Determined to focus on desi toons and desi treatment, Sony Pictures Networks India’s upcoming kids channel Yay! will go on air on April 18, 2017, at 6 am in three Indian languages — Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Entering into the Rs-500 crore kids broadcast business, the channel’s target is till the age group of 14. However, the content will mainly cater to kids within the six to eight age bracket.
Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, Yay said, “Between 7 am and 10 pm, 80 per cent of our content will be local. We will be launching two more shows in October this year and after that, we will be a full-desi kids channel with exclusive local content.”
With such huge focus on localisation, it is no wonder the channel is investing heavily on content right from the start. Launching four original shows with the start of the channel and then two more in October, the plan is to build a total of 52 episodes for each of these shows by the end of this year. The channel owns all of these intellectual properties. These shows include Guru Aur Bhole (musical comedy), Sab Jholmaal Hai (chase comedy with pets), Prince Jai Aur Dumdaar Viru (adventurous friendship) and Comedy Paap-O-Meter (laugh out loud ghost).
NP Singh, CEO, SPN said, “It was a conscious call to launch with four new shows and to make the channel with 100 per cent original content. It requires a lot of effort and investment.”
Animation is very expensive content as compared to live action series. A half-an-hour episode can cost anywhere between Rs 40-50 lakh for animation, which means that the channel is betting big on the kids genre.
The channel has roped in cinestar Tiger Shroff as its brand ambassador who appears in all the show’s promos. The channel will also bring its popular block anime from Animax to Yay! Soon.
The channel will be launched without advertising initially, though eventually there will be promotions. Singh said, “The channel has been presented to the advertisers and the response is good. An emerging trend says that kids are participating heavily in decision making — what to buy, wear, eat, drive and everything. So, this category becomes extremely important to us.”
The channel did a lot of research with both parents and kids before finalising the content of the channel. Dutta said, “As per our research, the market had a shortage of local content; more shortage of differentiated local content. Musical comedy and ghosts in animation are something that is happening for the first time. We asked the kids about their problems. They mentioned issues that are very big to them, though otherwise they are very trivial like — stealing pencils, bullying or stealing cream from biscuits. These are sins, which are then resolved by the Paap-o-meter.”
The channel is also looking at merchandising and events with these characters once these are established in their TG. While it is generally seen that parents mostly control the content kids consume, SPN is quite confident on the quality of the content.
“We are a responsible broadcaster. There is a research that has been done as to know what parents want to watch — both on content and communication. We will try to impart good values through content, without being preachy,” added Singh.
Singh agreed that the genre is highly under-indexed, though the condition is improving. “Last year we saw a 20 per cent correction. Mothers also consume a lot of content. This also expands viewer base and scope of advertising.”
In a genre that already has over 10 players, the kids obviously have chosen their favourite characters. But Yay! is still confident of gaining loyalty, said Dutta. “The channel is being launched at the onset of summer when kids have extra time to sample new content, even if they are loyalists to particular shows or characters.”
Sony Yay! will be available across direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable platforms. The channel will be promoted extensively across various channels of Sony Pictures Networks, DTH platforms, coupled with print, a robust digital and social media presence to engage with the young audience at different touch points.
As of now, the kids’ genre has Disney network (Disney Channel India, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Hungama) with 33 per cent share, Nickelodeon (Nickelodeon, Sonic, Nick Junior and Nick HD) with 31 per cent and Turner Broadcasting (Cartoon Network and Pogo) with 27 per cent. Other than these, there are channels like Maha Cartoon TV — the FTA in kids.