Our immediate focus is to keep pushing new content on existing channels: Abhishek Dutta

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In a conversation with exchange4media, Abhishek Dutta, South Asia Network Head, POGO and Cartoon Network, talks about the year 2020 and its recovery during festive period, and plans for 2021

The seven out of the top 10 shows in the kids’ entertainment genre are homegrown properties, Dutta believes that homegrown content will continue to unlock new and exciting growth opportunities for Cartoon Network and POGO.

Hence, the network launched three homegrown shows this year. The channel claims that the new show launches, ‘Titoo – Har Jawaab Ka Sawaal Hu’ and ‘Smashing Simmba’ on POGO, and ‘Bandbudh aur Budbak’ on Cartoon Network- homegrown animations received an overwhelming response from the audience.

As per the data provided by the network, overall, according to data revealed by BARC, the kids’ genre has seen a 29% growth in average weekly viewing minutes, growing from 11.3 million in the pre-COVID weeks to 14.6 million after the outbreak.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Abhishek Dutta, South Asia Network Head, POGO and Cartoon Network talks about the year 2020 been for the genre, recovery during festive period and plans for 2021

How has 2020 been for both Cartoon Network and Pogo in terms of both viewership and revenue?

This year for us has gone from strength to strength. Pogo, in fact, clocked one of the highest viewership hikes registered within the genre during the pandemic. According to YTD ratings by BARC, POGO has jumped to second ranking in the all India market. We have launched multiple shows on our platforms throughout the year which basically includes three homegrown properties and a brand new avatar of Tom and Jerry within Indian effect by adding commentary to the global franchise. The year has been really fantastic for us. Even Cartoon Network has seen the highest growth percentage in the entire category in comparison to last year. We have been able to capture a lot of new audiences as well. We have the third highest market share in the kids category and both our channels have been growing pretty strongly..

Coming to the impact on the ad sales, disruptions keep happening but we have seen some success with advertisers and witnessed signs of recovery picking up with the festive seasons and in fact, the audience sentiment is also helping the industry bounce back.

During the festive period, both our channels were completely full in terms of commercial inventory. We started recovering from August onwards, and ever since our inventory has been completely full.

How it has been on the subscription revenue front?

Subscription revenues have been pretty stable. During the pandemic period, the kids category actually saw a huge growth because most of the kids were at home in fact, the entire genre saw a 47% of growth. Definitely, it has been a good year.

How has the second half been for the category as compared to the first half? 

The initial lockdown period witnessed a drop in commercial inventory and this happened across genres across networks. But then as the festive season kicked in and lockdown started opening and people started going back to their daily routine, we saw a huge shift in that pattern and that is when basically our entire commercial inventory got completely blocked. We have seen a good recovery the second half of the year.

Have you seen any new categories or advertisers that have started spending Cartoon Network and Pogo? 

There have been some advertisers who are not primarily kids advertising brands, who have actually come on to the kids bandwagon on our channels.

Non-traditional categories/ brands that have picked up during COVID and festive season this year on our channels. Apart from the snacks / food and beverages , we also have multiple advertisers across  E-learning/ Edu, Tech platforms , Ecommerce , E-wallet, Personal care, Health & hygiene, Home care, Consumer durables and  Auto which have contributed to the festive period on our channels.

What are the advertisers’ sentiments towards kids’ genre post festive season? 

For the kids category, the festive period is still on. We are really hopeful that this will continue even in the next month because the viewership continues to be high on the channels as the kids are still at home. Usually there is a dull period in the normal situation, when schools are active, there is nothing new happening in the category. But this is a very different time that we are in. We are going to keep launching our new shows that are slated for 2021 as this trend is going to last a little longer.

What is going to be your focus areas for the coming months? 

Our immediate focus is to keep pushing new content on our existing channels, which is Pogo and Cartoon Network. We have already launched three local properties and apart from these three, we also launched Tom and Jerry with the Indian commentary. All these shows have been blockbuster hits for us within this year, we have more in the pipeline.The next show that we plan to launch is Lambu-G Tingu-G, a homegrown animation comedy produced by Cosmos Maya, next year. There is a lot more content lined up in the new year as well. So, for now, we will be focusing on growing our existing channels.

We will continue to introduce our fans to new shows as well as new seasons of existing favorite shows on both Cartoon Network and Pogo which will also include the new programs from Warner Brothers animation and Cartoon Network studios in the US. In addition, we will also both acquire and create our own unique and relatable, homegrown content that offers a local flavor through its authentic voice. We are on our way to consolidate a leadership position.

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Sonam Saini

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