The rise of digital consumption in the children’s genre does not erode television audiences: Leena Lele Dutta

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Dutta, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of the children’s channel — Sony Yay! at Sony Pictures Networks India, talks about the channel’s five-year journey, growth plans and more

Sony YAY!, which is the first children’s channel of Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI), recently completed five years in the industry. The channel was one of the latest entrants in this category. Launched in 2018, the channel is now leading the genre for children and is set to launch its new IP Ha.Go.La in June this year. In conversation with exchange4media, Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, Sony Pictures Networks India, Kids’ Genre talks about plans to expand the category’s footprint, new summers show lineups and the five-year journey chain.

Asked about the channel’s journey, Dutta expressed his excitement for the channel’s growth over the period, despite being the newest entrant in the children’s category. “In the first couple of years, we went around the proposition of giving kids what they wanted to watch, which the rest of the channel lacked – 100% indigenous, characters, regional language dubs, and all those The first couple of years, in our opinion, were formative years because we were introducing IP addresses that stuck and fell.

The COVID pandemic disrupted our lives to a large degree at a time when the channel was in the top three rankings in the kids category, Dutta said. “That’s when the TV audience for children and adults went completely haywire. For the first two or three months we had to completely change our strategy because we had to keep our audience glued to us with new characters and new shows on our channel Honey Bunny’s main audience stayed with us but the other guys moved on to other channels and researched their audience needs from other channels , not just kids shows. That’s when the channel launched Tarak Mehta Ka Chotta Chashma which did very well,” she said.

“What we’ve learned from this five-year journey is that we’ve never been complacent, going from number seven to number eight in the category and then to number three. Over the past 13 weeks, we’ve held the number one spot, so that was very organic growth,” Dutta added.

In an effort to put entertainment at the forefront of its summer offering, Sony YAY! brings new episodes of the iconic shows – Oggy and the Cockroaches and Obachhama – Kun. Moreover, the channel is also launching two first movies of the show – Taarak Mehta Ka Chhota Chashmah added with new episodes of the popular show. In June, Sony YAY! is about to amp up the fun, adventure and friendship, with another brand new Ha.Go.La show featuring the adventures of three friends Hathgola, Goli and Latha.

Asked about the children’s category shift from TV to digital, Dutta said that children have definitely gone digital and their digital consumption has increased significantly. However, this does not erode television viewership. “TV viewership returned to pre-COVID -550 GRP levels. In the first year of COVID it had increased and when the lockdown was lifted in the second year the 700 GRP levels dropped to 600 -625 and are now back in the normal 550 range. So hockey stick digital viewership or kids time on digital was definitely a boon for YouTube channels, but not necessarily in terms of Entertainment. “

According to Dutta, the total television audience for the children’s category has not decreased. However, it has had to shrink in reach as kids have now gone digital. “It has a lot to do with the whole universe and the NTO era, when people could choose their own channels. When we started, the kids category reached almost 57% of all TV households. the children’s category reaches 51% of all TV households, while the time spent by children in this category has increased by 30%, so despite the fact that the absolute reach has decreased, children are spending more time on the television channels than they had five years ago.

When asked if there is any evidence that declining reach has impacted ad revenue in the kids category? Dutta said advertising revenue in the children’s category has increased due to the emergence of new categories such as EduTech. “Of course, FMCG accounts for a large portion of inventory consumption on kids’ channels, as mothers serve as babysitters, advising their children on which channels to watch,” she said.

Regarding the growth drivers of the children’s category, Dutta shared that in most urban parts of India, there have already been cuts of the cord. “Kids already use TV as a device, they may not watch linear TV or linear TV channels, but they use TV like any other device, like they have iPads and iPhones” , added Dutta.

“For kids who are changing the paradigm, whether it’s more TV-related advertising or more digital-related advertising, it’s only a matter of time. Today, YouTube constitutes a massive amount of kid eyeballs landing on their platform. You are not supposed to target children in the digital world, this is a place where targeting is not allowed. As a result, YouTube had to pay heavy fines internationally.

Dutta asserted that digital spending on children over the next few years will continue to be dominated by television. “There could be hybrid models of AVOD and SVOD, where SVOD for kids will only be offered with a differentiated premium product. And that’s where gaming could be. We all know for a fact that between 100% of what the mother and father earn in a month, 30-40% of the expenses go to their children, whether through education or any other means.In addition, these industries will need “a platform to reach children in the future, because children are going to be cord cutters. So, in the near future, there is a definite need and demand to operate parallel ecosystems. The relay of linear tv can change there could be a possibility if the pay tv audience migrates to digital platforms then there could be a game for the free tv kids channels this is an interesting time in which we live here, especially for children, because we are not I never focused on children and never gave them the importance and relevance they should deserve.

On the Sony YAY! contribution to the global network, Dutta shared that Sony YAY! is a single-channel game, unlike the rest of the category players and networks in this space which have two to three channels. “Our whole effort is to go all out on inventory levels and enjoy the revenue that comes from that. We are completely sold out at all times and our FCT and inventory levels are the highest in the category,” Dutta said.

Additionally, on expansion plans, Dutta mentioned that the network plans to launch TV channels in the category. “When we launched Sony YAY!, we knew that anything we had to do in this category had to be different. We are therefore thinking about it, nothing is finalized for the moment. If we launch, we will launch completely with a differentiated product. The timing is still a question mark.

On the other revenue model, the channel is actively pursuing an AR gaming piece, i.e. casual games of the channels’ IP addresses and characters. Dutta said, “We’ll be adding brand solutions to our advertisers, so if they want their brands incorporated into games, they can. Along with that we have our YouTube Play, where we bring a lot of new shows to our YouTube platform, not necessarily in the animation space. We are building that in these few months.”

Speaking of expansion plans, Dutta said, “We have our licensing and content syndication agreements with our partners including Netflix and Amazon Prime. We are also looking to develop new IPs and produce them internally, which will be for OTT platforms and of course not to miss our licenses, our merchandising, it is also a great source of income, where we review licensing products for all IPs and characters. » .

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