With the pandemic impacting every aspect of business and life, 2021 has been the year of recovery on the revenue front for the kids’ broadcasters. They have been investing in the Indian animation industry by releasing new original IPs and shows throughout the lockdown. With the kids and families being homebound, the need and hunger for new fresh content fueled the demand for animated content which boosted the TRP ratings for the channels. AnimationXpress got in touch with various Indian kids’ broadcast channel heads to know how 2021 has fared for the channel.
Discovery Kids has been topping the rating charts with its original and kids’ favourite shows Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzz by launching back-to-back new episodes, telemovies, and new seasons. The broadcaster and Excel Entertainment also launched the second season of Fukrey Boyzzz and premiered the Bhaago Choocha Aaya movie. Starting with Bhaago Choocha Aaya, the channel continued to add up the action line-up and released another blockbuster film from the Fukrey franchise Vanar Sena – 2.
The channel released the telemovie Lohri Aayi Khushiyan Layi under the theme ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha’ which focused on making the kids understand the importance of every festival celebrated in our country and raising awareness and appreciation. Keeping patriotism alive and celebrating the love for the country, the broadcaster also launched a blockbuster Desh Ke Sipahi- Super Squad, which was extremely appreciated by the kids.
The year 2021 has been the year of Little Singham, celebrating Singham‘s birthday the channel premiered six brand new movies throughout the month. The channel also launched a limited series edition featuring Paap Aur Punya Ka MahaSangram featuring Little Singham and his mentor Krishna.
Talking about how 2021 has been for the channel, Discovery Kids head Uttam Pal Singh commented, “Overall 2021 for Discovery Kids has been on a very positive note. There were some mixed feelings towards the beginning of the year. We were prepared to draw things as the second wave pushed down everybody both personally and professionally. As animation is our medium, we were able to adapt and get onto the production cycle quite easily during the covid times. So we all came together and worked as a team to keep the work going. Within this year we launched many telemovies featuring our existing IPs and that was our strategy and all of them worked very well in the kid’s genre. We also hope to end this year on a good note in terms of viewership by engaging with the audience and scaling up our existing IPs.”
According to reports, during the pandemic, the kids’ genre viewership grew by about 30-32 per cent and Discovery Kids too witnessed phenomenal growth in viewership – 35 to 40 per cent and listed among the ‘Top 5 Channels’ in India. However, the revenue or the monetisation was still impacted. Commenting on how was the advertising revenue recovery in 2021, Singh elaborated, “It was a low start at the beginning of the year, although the kids’ genre viewership was pretty high as compared to last year as kids were at home and the schools were closed. The revenue took an upside trend by Q2 and Discovery Kids with its tremendous growth and very strong IPs managed to reach the pre-covid levels.”
Shedding light on the advertising brands collaborating with the channel, Singh added, “Ed-tech companies are coming on-board which is the new sector, and we already have FMCG companies and new e-commerce companies engaging with kids-audience. We are also working on strengthening our existing partners. We are planning to launch co-branded content and also integrate the brand within the content. For example, recently Little Singham collaborated with Hershey’s Jolly Rancher Lollipops; it was very successful and the partnership continues.”
It has been almost a year with children attending online classes and being at home. Being homebound children have spent more time watching television. As a result, kids’ channels witnessed a 27 per cent rise in viewership and as things are getting normal and schools are reopening, the channel viewership may be affected and the rating graph may surge down. Denying the fact that viewership will go down, Singh stated, “Overall the kids’ genre is on a growth trajectory in India, unlike the other places. The linear broadcasting business is growing both in revenue and viewership. covid saw exceptional growth in viewership as kids were home-bound and spent a lot of time watching TV. However, once the school starts resuming and the kids are back to school, the viewership pattern will change. Yes, it won’t be the same as covid levels but definitely, it will be better than pre-covid levels. When we compare it to 2019, the kids’ genre will be on a growth side both in terms of viewerships and ad-revenues.”
Cartoon Network and POGO
Warner Media’s kids broadcast channels Cartoon Network and POGO have been ranked first in keeping the kids and families entertained with their wide variety of local home-grown content and localised international shows. The year witnessed a good release of local homegrown IPs and fresh new episodes of their existing shows.
Expanding their original local content library, Cartoon Network launched an original local animated popular Bollywood IP, Dabangg The animated series. Dabangg was one of the first animations to retain the original version of the popular Bollywood character, rather than a re-imagined kids’ version. Chulbul Pandey became the most favourite cop of the year. Cartoon Network also launched the first local sci-fi superhero CGI series Ekans – Ek Se Badhkar Snake. Not being left behind in the original IP race, POGO also launched a new animated slapstick comedy adventure series Lambu G Tingu G. The addition of Lambu-G Tingu-G to the formidable line-up follows other recent homegrown hits like Titoo – Har Jawaab Ka Sawaal Hu and Smashing Simmba.
Sharing how 2021 has been for the channel, South Asia Network head for POGO and Cartoon Network Abhishek Dutta said, “2021 has been a very busy year for both Cartoon Network and POGO, as this year marked by the release of several home-grown IPs. All these new launches have given a steady growth in the demand for localised content. We have consistently rolled out new episodes and movies and most of the launches in 2021 have well performed at their launch week and ranked No #1 in their respective channels. Ekans – Ek Se Badhkar Snake ranked No #4 in the genre in its launch week.”
Due to the pandemic, the viewership on kids’ channels went very high but the first wave impacted the whole advertising sentiments. Talking about the advertising revenues and brands collaborating with the channel, Dutta shared, “The onset of the second wave did have the biggest impact on the whole Industry. However, the traction gained back with festive seasons and high-profile sporting events like IPL and ICC World Cup where the market witnessed improvised consumer and advertising sentiments. The halo effect of these positive advertising sentiments was witnessed across all the genres including the kids genre. The traditional kids’ advertisers continued to partner with new shows and IPs to launch their new brands and advertising campaigns.”
He further added, “Cartoon Network and POGO characters are not just popular with kids but with their parents too. Targeting the co-viewership with parents attracts brands and advertisers from non-traditional categories too. Apart from snacks, foods, and beverages, we also had advertisers from e-learning platforms, e-commerce, personal care and hygiene, home care, and consumer durables who contributed to the channel during festive seasons. We expect this encouraging trend going forward also in 2022.”
As things are normalising and schools are opening up, the kids are again switching up to the traditional method of learning and being away from the TV and mobile screens. “As the schools reopen we expect the prime-time viewing to increase and we aim to keep kids engaged with exciting shows featuring their favourite characters. With a fan-first approach, we continue to serve our fans with more local animated shows with world-class animation and stories that demonstrate ingrained talents of the Indian animation industry. We are also planning to bring more localised international content for our fans to make it more relevant, relatable, and engaging content in multiple regional languages that will resonate with the viewers across India,” said the channel head.
To connect with more regional audiences, POGO started a new Telugu language service to expand its reach in India. With the new language service, POGO will reach even more homes in India. The additional feed means that the country’s premier brand for 100 per cent homegrown animation will bolster its appeal in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Sony YAY! started the year 2021 with the intent to further strengthen its fan base. The channel released new episodes of Paap-O-Meter, Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal, and launched new shows like Kikoumba, Chorr Police, Chimpoo Simpoo, Bhaalu Yeh Bindaas Hai, and Obocchama-Kun.
The kids’ channel has an expansive library of 550+ hours of animation content, 800+ episodes including six original shows, and 70 telemovies, successfully reaching 50 million + kids. Sony YAY! always served the young viewers with its engaging and sticky content such as Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal, Paap-O-Meter, Oscar Ab Bas Kar and many more. To expand its library further, Sony YAY! launched Taarak Mehta Kka Chhota Chashmah, an adaptation of fan’s favourite live-action show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. This show added yet another unique indigenous offering to the varied content bouquet of the channel, as it continued to satiate the demand for desi content for its young fans. Taarak Mehta Kka Chhota Chashmah has been ruling the hearts and screens across the country and secured top five spots on the BARC rating charts, making it the most loved show across the kids’ genre this year. The channel stood out by cementing all the top five slots in HSM Urban for Week 16’21, 2-14, NCCS ABC. Apart from that, the animated series is the top-rated show for the year 2021, across all kids’ genres.
Speaking on how 2021 fared for Sony YAY!, Sony Pictures Networks India, kids’ genre business head Leena Lele Dutta stated, “2021 has been absolutely a fantastic year. Sony YAY! kept reinventing shows, and brought new shows and characters throughout the year. When you look at the span from last year to this year, we brought a great trajectory going for Sony YAY!, and from the past four to five weeks, we have consistently been the number one channel in the India HSM. We reached this mantle in just four and half years, where a lot of players took six-seven years to reach here and many have not reached yet. 2021 has been a great ride for us in terms of both ranking and revenue.”
This year, ahead of the festive season, Sony YAY! had already built a robust and extensive content line-up with over 140 hours of fresh content with several new shows across multiple genres. During the festive season, the channel had introduced shows like Oggy and the Cockroaches, Haste Raho Henry, Obocchama–Kun, and Taarak Mehta Kka Chhota Chashmah – season two that captivated the young fans across the nation. The channel’s renewed content with shows like Ding Dong Bell Masti Ka Khel, Oscar Ab Bas Kar, Honey Bunny movies also contributed to the success of the channel throughout the year. Sony YAY! is a consistent number one in HSM Urban with 63.7 GRP.
Commenting on how the advertising revenues and brand collaboration has been for the channel, Dutta said, “Advertising revenues are far much better than the pre-covid levels because Sony YAY! had an encouraging year. Our numbers, ranking, and performance always topped the chart. We brought new shows, characters which turned out to be a great success. We had great festive season ratings and we expect that this year will end much higher than the pre-covid levels in both brand and revenue perspective.”
On asking what will be the scenario of kids’ channel ratings once kids are back to school, a confident Dutta mentioned, “During covid we saw a surge in kids’ category going up. Pre-covid the category average was about 500-550 GRPs and in lockdown, it went up to 700 GRPs and we are again back at the level of 550 GRPs. So it has not been that different from pre-covid times. Our objective is always to maintain the category share. Our market share has increased to 12 per cent from nine per cent and we are trending in the first place. We are very confident that we will maintain our ranking and position in regard to GRPs and shares. We got our content mix right.”
She further added, “We have to wait and watch the market trend. During covid the category moved up due to the rise in viewership as kids were homebound and they needed interesting fresh contents to keep them engaged. We gave them variety and fresh content which helped us to climb the ranking ladders. Now we are established over there and know that shows like Oggy and the Cockroaches, Obocchama-Kun worked well with the kids and that will continue to remain in our stable diet. We keep launching new shows and characters every two to three months to provide kids with a variety of content.”
Taking the marketing initiatives to the next level, the broadcaster has collaborated with various brands and influencers. Celebrating World Music Day, the channel collaborated with musicians like Rekha Bhardwaj, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal Dadlani, Shaan, and Suneeta Rao who donated their autographed musical instruments for underprivileged kids. The channel also partnered with Storytel to host a splendid one-of-a-kind DIY storytelling session for young audiences and their mothers. The weekend special activity was successful in garnering 820K+ impressions on three videos. The association with Storytel was carried out under Sony YAY!’s Mom & Me Time initiative. The brand also collaborated with 99 Pancakes to celebrate Friendship Day and launched a limited-edition Honey Bunny Dosti special combo.
Not revealing much about the plans for 2022, Dutta concluded, “We are in the mid-process of forming our original IPs and many of our original shows are in production. We will announce the launches and lineup in summer 2022.”
Last year IN10 Media extended its wings into kids space and launched a brand new kids channel Gubbare-Masti ke Phuwarre. The channel with its robust content has gained a strong viewership and audience.
A year old channel offered an eclectic mix of innovatively-told stories and fascinating characters, spinning tales of adventure, thrill, comedy, learning, and more. The current programming includes a mix of Indian animation like Vir The Robot Boy, Krishna Balaram, Fred Kismetwala, Appu – The Yogic Elephant, Love U Ganesha, Chhota Hatim and Seven Monsters, as well as introduces Billa Jasoos, Marcus Khiladi, My Bhoot Friends, Leo & Tig, The Dabangg Girls, Atchoo. Recently the broadcaster launched local animated original IP and India’s first-ever magical martial arts superhero – Akki Jaanbaaz.
Commenting on how 2021 has been for the channel, Gubbare AVP – content and strategy Brian D’costa said, “It’s been a great year for Gubbare in terms of our content library expansion with Vir The Robot Boy being our topmost show. We also managed to launch two new shows Krishna Balaram and Fred Kismetwala and close to 20+ movies this year. We have realized that action, comedy, and mythology work for us in terms of trends and movies garner high TSV and stickiness in a similar genre. Being just a year old in the genre, we have managed to garner a decent share in this competitive market.”
The broadcaster has many original shows in the pipeline including Roro aur Hero – Bhoot mast! Zabardast and Akul aur Nakul – The Asuras. Both the shows cater to different genres, explore the themes of friendship, family, and good vs evil but with comedy with the help of the lovable characters.
Talking about trends and outlooks for 2022, D’costa concluded, “Go local has been a trend for some time now and it will continue to be so. Content creators are aware of the global presence for their content keeping in line with its local taste catering to the Indian kids. The consumption pattern for kids has changed drastically post-pandemic, and there is a constant need for new content all the time. We as broadcasters have to keep experimenting with a different type of content and keep adding to the ‘kidiverse’ and create a massive library for kids to select from. As an industry, we all have to come together to build it further to create some path-breaking content.”