KAM Summit ’21 | Anu Sikka reveals what will trigger the next growth phase of Indian animation in India and beyond?

Content is king and tapping the right audience is strategy, as the right audience will ignite the success flag for the content. Tapping on that was KAM Summit 2021‘s day one’s session on “What will trigger the next growth phase of Indian animation in India and beyond?” with Viacom18 head – creative, content and research, Kids TV Network Anu Sikka and Cosmos Maya SVP revenue and corporate strategy Devdatta Potnis. The experts have shared insights on how they can spruce up animation content tapping the right audience and how important it is for studios to explore the preschool category which is quite niche as the Indian Animation ecosystem is concerned.

Viacom18 has managed to churn out many successful IPs and the key to success always revolves around various factors. Commenting on what’s the secret recipe behind such a successful graph, Sikka commented, “There is no secret success recipe as such, but first and foremost one needs to have a wonderful team around you to support you in any creative process and animation is no different. It is the teamwork and you are as strong as the team is. I am one of the luckiest to have one of the most phenomenal teams in the category. That is what is the key to the success. Second, you need to have great partners and studios and I have been luckier in that front as well.”

One of the most important factors for success is to understand your audience. She said, “The day you understand your audience’s psychic, is the day you create a successful show.”

Sikka mentioned that she has always followed a formula that is not to copy something which is successful and it is a very easy route to take. She further said that she has also been the risk taker as she believes that if no risk is taken, no success will be gained. According to her, the risk needs to be very calculative when it is about business because if it is not then the risk might fail to give that jump. Again failure is alright but the business should have the strategy to bounce back, it should not discourage in a way that the business will stop experimenting and exploring new avenues in business. “As long as your percentage of successes are more than the losses compared, I think you got it right.”

Giving example of how important it is to take risk and continue experimenting, Anu Sikka shared, “Viacom18 has gone out and has taken every possible risks and experiments that were possible. We have just done an experiment with a short called Daaduji where we created this 90 second shot. Normally we buy this from abroad as these were the silent shots. We were the first one to experiment it with those shots which did phenomenally well on our digital platform  and even on our channel. Then we extended those shorts into seven minutes duration clips and videos. We just launched it and today we got the first week’s rating of that and it just performed phenomenally. You keep taking risks, you continue experimenting, the success will follow.”  

Animated content has come a long way from where it started. It’s been only 11 years for Nick India and it has taken a big leap from where it started but there are miles to go.

As far as the Indian animation industry is concerned, there are not much animated content available for the preschool category. It is true that relatability is what drives the audience therefore content which are for toddlers might not interest the ones who have passed the age. Highlighting the fact that there are very less content available in the Indian market for the preschool audiences, Sikka shared, “Preschool which is such a powerful category world over, in India, we haven’t touched it so far neither have we experimented much with it. There is one show which has been a success made by Green Gold which has opened the doors for studios and broadcasters. The advertisers need to understand and recognize the potential of that particular category.”

She further shared that there has been no shows so far with a girl protagonist and the industry is to be blamed equally for it and should accept that thing. It will involve a risk. If tomorrow someone decides to take that show, there is no guarantee that in the first attempt itself it is going to be super hit. There might be chances of two three failures and someone needs to have the appetite to take on that failure. Because such kind of content, can help change the mindset of the audience.  

She added, “Today a 10 or 11 year old girl is happy watching what is actually meant for the adults and not meant for the kids as we are not creating anything which will cater to her needs.”

She further emphasized that no matter how great the animation, it is very important to have a good storyline as the kids are hooked with the right kind of storytelling. So, it is really crucial for content creators to focus on good stories and understand the audience very well.

Potnis also highlighted how their show Enna Meena Deeka has done wonders internationally. It got sold in more than 100 countries. It is the first Indian show which is now co-financed for the third season.

Adding to experiment and risks, Potnis also highlighted, “During Motu Patlu, both of us faced a risk that point in time. I remember we were told what are you going to do with two old men, one bulgy and other is thin and are balding? And today Motu Patlu is phenomenal. We are in the 10th year of Motu Patlu and we are developing something in that space in a preschool category, which talks about the Indianness, simple stories and so on. We are also going to launch comics.”

Sikka also shared that Nick also took the risk because Motu Patlu was cult and to bring something beyond it was a risk but however they managed to pull various IPs like Shiva, Rudra, Golmaal, Pinaki & Happy – The Bhoot Bandhus .

Overall the session was quite insightful as it taps crucial aspects of the animation and kids business ecosystem including how calculative risks can bring success, how good stories can engage more audience, and so on.

You can watch the entire discussion from 2:43:30

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