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Viacom18’s content plan to grow the kids TV business
MUMBAI: Viacom18’s kids network is coming out with 200 fresh episodes across characters and channels following a buoyant FY17 despite the impact of demonetisation.
The network, which owns and operates Nick, Sonic, Nick Jr and Nick HD+, will launch a new local animation series titled ‘Gattu Battu’ produced by Toonz Animation. With ‘Gattu Battu’, Nick is exploring a new genre that combines crime thriller with comedy.
It is also launching fresh shows across its kids network. Nick will see fresh episodes of ‘Motu Patlu’ and ‘Ninja Hattori’ while Sonic will have fresh episodes of ‘Shiva’ and ‘Pakdam Pakdai’. Nick has also acquired the exclusive TV rights to ‘Oggy & the Cockroaches’. This will ensure that the show will air only on Sonic.
Also on the anvil are two ‘Motu Patlu’ movies in May and June, namely ‘Motu Patlu King of Kings’ and ‘Motu Patlu in Dragon World’.
“We will have close to 200 episodes of fresh content on all our kids channels. These exclude the acquired content. We do 4–5 movies per show every quarter,” said Viacom18 head of kids entertainment Nina Elavia Jaipuria.
‘Gattu Battu’ will be the third locally produced animation show after ‘Motu Patlu’, ‘Shiva’ and ‘Pakdam Pakdai’. “We have been taking risks by tapping new genres and we felt that investigative is a genre that can be explored. We will continue to look at whitespaces,” Jaipuria noted.
Performance in FY17
Talking about the performance of the franchise in FY17, Jaipuria said that Nick had solidly held on to its leadership position while Sonic was slowly catching up in the viewership game. Nick and Sonic had a viewership share of 19% and 10% respectively.
This is the first time that Sonic has come closer to double-digit viewership share. Last year in a calculated move, Nick had moved its newly launched blockbuster show ‘Shiva’ to Sonic. The attempt was to make Sonic the second strong kids channel in the network. Prior to that, it had moved ‘Pakdam Pakdai’ to Sonic.
“Our franchise share is 31% and we hope to sustain Nick’s leadership and Sonic’s growth in 2017,” she stated.
Jaipuria also pointed out that the kids genre had not felt the pinch of the over-the-top (OTT) platforms. “Despite all the OTT platforms, there has been no impact on the mainstream C&S. We continue to deliver 6–8% of viewership. We continue to be bigger than all the genres except GEC and movies,” she said.
Asked whether Sonic had eaten into Nick’s viewership, Jaipuria said that the impact was miniscule, which it had taken cognisance of while moving two of its key properties to the channel.
Jaipuria also said that the Nick franchise grew at 20% in FY17 with yields on Nick and Sonic growing by 25% and 40% respectively. “The category grew at about 10% last year and we as a franchise grew by 20%. The total ad pie is Rs 500 crore,” Jaipuria said.
She also noted that demonetisation shaved off 15–20% revenue growth during the fiscal year. “It took away all the surpluses. My April–June quarter was the biggest of the year and the biggest summer in 10 years and then demonetisation happened. We got hit by about 15–20% from revenue perspective. Normally, October–December is a good quarter for us. However, after demonetisation December and January revenue crashed and we recovered in February,” she elaborated.
FTA kids channel
Jaipuria also informed that the Viacom18 management had discussed launching a free-to-air (FTA) kids channel. However, the idea was shelved as an FTA channel in the kids genre was found to be an unsound business proposition.
“We don’t plan to launch an FTA channel, but there was a boardroom discussion whether Viacom18 should launch a kids FTA channel,” Jaipuria said.
She contended that there were two challenges in launching an FTA channel. The first was creating original content for the channel and the second involved monetising it.
“It’s not easy to launch a kids FTA channel because the shelf life of our content is long. It’s easy for GEC because their content doesn’t have a long shelf life. We have to create content for an FTA channel. I can’t use what I have for Nick or Sonic for an FTA. It becomes too much repetition and wearing out of our content. Creating animation content is expensive. A single episode costs anywhere from Rs 30–50 lakh,” Jaipuria averred.
She added further, “The second challenge is whether we can monetise. What we have seen with ‘Maha Cartoon’ is that it doesn’t have a single advertiser when you look at AdEx.”
Jaipuria also ruled out launching any segmented kids channels since the network had plugged all the gaps already.
The network also discontinued the ‘Teen Nick’ block on Nick Jr. and moved it to Nick HD+. “We have got Nick Jr. as a 24-hour channel because we got feedback that kids were watching this. Thus, teen is not the kind of content that we want to put on the channel. The ‘Teen Nick’ block has moved to Nick HD+ because we believe that this is the audience that is consuming English sitcoms,” Jaipuria informed.