Spotlight on - Children’s media
Technology, over the last few years, has been slowly and steadily revolutionizing how media content is distributed and consumed. The pandemic gave this an unexpected and much needed fillip, especially viewership among young adults and children. Although television remains the preferred medium for kids, there has been a significant increase in online engagement, and the age at which an average child is exposed to technology has been steadily dropping. In 2018 alone, over 40% (approx. 62 million) of the total new internet users were kids.
To meet the demand of this growing young audience, Indian broadcasters are adopting new strategies, launching new shows, moving their content to digital platforms, and forming strategic partnerships. For instance, instead of just licensing international content, domestic broadcasters have directed their energies to commission original animated shows and build their content libraries. The Viacom 18 network channel Nickelodeon launched Golmaal Jr., an animated show based on Bollywood comedy franchise Golmaal, in association with Reliance Animation and Rohit Shetty Picturez. Disney Channel launched two original IPs Oye Golu and Bhagam Bhag, to strengthen its network's local animation content. Evidently, the kids’ viewership is also driving the growth in ad spends in these channels. In 2019, the television industry reported a 6.4% growth in advertising revenue to reach INR 32,000 crore and of this, kids’ channels alone accounted for 5 percent that is INR 1,600 crore of the ad volume.
Kids OTT genre led to higher investments in the animation industry, proving that animation remains the first love for Indian kids. In 2019, the Indian animation industry grew 18.5% reaching revenues of INR 22.3 bn. Youtube Kids and OTT platforms have popularized local animated characters such as Motu Patlu, Shiva, Rudra, and Gattu Battu. Their highly relatable or inspirational character traits show how localized characters can help in building storylines and develop better connections with audiences.
Indian companies are also bullish about the international market. They are aggressively pushing Indian content to global geographies with original IPs. Shows such as Mighty Little Bheem, the spin-off of Indian studio Green Gold Animation’s popular show Chhota Bheem became Netflix’s second most-watched original series. It garnered major viewership outside India from countries like Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and the US. Cosmos-Maya, one of the leading Indian animation studios, plans to develop and market global content for Indian kids with local settings, names, and characters through a distribution arm, WowKidz.
The entertainment space is also witnessing convergence with education, and technology is helping push the boundaries of doing business in the industry. Viacom18’s launch of VOOT Kids also highlights the scope for edutainment as an amalgamation of entertainment and learning within the larger kids’ content market. Indian startups have also risen to the occasion and have created edutainment platforms for kids across all age groups. Mumbai-based Ontamo Entertainment, which is dedicated to producing original, monetizable intellectual properties for all age groups across multiple channels, developed a premier product called Ria Rabbit.
As kids are becoming a larger part of the audience and one of the fastest growing online audience, several media houses are taking giant strides to capture this opportunity. It will be interesting to watch what the coming decade holds for them.