Sony Yay! doubles down on its efforts to expand presence in kids genre

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MUMBAI: Having completed two years, Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPNI) kids channel Sony Yay! is doubling down on its efforts to expand its viewership share in the genre.

In terms of the pecking order, Sony Yay! is in the sixth position on an all-India basis in the genre with 8.5% share. The channel hopes to move up the ladder and has lined up over 100 hours of fresh content for the summer period.

The content includes 13 movies which comprise nearly 20% of the channel’s FPC. The broadcaster has scaled down its original shows to four compared to the six it had earlier.

The feline duo of ‘Sab Jholmaal Hai’ has been integrated into the show ‘Honey Bunny’ which has now been renamed ‘Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal’. The other three key shows for the channel are ‘KickO And Super Speedo’, ‘Guru Aur Bhole’ and ‘Paap-O-Meter’.

The broadcaster is making a concerted push towards digital through content on SonyLIV based on its show characters. It also revived its YouTube channel in the latter part of 2018 and claims to have received a strong response.

On the distribution front, it is looking to launch its feed in the US and Canada sometime in July-August. It is also in conversations to launch in the UK. It also has a deal in place with Netflix for some content.

SPNI business head kids genre Leena Lele Dutta noted that the strategy of having seven language feeds has paid off and it is in a solid position in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala. She noted that on all India basis, it has overtaken older players like Cartoon Network.

She is confident of cracking the top five but concedes that dislodging Nickelodeon from its number one position will be quite a task. In FY20, the aim is to be two times in what it does compared to the past whether it is content, engagement, or platforms. This includes going deeper into characters, themes whether its comedy, slapstick.

“We have gotten into a production pipeline with many animation studios and have extended our bank of writers. We have kind of made sure that whatever content we put out there is novel, new and speaks to the kids. It is the width, depth and content mix that is our focus,” Leena stated.

Talking about the scaling down of original shows, she noted, “We had launched the channel with six shows. Two fell off the shelf and we are going ahead with four. We did a focus group and we saw clear traction of the four shows that have stuck with viewers.”

As part of its summer strategy, the channel launched new episodes of ‘Guru Aur Bhole’ in mid-March. In mid-April, the channel launched ‘Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal’. The channel has new episodes from 10:30 am -3 pm every day. During the weekend, the channel has six movies. ‘KickO And Super Speedo’ will come back with fresh episodes and movies from 15 May.

“We are looking at ‘Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal’ to aggregate GRPs while we expect ‘KickO And Super Speedo’ to create impact by giving them prime slots in the day. We end the summer with fresh episodes and movies from ‘Guru Aur Bhole’. We have not only added fresh content and new episodes on longer hours we have extended the offering for the child from the second half of March to the second half of June. This is our summer gamut,” she averred.

She said that in the first year the bank of movies on Sony Yay! was negligible. But now almost 20% of the FPC is made up of movies. She said that the shows that also have movies lend themselves to longer content. ‘KickO And Super Speedo’ was already a 22 minute an episode show. It needs time for the story to be told, evolved. Meanwhile ‘Honey Bunny’ which is an 11-minute episode could be extended into a 45-minute movie by adding situations, slapstick humour.

Sony Yay! Will launch six ‘Honey Bunny Ki Jholmaal’ movies, four ‘KickO And Super Speedo’ movies and three ‘Guru Aur Bhole’ movies.

“The promise is to have a movie every weekend. We made a conscious decision to get into long formats of the show just to increase the stickiness of the show and our characters. Our market share is 8.5% as of last week,” she stated.

Talking about the digital strategy, Leena stated that the channel is curating content on digital. It has revived its YouTube channel in November. The channel has a subscriber base of 600,000.

This summer, Sony Yay! is doing a whole lot of activation with SonyLIV wherein long and short formats will rest over there. Some of it will be behind a paywall. There will be a gaming zone and a Club Yay! resting on SonyLIV.

On the advertising front, the kids as a genre has become increasingly important for the advertiser due to the pester power that the kid has in the family. “Overall the inventory for the kids genre has risen by almost 20% if you compare the recently concluded fiscal with the previous fiscal. I don’t think that the rates have depleted and so I am sure that the ad pie has increased,” Leena noted.

Due to its growth in reach, Sony Yay! has seen a lot of new brands coming on-board like ed-tech, automobile, FMCG, and gaming.

She also said that the broadcaster is working on a non-exclusive basis with animation studios. So ‘Guru Aur Bhole’ is being animated in two studios. ‘Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal’ is getting animated in three studios. This is how the broadcaster is getting the volumes also coming.

Sony Yay! has a plethora of initiatives planned to keep kids engaged with their favourite toons across India. Malls in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, and Kochi, will allow kids to meet their favourite YAY toons up-close and personal. Sony YAY! van activation across India to more than 115 cities, will ensure that the fun-filled characters meet and play with as many young fans.


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