Year Ender Exclusive: Looking back at 2020 and looking forth to 2021 – Sony YAY!’s Leena Lele Dutta

2020 was a challenging year in many ways majorly due to the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide that brought the world to a sudden standstill. But something that didn’t see a halt was the consumption of content owing to the lockdown.

Animation Xpress had a conversation with Sony YAY! business head Leena Lele Dutta about the year gone by. Below are excerpts :

How 2020 fared for Sony YAY! in terms of trends, new shows and ratings 

As a trendsetter in the genre that serves kids new and exciting formats of content, the channel adopted a holistic approach to strengthen its expansive multi-genre universe. We started this journey with the launch of our first chase-comedy show, Pyaar Mohabbat, Happy Lucky continued it with mythology genre through yet another new show, Krishna Balram. The viewership of the channel saw a 20 per cent increase amid the pandemic. We also expanded our language feed from seven to nine languages with the launch of Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal in two new language feeds- Gujarati and Kannada.

Entertaining kids beyond TV, the channel’s digital platform saw a great influx of content and exciting properties to connect with kids during the lockdown. From curating a host of digital activities that featured the most popular YAY! toons to creating an immersive experience with our very first digital IP ‘YAY! Summer Camp’, we engaged kids via multiple touchpoints. 

Impact of the pandemic on the sector- What worked well for Kids Entertainment channels/brands  

The kids’ entertainment genre witnessed great transformation as the pandemic allowed kids more time to view content, thus creating an increase in demand for fresh content. The kids’ category quickly adapted to this shift in consumption pattern and entertained our young audiences with fresh programming line-ups that had innovation and engagement. The fact that kids are extremely loyal to the shows and characters that they’re fond of played an instrumental role in kids’ entertainment channels being able to sustain and increase viewership, during the lockdown. At a time when one saw most channels broadcasted reruns of old shows, the kids’ genre churned out original content as well as launched new offerings due to advanced planning.  

Leena Lele Dutta

Shift in viewing patterns on the whole as an industry as well as Sony YAY!

Viewership pattern starts to see an upward shift during summer vacations. This year as the effect was further proliferated owing to the pandemic as schools, outdoor playtime and hobby classes came to a grinding halt. Kids entertainment channels ranked third after news and movies as the most watched genre in urban India in the age bracket of two to 14 years. Each of these channels constantly pushed boundaries and curated homegrown offerings, across a host of regional languages, thereby meeting the rise in demand amongst kids for fresh content. Sony YAY! extended from seven to nine language feeds, with kids’ favourite show Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal now available in two new languages, Gujarati and Kannada. The consumption pattern also moved towards consuming long forms adapting to which Sony YAY! released 15 new Honey Bunny movies this season. 

Plans throughout the year

Building on the momentum created this year, we will further expand our content portfolio in 2021 and create avenues for kids to be connected with their favourite YAY! Toons. Ringing in the new year with our mega programming line-up, while we will continue to build on our core toons, we will continue to add more fresh content and diversify our offerings massively. We shall commence the year with a new show Backkom along with new episodes of the ghostly trio – Thakela, Pakela and Bhoot Boss in Paap-O-Meter. We are looking forward to another remarkable year where our shows and initiatives facilitate kids to enter the world of Sony YAY! bringing their imagination to life. 

Outlook and trends to look out for in 2021

In a year of unprecedented transformation, the kids’ entertainment genre has witnessed an expansion of subject and style that has enabled kids to embrace the diversity on offer. Sony YAY!’s programming landscape in the coming year will feature a broad range of homegrown characters and themes that offer local flavour in their preferred languages. The year will also see our collaborations and partnerships with our online community come to the fore as we look to create more content and reach our audiences wherever they are. Through our platform BuzzCrew, we shall give new content creators the space to endorse, connect and create new properties, presenting them with the opportunity to grow and learn.