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Disney Channel gets live action shows to entertain families and widen ad pool

MUMBAI: Come January, Disney Channel India will make a big shift from being a purely kids channel to a family entertainment channel with the launch of five family-oriented live action shows in the weekend primetime slot.

The move, company executives say, will help The Walt Disney Company India’s flagship kids channel to broaden the horizon of its viewers. The strategic move has been timed around Disney’s completion of 10 years in the country.

While animation content forms the staple diet of kids’ channels, Disney Channel had begun experimenting with live action shows with the launch of ‘Best of Luck Nikki’ and ‘The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir’.

Disney-channel-insideTo begin with, Disney will have three hours of live action content during weekends. These shows will also be repeated during prime time on weekdays. The time slots have been finalised, but the channel has kept it under wraps.

The five new live action shows are ‘Maan Na Maan Mein Tera Mehman’ (Optimystix), ‘Kabhi Aise Geet Gaya Karo (Cinevistas), ‘Goldie Ahuja Matric Pass’ (The Troublemakers), ‘Lage Raho Chachu’ and ‘Zindagi Khatti Meethi’.

The shows are expected to go on air towards the end of January.

“Having consistently established ourselves as the leading destination for kids, we felt that there is an opportunity for us to entertain families during the weekend,” said Disney India Media Networks VP and head of content and communication Vijay Subramaniam.

He further added that while there is a lot of co-viewing by the parents and child, it is time to take that to the next level. “While there is co-viewing, it is largely centred on the child. The idea is to make co-viewing active and participative,” Subramaniam said.

The weekday programming comprising animation content will continue as before.

According to Subramaniam, animation does not have the same level of connection with adults as live action does. “Live action is a great bridge for kids and adults to be entertained together,” he averred.

Without revealing the specifics of the marketing campaign, Subramaniam stated that audio visuals will form the bedrock of the marketing campaign.

“Our media mix is completely audio visual and it will be promoted heavily on DTH. Besides, we will be using our own network to get the message across,” he stated. The brand films promoting the new shows are also running during the screening of Aamir Khan-starrer ‘PK’.

While conceding that it is a challenge to build appointment viewing on the channel during weekends as kids channels have their own prime time, Subramaniam said that the viewer behaviour is different for prime time.

“The families are more relaxed and there is lot more opportunity to co-view,” he said, adding that the shows with a mix of humour and emotion will resonate with the families.

The channel will also work with DTH and cable TV service providers to create opportunity for consumers to sample the content.

Opportunity to get good ad rates

Disney India Media Networks VP and head of revenue Nikhil Gandhi said that the kids genre is highly underleveraged and the launch of live action shows will aid not just in attracting new advertisers, but also correcting the pricing anomalies in the kids segment.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to move into the scaled-up version of what our business is going to look like going forward. With the expansion of viewership base, there is an opportunity to gain new advertisers. Besides, there is the pricing opportunity,” said Gandhi.

He further stated that the aspiration of the channel is to reach the pricing of a GEC.

“It’s a seven-channel genre apart from few regional channels in the mix. The size of the ad market is Rs 350 crore (Rs 3.5 billion). Over a period of time, it has been in the same zone with 5–10 per cent maximum growth. So it’s highly underleveraged with 50 GRPs in 4+ audience because you don’t get the price that you get for a GEC,” he explained.