There’s no rural or urban divide in kids’ entertainment: NP Singh

Sony YAY!, the new kids’ channel from Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) will go live from April 18, 2018 with four original, locally produced, animated shows, a first for any channel in this genre. Each show will explore a different genre in comedy and guarantees uniqueness in terms of its characterisation and narrative. 

Tiger Shroff has been roped in as brand ambassador for Sony YAY!. The campaign for the new channel is slated to commence soon. JWT has been appointed the creative AoR for Sony YAY!, while OMD is the media agency on board. 

Sony YAY! will be available in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages across direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable platforms. The channel will be promoted extensively across various channels of Sony Pictures Networks, DTH platforms, coupled with print, a robust digital and social media presence to engage with the young audience at different touch points. 

Speaking about the channel launch, NP Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), said, “It goes without saying that the Indian television industry is at an interesting crossroad, with the kids genre being a front runner in demanding innovation and freshness. Our kid’s channel, Sony YAY!, with its original programming will excite and engage the young audiences and leave a lasting impact on their hearts and minds. With the launch of Sony YAY!, the network now offers tailor-made propositions for every member of the family.” 

Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, Sony YAY! Added here, We are excited to launch Sony YAY! and be the platform that provides children with original Indian content that they can relate to and identify with. We couldn’t be happier to have Tiger Shroff on-board to support our vision of spreading happiness amongst our young audiences through content that is truly sensitized to their needs. Tiger Shroff is all heart and fun, making him the perfect fit for our brand. We are certain that kids will find an instant connect with our shows and the channels proposition of non-stop fun, non-stop MazzYAY!” 

On his association with the channel, Tiger Shroff said, “I am humbled and forever grateful that my young fans shower me with so much love and this is my small attempt to reciprocate the same. My association with Sony YAY! aims to bring happiness to all the young ones across the country. I am sure that they will enjoy watching Sony YAY! as much as they enjoy watching my movies. Wishing them non-stop fun and happiness.” 

Adgully spoke with NP Singh and Leena Lele Dutta to more about the plans for Sony YAY!, the content strategy, marketing push, focus on local content, the kids’ genre in India and much more. Excerpts: 

What kind of potential do you see in the kids genre in India? Do you think the kids genre undervalued in India?
NP Singh: From an ad-sales perspective, the kid’s genre is about Rs 500 crore and growing. Last year we saw a reset of pricing on the genre with a 20 per cent growth, but now it is Rs 3,000 crore-Rs 3,500 crore and growing. It has been undervalued and underlined, but we saw a correction in 2016 and more will happen going forward. Kids are playing an active role in decision making at home on what to buy and consume. They are more tech savvy and know what their parents and friends are buying and hence, the genre will grow further. 

Being a late entrant in the genre, what are the challenges faced in creating differentiation for Sony YAY?
Leena Lele Dutta: We had a lot of challenges, but we have overcome all of them such as – getting our bank of quality animation for our shows. I don’t see any other channel with such large localised content. 

How are planning to take on your competition?
Leena Lele Dutta: Our biggest advantage is that we don’t have a pedigree of kids international channel. We wanted to get earthy by creating our own characters and not being dependent outside of India to appeal to others’ sensibilities of characters. We have made a conscious decision that whatever we do will be localized, because localised characters take the least time to create affinity with kids. It is character affinity which gets the kids to connect the fastest and what better way to serve them than with local characters and talk to them in their own language? Kids love stories to be told in their way and form. ‘Guru Bhole’, which is our first musical comedy, is comedy which is an instant genre that they relate to; nobody has come up with the concept of laugh out loud ghost comedy locally as we have in ‘Paap-o-meter’. 

What would be the content strategy for Sony YAY? Please tell us about plans for home-grown content.
NP Singh:One distinctive feature for Sony YAY is that it is the only channel with original and local produced content. We have 4 new shows currently and by October will have 3 more and it will be 100 per cent original. Right now, you will still find some foreign licensed content dubbed in Tamil, Telugu and Bangla, but prominently in the next 6 months it will be all original content produced in India. 

Our research gave us the answer to what kids really want to see on television and what characters they like. They like more earthy and localised characters and that inspired us to launch original content. We have been getting into a lot of categories and genres which were cluttered – whether it was music, where we became leader, or infotainment with BBC Earth. The official initial ratings for BBC Earth are not out yet, but from what I see, it looks very encouraging and I have no reason to believe otherwise for Sony YAY as well. Since we don’t have animation capabilities in-house yet, a lot of content was developed by Leena and her team and we have outsourced for animation. 

What is the scope of Anime and Live action series in India?
Leena Lele Dutta: Anime has been very successful in south Asian markets, but not very successful in India. We have had anime since 1999, but since that content appeals more to teenagers and young adults, we have decided to make that content available on Sony Liv rather than having it on a separate channel. For live action, there is already a lot of content that appeals to the kids on our network and we would like them to be there, but if we come across the concept that is in line with our strategy, we will consider it, but for now it is all animated content. 

Is the kidsgenre becoming more character-led than content-led – with more of animated characters than shows with live characters?
Leena Lele Dutta: It is character and content led and they both go hand in hand. Strong character with a weak storytelling will not work and a strong character with an average or weak story will fail as well. 

What are your views on being content sensitive?
NP Singh: We are a very responsible broadcaster and we have had kids on our platform for a very long time and we will be very sensitive about these issues. We will be careful about language and physicality. There will be no remarks on anyone and we will be extra sensitive. Our objective is to impart good values to kids and not be just another kids’ channel. 

What will be the distribution strategy when the channel goes on air? What is your library of content?
NP Singh: You will see it pan India across all platforms, which comprises all major DTH and cable networks. 

Leena Lele Dutta: Because we creating our own content for the new kids’ channel, we plan to have at least 52 episodes of 22 minutes each by the end of first year for our 4 shows. When we come up with our next shows in October, they will be additional 52 episodes. 

What would be the key focus areas in your marketing plan for the new channel?
NP Singh: We are producing local content which will be from India, of India and will appeal to children across all geographies. In kids’ entertainment, there is no rural or urban divide. Kids all over like action, comedy and entertainment. 

Leena Lele Dutta: We have Tiger Shroff as a brand ambassador and we will leverage him for all our outdoor, print and television promos but apart from that, we will go deep down in metros and mini metros. We have a 4-state plan covering 80 cities for brand integration, ensuring YAY as a brand, as a sentiment and an emotion is seeded across the length and breadth of the country. For the next two months, we are very heavy and invested in ensuring that we create the channel’s visibility. 

Our target audience is in the age group of 2 to14 years, but our content will be specially for 6-8 years old and kids love Tiger Shroff. He loves kids a lot and he appeals to them because of his sheer energy – he is a dancing hero, an action hero and has an intense energy around him.


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