Back in 1995, when Turner International came to India with Cartoon Network, it took four years for Nick, the next channel in line to come up. Content for kids is a tricky market to tap but many have done it pretty successfully. Today, we have approximately 18 channels meant for kids across different languages in India. Catering to 7.3% viewership, these channels make up a 3% of the total available channels in India. But the genre also comes with its own set of issues that are forcing a decline in the traditional ways of looking at the dissemination of content for kids. This blog, with the help of many articles, takes a look at 5 of the most important reasons/aspects that are contributing to the decline.
Advertising revenues, a traditional problem to cope up with
Kids channels often have a very niche audience that is controlled by their caretakers. Although kids can fuss over and make their guardians buy a product, they can still be denied as they don’t hold decision-making powers. This is one of the reasons, kids channels and shows find it difficult to get advertisers. Another issue is junk advertising as a lot of FMCG products, especially eatables that fall under the category of ‘junk’ are the ones who wish to tap this market. This has also resulted in non-kids advertisements being broadcasted on kids channels, as most households, even today tend to have a single tv screen. The e-commerce and auto (non-kids ads) contribute approximately about 45-65% to the ad inventory of kids channels.
Local made content preferred, but expensive to generate
The cost of importing an international show is less than producing a local show, especially when it comes to kids genre. The reason for this disparity is that not all studios are equipped enough to make such shows and compete with the ones made abroad and also they lack the capital required to produce these shows. It can take lakhs to produce just one episode of a show. However, it has been seen that locally made content is more relatable for the kids. When tapping an audience outside the metros, locally made content is preferred as the audience seem more inclined towards consuming content and characters that are based on familiar elements, dialects, and lifestyle. In 2015, locally made content was the third-largest contributor for kids channels, seeing an increase of 3% from 2014, the figures standing at 16% in 2015 and 13% in 2014.
Burst in availability of options for specific demographics
When kids channels started out in the country, there were specific options but not as many as there are now. Today we have many regional options as well with Sun TV having channels for kids in four South Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada) and major players like Disney, Hungama, Cartoon Network and POGO having audio feeds in regional languages. Also, with channels like Nick Jr and Disney Jr for preschool kids, Hungama and POGO for slightly older kids, and ZeeQ catering to 10-16-year-olds with an inclination towards science, the channels have an extremely niche audience, which is not giving them the kind of advertising revenues that can be gained from niche entertainment and educational shows for adults.
Digital platforms pushing their way through to kids
Mobile applications like YouTube Kids (free), Hopster (paid subscription), Netflix’s Kids menu (paid subscription) are leading the way for digital content meant for kids. They come with children friendly advertisements, which have their own set of criticism like monitoring the viewing patterns of the kids to generate data out of it and the blurring lines between entertainment and advertising. However, the benefit of introducing kids to global content is a heavy advantage over privacy issues that pull the parents towards the option. These videos are easy, educational and entertaining and give the power of restricting the kid from watching unfavourable content to the parent. It is said that the kid’s genre is the most digitally adaptable segment and is indeed seen to be true with applications like Blippar coming into the picture. Today, major kids channels are partnering with applications to increase their viewer base. Recently, Viacom18’s VOOT partnered with Turner India (that runs channels like Cartoon Network and POGO) to get content for VOOT’s kid’s section. However, such a partnership can be harmful to the revenue generated by the company’s traditional tv channel pattern. In 2013, Cartoon Network’s linear TV deliveries had reportedly dropped by a 10% in the months after it made its content available on Netflix. Although the figure is disputable, the channel agreed that they suffered a 3% decline. And while one can say that the channel can make up for it from the revenue generated on the digital medium, it sure is a loss for the TV world.
Children outgrow things a lot faster than other age groups
While kids don’t seem to be attached to the same toy for a long time, it is weird to note that certain characters seep in so deep that their memories are cherished even in adulthood. However, on the other hand, children tend to outgrow things very quickly. There is absolutely no guarantee that the next generation will like the same cartoons as the current one. This can be inferred in a way to reflect how these shows have a smaller shelf life, which has to be exploited to the hilt. And it is exploited a lot, depending on the success of the show or the character in question with the help of tie-ups and merchandising. However, despite the benefits, this may work as a major set back, at least in the initial run of the show because of the risk factor involved.