Kid's Channels in India: An Evolution

Kids these days are pampered with choice. Look at the TV channels for them: Cartoon Network, Pogo, Hungama, Animax, Nickelodeon and 2 channels from Disney (I hope I didn’t miss any). Kids are a big market, and influence the choice of many FMCGs purchased (from biscuits to toothpaste), and hence these channels do great business.

When I was a kid, all I had during vacation was 2 hours of dedicated programming for kids on the metro channel of Doordarshan, called as fun-time. That was before the private TV channels hit India. Even after that, there was little focus on kids, with regular channels providing time-slots for kids programming.

The first big step in dedicated children’s entertainment was Cartoon Network or CN. CN also started sharing time with TNT, a movie channel. CN showed cartoons in the day, and TNT showed movies evening onwards. During that time it was believed that at primetime, children lost control on the TV. Soon Cartoon Network shattered the myth, by successfully becoming the first 24 channel for children in India.

Nickelodeon was launched at around this time, but it couldn’t make similar inroads. Indian kids found most of the shows too foreign to relate to. So CN continued its monopoly on the Indian market, with no other Channels coming to the fore. To tap into the rural Indian market, CN gave the option between Hindi and English subscription. But CN realised that with its total emphasis on cartoons, it was missing out on the tweens and early teens’ market. So CN came out with Pogo, a channel targeted at these age groups.

But in the past three years, a flurry of channels has come to India. Animax hit India with Japanese anime. Disney who till now, had been content with providing content to other channels, started two channels. Hungama was there, but it too spiced up its channel from being a non-descript, obscure channel to a prime competitor in the race.

And yet, the rural kids market is up for grabs. And why? Because of the same reason Nickelodeon didn’t work in India. Rural kids found many of the concepts too alien. That’s where Doordarshan scored with Shaktimaan. An Indian superhero saving Indians (and sometimes the universe), in locations they can relate to, with themes they are familiar with, speaking a language they understand. Shaktimaan became a huge hit all over India. No more marshmallow-chewing Americans saving the world.

TV channels have recently caught up to this trend. Disney has launched two Indian shows, Hatim & Aryamaan (which was on DD for some time). It plans to start an animated series, Hanuman (the movie that became such a hit with little ones). Pogo had roped in Shaktimaan a long back. Hungama also has its “Hero”. Cartoon network has started Raja Hindustani on Sundays for showing cartoons based on Indian legends. But going by CN’s previous ventures of Tenali Rama, and Akbar-Birbal, CN tends to cast characters into western stereotypes, which is why they don’t become popular in India.

With tremendous IT expertise, India has the potential of bringing about its own culture of animation series, just as Japan did so successfully. The success of Hanuman, the first full-length Indian animated series, has shut the naysayers up, who raised doubts about the acceptability of anime in Indian markets. Though technically not the most perfect animated film, Hanuman was able to do great business just because kids were able to relate to it. The children’s entertainment industry should take lessons from this.


Ships said…
They should have a Mahabharata cartoon series... Kids these days, know no one othr than Mc donalds..
swapna said…
i want to know about pogo live channel may be pay channel alo i want to pay because my children love pogo channel of india.thanks in advance.

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