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2014 a year of gains for Viacom18’s Nick and Sonic

MUMBAI: For Viacom18 EVP of kids cluster Nina Elavia Jaipuria, 2014 has been a happy year. The networks’ flagship channel Nick delivered strong performance on the back of its local franchises while its action channel Sonic saw some uptick in viewership which in turn set the cash registers ringing.

Even as the overall share of the kids category remained constant, Nick witnessed a viewership growth of 20 per cent and Sonic saw a growth of 200 per cent from a low base.

oggy and cockroachesHowever, it has not all been a smooth ride for Nick. In 2012, the channel received a big jolt when its flagship property ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ moved to Cartoon Network.

The channel was left with one strong franchise in ‘Ninja Hattori’ to fight in the hyper-competitive kids genre that includes such rivals as Disney and Turner.

Not one to get bogged down by the loss of ‘Oggy’, Jaipuria took a punt with local franchise ‘Motu Patlu’. The strategy eventually paid off and the franchise, along with ‘Ninja Hattori’, contributes almost 80 per cent of Nick’s ratings.

In a manner of speaking, ‘Ninja Hattori’ and ‘Motu Patlu’ have become Jaipuria’s warriors in the battle for eyeballs. And there indeed is another warrior in the making in the form of chase comedy ‘Pakdam Pakdai’, which had a slow start in its inaugural season.

The icing on the cake has been the return of ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ into its fold. Nick had earlier this year taken the rights of the franchise in a worldwide deal.

Motu Patlu LogoThe chase comedy is airing on Nick starting 1 January. With ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ back, the network has strategically decided to air ‘Pakdam Pakdai’ on Sonic in order to give a leg-up to the three-year-old action channel.

“2014 was a year of engaging story-telling, endearing characters and brand extensions: all of which led to viewership growth of over 20 per cent for Nickelodeon. Our three musketeers—’Motu Patlu’, ‘Pakdam Pakdai’ and ‘Ninja Hatori’—have led the channel and the franchise to great heights,” says Jaipuria.

Sonic has seen a strong growth owing to the great action on the channel with shows like ‘Power Rangers’, ‘Supa Strikas’ and ‘Idaten Jump’.

Jaipuria also claimed that Nick and Sonic together have fuelled the genre’s growth. “This has been a result of our combined efforts to deliver superior content, endearing characters, great storytelling and extensive engagement beyond television with the viewers,” Jaipuria added.

Local content is the name of the game

Jaipuria pointed out that the key viewership trend was the increasing affinity of viewers for local content.

Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP & GM, Nickelodeon & Sonic India (5)“The kids of today are increasingly inclined towards local content as is evident with the growing affinity for characters that are Indian in spirit, based in identifiable environments with contemporary treatment. Taking our cue from these evolving preferences, we as engagers and kids entertainers are focused on creating relatable local content from start to finish in India. The success of ‘Motu Patlu’ stands testimony to this,” she explained.

The other key trend was of the exclusive made-for-TV movie of the kids’ favourite characters, she noted.

To this end, the kids broadcaster fortified the ‘Motu Patlu’ franchise with the launch of four exclusive made-for-television movies that further helped to establish the characters and contributed to the success of the channel.

The last Motu Patlu movie ‘Motu Patlu Kung Fu Kings’ was a blockbuster having premiered with 777 TVT (2.06 TVR) and emerged as the highest-rated slot of the kids category in Weeks 43, 44 and 46 of 2014, claimed Jaipuria.

Pakdam Pakdai LogoThe year ended with the premiere of the first Pakdam Pakdai movie ‘Pakdam Pakdai – Don v/s Billiman’ on Sonic on 25 December. As mentioned above, the chase comedy will move to Sonic beginning this year.

While kids channels form the staple diet of children in the 4–14 age group, they also consume other forms of content particularly general entertainment.

“It is interesting to note that India is still largely a single-television household. While the kids are captive viewers of this genre, they are also passive viewers of general entertainment content and movies such as ‘Tarak Mehta’, ‘CID’ and the like. However, their staple dose of entertainment is still their favourite animated shows. They continue to remain loyal to this genre and contribute to 9 per cent of the total TV viewership C&S 4+,” Jaipuria noted.

Digitisation and ad cap bring in the moolah

Without revealing any financial details, Jaipuria declared that the balance sheet had never looked so good. She, however, said that ad revenue had seen 20 per cent growth due to viewership growth and ad cap, while subscription revenue had seen a 15 per cent uptick thanks to cable TV digitisation.

The year also saw the entry of new categories like e-retailers and mobile handset manufacturers along with the usual kids advertiser categories like MFD, food, confectionary and non-kids advertisers like FMCG, consumer and automobiles.

Ninja Hattor“The key factors that contributed to this growth in ad revenue was the No. 1 rank of Nick and the tremendous growth of Sonic, enabled by our strong content and portfolio of characters. The 12-minute ad cap also contributed to the increase in ad rates and therefore ad revenues,” she stated.

Non-FCT customisations have further facilitated growth in ad sales, Jaipuria noted. “The non-FCT customisations are a win-win for all the stakeholders including the advertisers since they drive affinity for their brand with the audiences through innovative solutions.”

However, the issue of under-indexation persists and is going to continue till advertisers start paying more for advertising on kids channels.

“The kids genre contributes 9 per cent of total TV viewership at C&S 4+; however, it accounts for less than 2 per cent of the total TV ad revenue.  While ad revenue for the category has witnessed significant growth of over 15 per cent CAGR in a span of 5 years, a large disparity still remains which we hope to rectify as we go along,” Jaipuria said.

Driving engagement through characters

Jaipuria believes in a twofold strategy for Nick, Sonic, Nick Jr./Teen Nick. The first is to build a wide and deep portfolio of lovable characters that cater to viewers across all age groups. The second is to drive brand engagement through multiple touch points by building an ecosystem beyond television spanning large-format on-ground events, online and mobile platforms, vast consumer products portfolio and many such brand extensions.

Samurai Power Rangers LogoThe strategy was brought alive by various campaigns such as Nickelodeon’s ‘Nick Be the Boss’ and ‘Comedy Elections’ and brand extensions like the Motu Patlu movie franchise of four exclusive made-for-television movies.

Sonic saw high-decibel campaigns like ‘Meet the Power Rangers in the USA’ and ‘The Back To School’ campaign. Nick Jr. saw its most adored character Dora, the preschool hero engage with children through meet-and-greets across cities, celebrating special occasions like Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day.

Teen Nick leveraged the virtual space with the first ever ‘TeenNick Virtual House Party’, an innovative campaign that brought together social media and television live for the first time.

“The characters were brought alive with consumer products portfolio with launches across multiple categories such as Motu Patlu apparel, Ninja Hattori back-to-school range, Dora accessories and several more. All these engagements took our characters closer to the viewers and helped tangibilise the relationship with them,” Jaipuria explained.

On viewer engagement outside television, Jaipuria mentioned that the kids franchise has reached out to five million children across the country through innovative online and offline campaigns.

“Online and on-ground engagement with the kids has also been a significant and an important indicator of the bond that children have with the Nick toons. 3.5 million page views on Nickindia.com and 1.75 million page views on sonicgang.com, with over 5 minutes of average time spent on each page, are great performance indicators of our online engagement,” Jaipuria shared.

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