Industry overviewThe children’s genre has emerged as the largest viewership segment after India’s general entertainment channel (GEC) sector. The segment comprised 18.3 per cent of the viewership among 4–14 year olds in 2011, as compared to 16.9 per cent in 2010.
Advertising revenue generated by the children’s genre totaled Rs 2.4 billion in 2011, up from Rs 2 billion in 2010. This is attributed to the growth in the viewership in the children’s genre from 43 million in 2010 to 48 million in 2011.
This segment focuses on its target audience through a total of 14 channels in the age groups of 2–4 years and 4–14 years, comprising the majority of the market, as well as 14–18 years.
The cartoons and animation genre is the most popular and accounted for 85 per cent of TV viewership ratings (TVR) in the genre in 2011. Children’s programming comprised 12 per cent of the market and feature films 2 per cent of the total TVR in 2011.The children’s entertainment genre has evolved in the last few years since when Cartoon Network was the only channel for children in India. The number of channels dedicated to them has been increasing in the past few years with the launch of new channels such as Nick, Hungama, Pogo, Spacetoon and Khushi TV by domestic and foreign players. CBeebies, launched by BBC in 2010, focuses exclusively on children below the age of six years.
The year 2011 also saw the entrance of new channels such as Sonic, catering to the age group of 10–17 years, as well as the growth of content in regional languages. Earlier, children’s channels aired shows such as Tom And Jerry.
However, there are several local shows such as Roll No. 21 and Chhota Bheem being produced in India today.
Localisation of content: Although 76 per cent of content in the children’s genre was still in English in 2011, the demand for content in Hindi and regional languages has increased significantly.
In Tamil, the the share of the children’s genre was higher than that of the news segment in 2011. Sun TV Network launched its Malayalam children’s channel, Kochu, in 2011 after having introduced Chutti TV in Tamil in 2007, and Kushi TV in Telugu and Chintu TV in Kannada in 2009. Maa TV Network launched Maa Junior in Telugu, its first channel in the children’s space, in 2011. Discovery Kids, launched in India this year, plans to broadcast local as well as global content.
Increased interactivity: Children are consuming more content on the internet than ever before, with increased interactivity due to easy access to mobiles. Channels in the children’s genre have websites such as nickindia.com and sonicgang.com on which the audience can communicate directly with broadcasters. These websites also provide games, downloads and wallpapers to increase engagement with their users, e.g., the Keymon game on Nokia had two million downloads in 2011.
Social media is another source used by children’s channels to interact with their target audience through contests. Nick had more than 200,000 fans, while Sonic had 100,000 fans on Facebook in 2011. However, this medium may be subject to restrictions by parents, who may limit their children’s usage of social media.
Seasonality of viewership: The children’s genre witnesses an increase of around 20 per cent in viewership during the summer vacation for schools in India. This gives broadcasters the opportunity to generate enhanced revenues during this period.
Turner International India launched several programs and marketing initiatives during the summer months this year. Cartoon Network introduced new episodes of its popular shows as well as contests to engage its target audience, while the Disney Network presented 500 hours of new content for the current season. Walt Disney International India plans several children’s movie premieres during this season.
Growth of merchandising: Merchandising has become an important tool to connect with children over the last few years, since they demand their favourite characters in the form of stationery, bags, toys and clothes.
Licensing and merchandising of products offer a large opportunity to channels in the children’s genre to reach their target audience. Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising division of Cartoon Network and Pogo, grew by 70 per cent in 2011, with its products being available in more than 5,300 retail counters across the country.
In April 2012, Disney entered a licensing agreement with the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians to launch co-branded merchandise products that are targeted at the under-14 kids segment.
Restrictions on content: Broadcasters need to be careful while creating content for children’s channels because parents often object to loud content and aggressive language in children’s entertainment shows.
According to the 2011 Cartoon Network New Generations Research, 48 per cent of parents exercise control over the programs their children watch. Furthermore, channels need to broadcast content that engages children as well as their parents, since 66 per cent of parents watch TV with their children.
High cost of content: Animated content typically makes it easier for broadcasters to capture the attention of children by building an imaginary world for them. Production of content in the children’s genre entails heavy costs, since the bulk of programming is animated. For example, Cartoon Network and Pogo together aired 25,000 episodes of shows with animated content in 2011.Animated content is not only costlier, but also more complex, since it takes a longer time to be produced than non-animated content.
Viewership-ad revenue gap: The return on investment for shows on children’s channels is not proportional to the viewership. While this genre garners a 6 per cent share of the total viewership in India’s TV industry, it only generates 1.6 per cent of its total revenues. This can be attributed to the fact that advertisers in the non-children’s categories have not traditionally focused on this segment.
Lack of sustainability: The children’s genre faces the challenge of retaining the interest of its target viewers, since children usually have a shorter attention span compared to adults. The channels that are focused on specific age groups, e.g., children below the age of six, lose their viewers once they grow older. Moreover, children’s channels are unable to capture the attention of a vast audience. According to TAM Media Research, only 15 per cent of the children viewing TV watch these channels.Content owners therefore need to create a greater impact on their viewers with the use of strong characters and content that has elements of fun and education to engage children.
The way forward
Opportunity for advertisers: Today, children have a definite say in the decision-making process for purchases in households, with 63 per cent of the parents involving their children in such decisions.This gives advertisers an opportunity to engage with children on channels that are dedicated to them. Children are more receptive to products recommended by their favorite cartoon characters than to regular campaigns.
Therefore, not only traditional advertisers of FMCG or children’s products, but also non-traditional advertisers such as of automobiles and electronic devices should target this platform. In 2011, around 35-40 per cent of the advertising expenditure on Cartoon Network and Pogo was from non-traditional advertisers.
Furthermore, 20 per cent of the audience that watches children’s channels is in the age group of 25 to 44 years. This gives advertisers the opportunity to target their adult audience through children’s channels.
Increased focus on content: With India witnessing a digitisation drive, there is likely to be a heightened focus on content, since viewers are expected to be more discerning with a wider choice of channels being available for them.
Furthermore, with new channels being launched in this genre, competition is likely to increase and content emerge as a key differentiator. Channels are also realising the importance of producing content in regional languages. In line with this trend, children’s channels are expected to produce and air locally relevant programs, sourced from within the country, to increase their appeal. Indian comic characters are also attracting the attention of children’s channels.
Distribution on digital platforms: Today, it is common for children to consume content on more than one platform. This presents an attractive opportunity for broadcasters to expand the presence of a brand or a character in the mobile and online space through smart phones, tablets and computers. Channels can use popular TV content on online and mobile platforms.
Broadcasters and content houses are also increasingly working toward building “anytime anywhere” access to content. Furthermore, due to the rapid technological evolution we are witnessing today, content can be made available on several platforms without any additional cost.