15 Dec 2017
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Kids content: Gaming has potential to surpass L&M biz

Abhishek MaheshwariMUMBAI: Kids network operators and content creators are looking at alternative revenue streams for monetisation. This is outside revenues from satellite broadcasting, which they are completely dependent on.

While they achieve monetisation by creating spin-offs of popular franchises and through YouTube, Disney India consumer products VP and head Abhishek Maheshwari feels that long-tail merchandising across categories and gaming applications can be a bigger revenue source than the content itself. “Besides that, digital or print publishing is also a big stream,” he added.

Although consumer products are a significantly large business, another stream that is steadily emerging is gaming applications for kids content. In fact, Reliance Entertainment CEO digital Manish Agarwal said that the consumption of games will grow in the coming years. “Gaming will be a reality for us,” he added.

Joining the ranks of ChManish Agarwalhota Bheem and Ben10 is a new category of Indian war comics. Launched a few years ago by a retired army officer and his sailor son, the company Aditya Horizons will bring out its 7th title soon. It is now graduating into animation with videos.

Founder Aditya Bakshi revealed that going ahead they would be looking at toys and digital applications as alternative revenue streams too.

So, if there are alternative streams, what is the challenge?

Jiggy George

Jiggy George

Dream Theatre founder and CEO Jiggy George said, “The audience knows brands and has money, but retail is not getting to them. E-commerce is now helping a bit. But it is local content like ‘Chhota Bheem’ that will always help.”

He further highlighted that these days content creators only try to make broadcasters happy and come out with merchandise that may not even complement the brand.

“If a broadcaster is not buying your content, you can get it on YouTube, build a comic and take it to any other medium possible,” stated George.

Giving a broadcaster’s perspective, Maheshwari said that it is important for characters to have a heart. Moreover, merchandise needs good designs.

“Consumers should be able to relate to the core of the story. 95 per cent of our focus is on storytelling, creating franchises and products that people can relate to,” he said.

For Disney India, Mickey Mouse is still one of the most versatile characters across age groups, and Marvel is another franchise fast catching up.

Maheshwari added that compared to the West, we have only just begun licensing and merchandising. “We need different designs and characters, backed by good stories. There is a great opportunity to take the stories and characters across mediums including digital.”

For Agarwal, while the consumer is willing to pay for good content, the key deterrent is the internet speed and thus there are few subscribers.

“However, short-format content is going through the roof. It’s free and you have the option to monetise through ad revenues. However, without high-speed broadband, kids can’t see a full movie online. The 3–7-minute capsules or 17-minute serials are what kids love,” he mentions.

Yaboho New Media founder and CEO Hitendra Merchant, who runs the multi-channel network HooplaKidz on YouTube, said, “The game is open for everyone. You just need to understand the platform well.”

He revealed that his company would soon launch a new digital series ‘Adventures of Annie and Ben’ funded by YouTube.

“If you look at the views, we get 4 per cent from India, 25 per cent from the US, and 15 per cent from the UK. In fact, we have seen the demand for pre-school content grow by 200 per cent on YouTube,” he said.

Games vs L&M

Broadcasters and network operators believe that gaming will quickly surpass the L&M business worldwide because there is the option to purchase within games. One good sign is that the number of game downloads is steadily increasing.

However, people are not used to paying for games still, which is why monetisation can only happen through ads.

According to George, the biggest challenge for L&M is that the products are not reaching the consumer properly and thus knock-offs are more popular.

Both George and Maheshwari agreed that the need is to have more products at a reasonable price, which the industry is not doing presently. However, organised retail could be of help, they added.