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Subscription model is a viable business option in India, says Ryan Shiotani of BBC

In an interaction with, Ryan Shiotani, SVP and GM, South and South East Asia, BBC talks about the return of CBeebies in India

Ryan Shiotani

BBC Studios has announced the re-launch of its popular children's channel CBeebies in India, targeted at kids under six years of age. In an interaction with, Ryan Shiotani, SVP and GM, South and South East Asia, BBC, said they are excited to return to India and bring CBeebies linear channel back to the market.

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On the monetisation plans for the channel as it offers ad-free content, Shiotani said BBC Global News will be marketing and distributing the channel in India. "We are managing the cost structure very closely and it’s based on a subscription model. The TRAI rate for CBeebies channel is Rs 4 for the BBC bundle and Rs 5 for CBeebies on its own (a la carte)."

He said things have changed a lot in India in terms of business. They had discontinued operations in 2012 in the country. "In terms of business, a lot has changed since 2012. I think when we exited the market it was a time when there were delays in digitisation, which meant that operators had capacity issues. That's something that has gone away with the improvement in infrastructure over the years. There are no capacity issues like before," he said.

"The predominant model at that time, eight years ago, was the carriage fees driven model, where carriage fees had to be paid to operate and now the subscription model is a viable business model. Also, giving us strength in terms of distribution is BBC Global News, and so that makes it possible to enter now. A lot has changed over the past eight years," he added.

He said the platform's partnership with Voot Kids won't be affected and CBeebies content will continue to be available there.

Asked if the content would be available in languages other than English, Shiotani said they were planning to bring content in other Indian languages soon. "We are definitely looking at it for the future. But I would like to add that the feedback that we have had over the years is that audiences find that CBeebies or its content is a great way to expose pre-schoolers to spoken English."

While live events are usually used to market kids' content, Shiotani said they would be using social media excessively for communication and marketing the channel keeping in mind the current situation. He said they would conduct a number of entertaining interviews with their presenters. He said they would be partnering with magazines and websites targeted at parents.

Shiotani discussed the content strategy of the channel, "Our strategy in India is a multi-pronged approach, which includes both linear and digital. On digital, we have CBeebies branded content on Voot Kids. In addition to that, we have our own CBeebies YouTube channel that has content from CBeebies in the form of short clips and songs. Other ways that we're extending the CBeebies brand and content is through our website, which offers games activities that are related to the content that is on air. So it really is a digital and linear approach."

He said the positioning of the channel is unique because they focus on learning through play. "All of our content is produced with the involvement of child development specialists produced with specific curriculum goals." He said they have a combination of animation and live-action content that sets them apart from the rest of the players. "We know that kids like to see kids and adults on screen that are real people. That is something important to us and works well."

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