Today brands are keen to be present with children from an early age as it helps create a lasting association. Moreover, even non-kids category brands are also showing interest in the kids' genre, as per Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18.
In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Jaipuria stated that new categories of brands are tapping into the kids’ genre to figure out what they can do in that space and this year, many of them approached the Nickelodeon network to advertise their products/services.
Meanwhile, explaining how Nickelodeon has differentiated itself from others in the industry, Anu Sikka, Head - Creative, Content and Research, Kids TV Network, Viacom18, said that while the network has a large library of shows and a variety of IPs, Nickelodeon’s focus is on Indian IP's.
If a brand is with children from an early age, it is going to stay with them for a longer time
Jaipuria said, “All our research tells us that over a period of time, household decisions have become more inclusive. For example, if a family is planning to go on a vacation they consider their child in that decision-making. The reverse of that is also true - where brands are wanting to make themselves present and felt at the early age of the child so that they carry the brand as they grow.”
“Therefore, you form a habit with the child in the young days, especially the non-kids advertiser who is into consumer products. If you are with the child from their early days then that brand is going to stay with them no matter how grown up they are. Therefore, brands are wanting to be in the kids' genre for that one reason,” she added.
She went on to state that the second reason is that the brands know that India is largely a one-TV household and there is much co-viewing on channels. Nickelodeon is also a frequency builder for a lot of brands because it delivers a high reach and because of all of these reasons it has become an imperative part of the brand’s media plans.
Speaking about the new category of brands that have started showing interest in the kids’ genre, Jaipuria said, “This year we got Tata Consumer Products to advertise. Then we also got H&M, Apollo Pharmacy and Havmore. So, there are a lot of advertisers who have tapped into the kids’ genre for the first time.”
Kids' preferences evolved over time but some pieces are timeless
Sikka acknowledged that some TV shows have a timeless quality that can be enjoyed for years.
“Ninja Hattori, a show that has been around for decades, was launched by us in 2004 and it remains extremely popular even today. Children's tastes and preferences have evolved over time as they are now exposed to a vast array of content, not only through traditional TV channels but also on digital platforms,” she added.
Explaining how the viewership patterns have changed, Sikka stated that unlike in earlier times, kids do not want to watch repeat episodes but rather they opt for newer content.
“In the past, the lead character was typically depicted as a faultless and ideal individual. However, in today's media landscape, imperfect characters are often portrayed as protagonists, and these characters are readily embraced by audiences. This represents a shift away from the former emphasis on creating characters that were entirely fantastical. A good example of this trend can be seen in the cartoon characters Chikoo and Bunty, who are both flawed and unique, yet have been well-received by viewers. As a result, new genres, characters, and storylines have emerged for children that offer a broader range of character types and plot developments that are now embraced by contemporary audiences,” Sikka said.
Further strengthening its content game, the kids’ franchise has announced the launch of two new IPs, ‘Abhimanyu Ki Alien Family’ starting April 24, 2023, from Monday to Friday at 12 noon on Nick and ‘Kanha – Morpankh Samrat’ which will start airing at the end of May on Sonic.
“We have already differentiated ourselves from others in the industry and that is giving us all the success. We have created a large library of shows since 2011. The number of local IPs and episodes that we have created are the highest as compared to other channels in the category. We do focus on international IPs but our main focus is on the Indian IPs we create,” Sikka said.
Furthermore, she went on to say that Nick channel’s entire content is Indian and it wants to stay focused on creating its own content because it has a bigger control in terms of the kind of stories the network wants to tell and the characters want to develop. Whereas, in acquiring content you don't have control over the stories that you are telling.
While discussing the development of cartoons in the Indian context, Sikka emphasised that mythological tales and characters such as Krishna and Ganesha remain timeless.
“These figures have a permanent place in people's imaginations, regardless of whether they are adults or children. Every channel must be producing shows based on these iconic characters due to their popularity. Furthermore, these are stories that are familiar to many, having been read or heard by children at some point,” Sikka said.
“In the case of Nickelodeon’s new IP ‘Kanha – Morpankh Samrat’, the character Kanha is portrayed not as a deity, but as a 12 or 13-year-old boy who is mischievous, a wonderful son, and a protector of his village. To children, he is a hero, and they would desire a sibling or friend like Kanha. Therefore, stories with an Indian context are being presented to children in an appealing manner,” she added.
Nickelodeon continues to lead the kids’ entertainment category with a 31% market share
According to Jaipuria, as the sample size has grown, Nickelodeon has now achieved the highest reach in both urban and rural areas. Specifically, she stated that on a franchise basis, Nickelodeon's viewership has reached 44 million people and their closest competitor’s reach is 37 million.
“We have a 31% market share which is almost 1/3rd of the whole market. Therefore, we have maintained this pole position for the longest time despite the plenty of choices that kids have. It is about the width and depth of content that we have been delivering consistently over the years. Kids are coming back to watch what is being tailor-made for them,” she said.
“Three out of five children watching kids’ genre are on the Nickelodeon network,” Jaipuria added.
According to Jaipuria, 'Abhimanyu Ki Alien Family' is a genre that has never been done before. For the marketing of this new IP, a whole mass media approach has been planned along with a below-the-line approach because it is summer and the viewership will surge.
“Kids are at home and we know that they are watching a lot more TV outside of the kids' genre so we will be on the GEC platforms including our own Colors, Cineplex and music channels etc. Then we also have a watch-and-win contest on our channel right now. We have created a game 'Run Abhimanyu Run' for the show which gives viewers a chance to play with the characters and engage with them,” she stated
The objective is not just to establish more than just a marketing strategy aimed at increasing awareness but to foster a level of involvement with children.
“Throughout the years, our primary focus has been on crafting exceptional narratives and developing captivating characters that establish a unique emotional connection with children, ultimately leading to the formation of a habitual comfort zone. As a result, kids repeatedly choose to engage with our content. We have successfully launched 11 shows so far and are currently in the process of unveiling two additional ones. However, our approach does not solely revolve around generating IPs, but also centres on crafting fresh storylines for each existing IP,” Jaipuria stated.
According to a statement by Nickelodeon, channels Nick and Sonic delivered the highest reach in the kid’s category - over 29 million and 24 million in FY22-23, respectively.
In a roundtable event by the network, it was informed that in FY22-23, Nickelodeon held the largest share of advertising revenue in the children's entertainment genre, accounting for 36% of the total. Disney followed with 24% of the advertising revenue share, while Warner + Discovery was in third place with 18% of the share. Sun, Sony, and other networks had 11%, 9%, and 2% shares, respectively, in the same period.
The time has come when animation will go beyond the kids’ genre
“I aspire for our contribution to the advancement of Indian animation to bring substantial benefits to the entire industry. Our creation of innovative content allows animation studios to exhibit their capabilities to a wider audience and potentially receive international contracts. The triumph of these productions can further enable studios to present the IPs to global markets for potential collaboration and recognition,” Sikka said.
She believes that the time has come when animation will go beyond the kids’ genre as well. Animation will no longer be regarded as a format which is meant only to cater to children, soon it will become a medium to tell stories to adults as well.