Animax launches in India

The general perception amongst the Indian masses is that animation is for kids only. The positioning of Animax as ‘Not just for kids’ and ‘Animation for everyone’ is therefore an interesting one. The entire Indian animation industry stands to gain if Animax is able to get young Indian adults and elders into the habit of watching animation. SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta with SPTI Senior V-P and international networks Asia MD Todd Miller Read what they have to say on the issue of locally created content
SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta with SPTI Senior V-P and international networks Asia MD Todd Miller
MUMBAI: The South Asian feed of Animax, the 24 hour animation channel from the SPTI (Sony Pictures Television International) portfolio was launched in India on 5 July at a media briefing held in Mumbai. SPTI Senior V-P Todd Miller announced the launch of the channel even as SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta raised a champagne toast to herald the arrival of the channel in India. Also present were SET Discovery president Shantonu Aditya and SET executive vice president, sales and revenue, Rohit Gupta. ‘Brand new world of fun – Not just for kids’. Sporting a tagline that invites ‘everyone’ to join the growing cult of animation lovers, Animax has a library boasting of more than a thousand hours of quality animation. Apart from Japan where it was launched in 1998 the channel currently has dedicated services for Hong Kong, Taiwan, South East Asia and South Asia (covering the entire Indian sub continent). Looking at a dual feed by april 2005, the south asia service of Animax is initially realying 24 hours in English and 12 hrs in Hindi (4 hrs original + 2 repeats). The programming is divided into three time bands – the Kids Hour from 3 to 7 pm, the Youth Hour from 7 to 9 pm, and the Mega Zone from 9 to 11 pm. A special slot titled ‘Weekend Anime’ has also been created to grab eyeballs during weekends. Young cricketing sensation Irfan Pathan has been signed on as the brand ambassador. Speaking at the media briefing, SET India Executive VP Rohit Gupta said that, “Pathan was chosen as the channel’s ambassador due to his popularity with not just kids, but also youth, young adults and viewers of all ages.”
Screenshot of the Animax website
360 degree promotional activities have been planned around Animax which include on-ground, on-air and on-line activities. Also planned are festivals and shows which aim to attract the crowds in thousands. Another interesting aspect of Animax is the Channel Logo and packaging which are very appealing and refreshing. The channel is also in the midst of developing two original characters Quu and Tee, who will be channel emblems. To begin with, one of the heavily promoted shows on the channel will be Astroboy. The main character of the show is ‘Atom’ a robot with a human heart . Bullish on Astroboy, Miller anticipates that, “Astroboy is going to be the next Pokemon in India”. Another show that according to Miller will hit the the bulls eye is Cyborg Kurochan, which is centred around a cat Kuro, who in return for the love given to him by the old couple that adopted him protects their home from break ins.

Opportunity for Indian animation producers

The launch of a new 24 hour animation channel with dual feeds holds a lot of potential for Indian animation producers to tap on. On being asked whether Animax was open to airing locally produced content, SPTI Asia head Todd Miller replied, “Short term our focus is on establishing the channel in India and then on increasing and broadening viewership, but mid term we are surely open to the idea of localised content.” Earlier during the briefing, SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta answered a similar query mentioning that, “Indian studios are producing content for international channels and surely they are going to approach us for animax. If they come up with something that has a pan Asian appeal we are open to them”. Would the fact that most content in Animax being anime, which is distinctively different from Indian animation in terms of illustrations and looks, spoil Indian producer’s chances? To this Miller assuringly replied, “We are looking at animation that has pan Asian appeal and the difference in look between Indian produced animation and anime will not hinder an Indian producer’s chances, as long as the content has a broader appeal and is not limited to India”. The general perception amongst the Indian masses being that animation is just for kids, the positioning of Animax as not just for kids and animation for everyone is an interesting one. Animation studios across India have been struggling to remove the ‘kids only’ tag associated with animation. The arrival of Animax and the marketing and promotional activities of the channel shall give a much needed fillip to their efforts. Here’s wishing the channel success in changing Indian perceptions about animation from ‘Only for Kids’ to ‘Animation for everyone – Not Just for Kids’.