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Interview: Mark Eyers, Chief Content Officer, Kids Networks, Turner International APAC

"This year our key focus is to double-down on comedy. Our aim is also to provide new and exciting offerings across non-linear platforms"

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | April 4, 2014

Mark Eyers Mark Eyers

Cartoon Network has entered its 20th year in the Asia Pacific region. It is now the number one international kids’ channel in seven markets, including India. What has been the content strategy?

For two decades, although the content on Cartoon Network has changed to reflect trends and demands from kids, its core content strategy remains the same. Our content is uniquely surprising, humorous, animated, exciting and fun. We also look out for comedic content with ‘sound-off’ visual humour. This brand of universally popular brand comedy is best demonstrated by Tom and Jerry, Oggy and the Cockroaches, and Mr Bean. Last but not least, content needs to be original. Cartoon Network comedy is not derivative or generic, so kids never have that feeling that they’ve seen it somewhere before.

After all is said and done, viewers are evolving each year. How are you planning to better the content and programming this year?

Having an extensive and exciting content pipeline is a cornerstone to Cartoon Network’s programming strategy. New series that are either running or lined up include Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, Mixels, Exchange Student Zero, Monster Beach. Additionally, there are all new episodes of old favourites like Adventure Time, Ben 10, Tom and Jerry and Roll No. 21. In India, we will continue to invest in our long-format properties Lights Camera POGO and Cartoon Network Popcorn.

Unlike five-six years ago, Cartoon Network now has a lot of Indian shows as well as the American shows which were always popular. Do you see a change in the viewing pattern in India?

In Asia Pacific, Cartoon Network follows an 80:20 strategy, with 80 per cent international content and 20 per cent local or homegrown. In India, to meet the rising demand from kids for local content, Turner established the ‘Desi Toons’ strategy, which emphasises relevant content that resonates with kids. This strategy can also involve more international shows in local languages, or acquiring locally-made content, as well as original productions. Properties such as Roll No. 21, Kid Krrish and Chakra: The Invincible are testament to this endeavour.

We noticed tie-ups with movies and mini-series on CN. Is this a trend which is likely to continue?

Cartoon Network is a pioneering, multi-platform destination with engaging, exciting, novel and innovative cartoons – in both short and long form. Partnerships such as Kid Krrish and Chakra: The Invincible are firsts of their kind with the backing of large media conglomerates. I expect that there will be many more similar projects.

How do you plan to market the channel and its shows now that you have already achieved such milestones? How important are road shows and digital platforms for the whole Turner camp?

Turner believes in creating brand experiences. As such kids want to engage with content across all touchpoints, whether it’s on-air, online, on-the-ground, at a theme park or when they’re buying consumer products. Cartoonnetworkindia.com is the leading kids’ website in India and the Cartoon Network India Facebook page continues to grow in popularity with almost one million ‘likes’ to date. Additionally, on an annual basis we conduct several on-ground events in the form of school contact programmes, road shows and award shows that connect with millions across the country.

You have worked with other brands. What are the difficulties and challenges of co-production?

All co-productions are collaborations and it is essential that all partners bring their passion and expertise to back a project. Working with partners where the brand is a natural fit is imperative. Lastly, the end objective and target audience should be the same for all partners.

What are we likely to expect from Turner's different channels in India this year?

This year our key focus is to double-down on comedy. We have already paved the way with shows like Steven Universe and Mixels earlier this year but there’s so much more in the pipeline. Our aim is also to provide new and exciting offerings across non-linear platforms. For instance, we recently launched the ‘Cartoon Network Watch and Play’ app in Asia Pacific as an innovative offering that enabled kids to simultaneously watch video content and play games. Lastly, Turner’s kids’ networks will continue their commitment to quality local, regional and international original content.

Sohini.Sen@BestMediaInfo.com

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