episodes and eight new telemovies of Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz.
Discovery Kids had tremendous weekly numbers (according to BARC’s Week 42 ratings) and even in week 43, Little Singham Kal Ka Badla holds the second position among ‘Top 5 Programmes’. It also broke all records becoming the number one TV blockbuster in the Indian kids TV landscape, as Singh informed. The Little Singham Birthday Bash on 15 August gained a lot of viewership and also the original programming called Digital File with Little Singham.
“Little Singham is one of the top shows in India right now as numbers suggest. We occupied five positions out of 10 for content centering around Little Singham. The main aim was to get the content ready for kids, which I think made a difference for Discovery Kids’ IPs. Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz both saw growth and even earned new audiences. We were actually gearing up for a whole lot of fresh new content given we are looking to expand these franchises. So, we were in that unique position, just we had to grapple with a little disruption. We were ready with the new episodes, new tele-movies, and on different stages of productions,” noted Singh.
The youngest super-cop also had 100+ new episodes and eight tele-movies during the pandemic imposed lockdown. The new shows Discovery Kids launched are:
On the occasion of Navratri – 17 to 25 October
10 Din 10 Villains – 10 Movies from 16 to 25 October
New episodes of Little Singham – 17 and 18 October
New episodes of Fukrey Boyzzz – 18 to 23 October
Dussehra – 25 October (Mythology themed blockbusters of both IPs)
TV Movie Premier of Jai Ho Little Hanuman (Little Singham blockbuster) on 24 October
TV Movie Premier – Funtoosh Festival (Fukrey Boyzzz Blockbuster) – 25 October
Discovery Kids also had planned crossovers where Little Singham comes together with other known characters for different stories and tele-movies. The channel launched a Blockbuster movie Jai Ho Little Hanuman which made it lead in the viewership game up by three ranks – 22 per cent more viewership.
Singh further noted that the channel will soon be premiering another TV movie Little Singham Ke Baahubali Friends. “We did this last year as well where the popular kids hero Little Singham shares positive values along with his friends Little Krishna, Little Hanuman and Baahubali,” Singh stated.
There’s more in store from Discovery Kids as festive treats for the young audience. Stay tuned for more details!