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Sony Yay! to enter kids genre with 85% local content, Animax content to shift to Sony Liv

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is all set to enter the hyper-competitive kids genre with the launch of Sony Yay! on 18 April. The pay channel, targeted at the 2–14 age group, will feature 85% locally produced original animated content and 15% acquired content.

Sony Yay! will be available in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu across direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable platforms. “We are launching this channel in three languages—Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Subsequently, we will launch in other languages as well. It will have an India reach on the day of launch,” said SPNI CEO NP Singh.

Like most kids channels, Sony Yay! will have animation as its key proposition as kids are anyway exposed to a lot of live action content in other genres. What will differentiate Yay! from the existing lot is the focus on local shows, said Singh.

With the arrival of Sony Yay! as a dedicated destination for kids, Animax will cease to exist on TV. SPNI will discontinue its Japanese anime channel Animax and will put the anime content on its digital VoD platform Sony Liv. Targeted at teens, the channel has a loyal audience base of its own. The network has for some time been contemplating the fate of the channel.

“We will discontinue Animax and all the anime content will be moved to digital on Sony Liv as Animax has its own set of loyal audiences,” said Singh.

(L-R) Tiger Shroff (Brand Ambassador, Sony YAY!), Leena Lele Dutta (Business Head, Sony YAY!), N P Singh (CEO, Sony Pictures Network) at the launch of Sony Pictures Network's new kid's channel Sony YAY!

(L-R) Tiger Shroff (Brand Ambassador, Sony YAY!), Leena Lele Dutta (Business Head, Sony YAY!), N P Singh (CEO, Sony Pictures Network) at the launch of Sony Pictures Network’s new kid’s channel Sony YAY!

Sony Yay! business head Leena Lele Dutta said that the kids genre average for local and acquired content is 40:60, and in some cases, 50:50.

“We are the first channel ever to launch a channel with indigenous shows. 85% of the content is original and 15% is acquired. We want our audiences to like us. Come October, we will launch three more. Kids relate to animation and not live action,” she said.

The channel’s DNA will be comedy and sub-genres within that. Its four local shows are in the comedy genre like comedy musical, comedy action, chase comedy and ghost.

Sony Yay!’s line-up includes ‘Guru Aur Bhole’, which is a new kind of musical comedy; ‘Sab Jholmaal Hai’, which showcases a world full of pets that’s nothing short of mischief and mayhem; ‘Prince Jai Aur Dumdaar Viru’, which is a classic tale of friendship; and ‘Ghost Comedy Paap-O-Meter’, a unique laugh-out-loud show. All four shows are of one-hour duration.

The first three shows will air during weekdays in the morning while, one show will air in the weekend. ‘Sab Jholmaal Hai’, ‘Guru Aur Bhole’ and ‘Prince Jai Aur Dumdaar Viru’ will come one after the other at 9 am, 10 am and 11 am respectively. ‘Paap-O-Meter’ will air on Saturday and Sunday at 12 pm. The original shows will be peppered with acquired content from Xilam and DQ Entertainment. The original shows will also have repeats during the afternoon band.

“The core proposition of the channel is localisation, fun, happiness, comedy and an ecosystem that goes beyond TV,” Dutta averred.

While conceding that the genre is highly cluttered, Singh assured that the channel would break through the clutter on the back of its strong content and relatable brand. “It’s a cluttered market, but we have succeeded in other genres. We have a very strong content line-up and the brand will differentiate itself from others in the genre. Yay! is a very relatable term that is used by kids in their everyday life,” Singh averred.

Sony Yay! will be initially in standard definition (SD) to give it a wider reach; however, the network will also look at an HD version later. “Subsequently, we will look at an HD channel,” Singh noted.

Dutta said that the channel would fill the void in the market with its content strategy.

According to Singh, launching a kids channel was natural for the network considering the number of kids audiences its channels were attracting. “We have attracted a lot of kids to our network whether its ‘CID’, ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ or ‘Baal Veer’,” he said.

Attesting to Singh’s point, Dutta said that the channel was conceived a year and a half ago. “After looking at the numbers of SPNI and the kids audiences that are residing on the network, we decided to give kids a destination of their own. We started our research by going to the length and breadth of the country,” she said.

The channel has roped in young cinestar Tiger Shroff as its brand ambassador. The channel will be promoted extensively across various channels of Sony Pictures Networks, DTH platforms and print. Besides, there will be robust digital and social media presence to engage with the young audience at different touch points.