‘India ranks in our top five content export territories around the world’

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Xilam Animation is making strides in growing its portfolio of IPs and shows. India is one of its key markets where it has long-standing partnerships with broadcasters like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon. Its show ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ has grown in popularity in the country on YouTube. TelevisionPost.com’s Ashwin Pinto caught up with Xilam Animation CEO Marc du Pontavice to talk more about the company.

Excerpts:

What goals has Xilam Animation set itself in 2019 and how does it hope to achieve these?

Already 2019 is shaping up to be another year of significant growth for Xilam and we’re expecting to deliver approximately 80 half hours of new original animation. This new wave of content will include episodes of ‘Mr Magoo’ which will air on Cartoon Network Asia in a few months, alongside the third season of ‘Zig And Sharko’ which launches on Nickelodeon India later this year.

We will also soon be announcing an exciting new development based on our internationally successful brand ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.

What is Xilam Animation’s USP for Indian broadcasters compared to kids’ content being sold from other markets such as the US and Japan?

At Xilam we have a unique, highly creative approach to storytelling; as some of our shows are non-verbal, we have to invent a universal language that will resonate in every corner of the world to ensure our viewers can identify with the storylines and characters they are seeing on-screen. However, in certain countries with strong cultural identities such as India, we encourage the use of local voiceovers to make a show more tailored and engaging for local audiences.

How important is India as a market for Xilam Animation in comparison to the rest of the Asia Pacific?

India is a hugely important market for us, and in addition to being our main market in Asia, accounting for 30-50% of our business in the region, it also ranks in our top five content export territories around the world.

Could you talk about the partnerships that you have with Indian kids’ broadcasters like Cartoon Network and how you plan to build upon these?

Cartoon Network has been an incredibly loyal and supportive broadcast partner to Xilam for many years, playing a crucial role in helping us understand the needs of the local market. We are now striving to replicate the strength of this relationship across all our licensing, content and digital enterprises in India.

What does Xilam Animation look for in new properties and animations?

We’re always looking for properties and animation with a distinct concept, in addition, a unique visual and audio style. With so much competition, we need properties that hook in kids immediately, cut through the noise and keep audiences tuning in episode after episode.

However, in the long term, it’s ultimately the characters that are the most important factor and how effectively they deliver values and emotions to our fans. In that respect, we have very strong expectations for our newest show, ‘The Fabulous Adventures of Moka’.

It’s a coming-of-age story about a young prince, who desperately wants to see the good in everyone, exploring his kingdom for the first time. It provides a unique blend of adventure, comedy, and sweetness and it’s 7’ format is ideal to push the physical comedy element of the show, while also enabling us to place emphasis on the emotional journey of our characters.

How is digital helping Xilam Animation achieve a greater presence in India?

Amazon Prime Video has done a fantastic job supporting a large part of Xilam’s catalogue with its launch of our content two years ago. Now, as the speed of internet continues to accelerate in India, we’re also looking to work with YouTube in the market and will be launching a dedicated channel for kids’ in India this year.

Today kids have a plethora of media options and platforms. What is the secret to making sure that they keep returning to a show week after week?

The secret to making sure that they keep returning to a show week after week lies with the characters, the values, and emotions a show conveys. ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ and ‘Doraemon’ – the two most popular foreign shows in India – have continued to perform exceptionally well over the last few years as a result of their winning formulas.

What new IPs does Xilam Animation have launching this year?

We have the brand new ‘Mr Magoo’ launching on Cartoon Network this year which is based on the hugely successful 1960’s cartoon of the same name and was commissioned by France Télévisions, K2 Italy and Cartoon Network Asia. Alongside this, we’ll also have the eagerly anticipated third season of our internationally successful kids’ comedy, ‘Zig and Sharko’ on Nickelodeon.

In kids’ broadcasting, licensing and merchandising revenue is as important as TV – could you talk about the partnership with Dream Theatre in India and what developments are L&M expected this year in the market?

A key focus for us it is strengthening our relationship with Dream Theatre, particularly as ‘Oggy And The Cockroaches’ has never been more popular in India. We’re also continuing to build upon our successful collaboration with local mobile games company, Nazara, which is now developing the fourth ‘Oggy And The Cockroaches’ game. The Oggy apps continue to be hugely popular with fans in India, with the first game alone notching up an impressive five million downloads since June 2018.


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