#Throwback2020: Investing in better content is our asset

Viacom18’s Nina Elavia Jaipuria on kid’s genre, investing in IPs, generating ancillary revenue str

MUMBAI: Looking back at 2020 I can say it has not been one of the best years. But I believe that there is always a silver lining and a lot to learn from what has transpired in the last few months. We have stayed true to our promise of keeping our viewers entertained, even in a situation like this. We ensured that we were there for our viewers when they needed us the most. Even the most basic entertainment outlets like stepping out for a walk or coffee or running in a garden, or even going to school, which is of course a very big outlet for children because they get to meet their friends, were unavailable.

During this time, we adopted different strategies across different genres to make sure that our viewers get what they want.

How kids’ genre has performed

It was a very different scenario because kids have been deprived of friends and of school. But, from a kids’ category perspective, Nickelodeon was on the top of the charts all over again because we were ready for summer. Through the last ten months, we have actually been ready with new stories, new episodes, new movies and we also managed to launch our two new IP’s - Bhoot Bandhus and Ting Tong, which are doing fabulously well. In fact, Bhoot Bandhus has entered the top ten of the category.

The kids’ genre continued to chug along because it is animation content. With the huge library that we have, we continued to maintain our leadership – Nickelodeon continues to be the number one channel for the seventh consecutive year with almost a 17 per cent market share. And we are the leading franchise as well, with a 32 per cent market share, followed by Disney at 23 per cent and Turner at 21 per cent. We have continued the good work by bringing characters and stories that we never told before to kids and made sure we entertain responsibly.

In fact, the kids’ category continues to be higher than what it used to be in the pre-Covid2019 era. And I am assuming that it is because kids are still at home and are still looking for outlets beyond just online schooling. So, the trend observed is that the morning prime time from 10 am to 2 pm actually grew, and mini-movies and movies continue to engage children. The genre also saw a lot of co-viewing and family viewing because of the ‘one television phenomenon’ in India which continues to date.

Investments into the kids’ genre

We will continue to invest in fiction and non-fiction properties and we will continue to create many more hours of animation content in the kids’ space. Even in a year which has seen the lockdown, we are hoping to create a hundred hours of animation and take our library to a good 700 hours, which is by far the largest. Not only that, we will also continue to invest in dubbed content in eight languages. Nickelodeon and Sonic are the only channels that are available in eight languages. We will look at white spaces and continue to work on newer IPs for kids as well.

In fact, we already have two IPs  that are work in progress and one IP is very dear to us because it is our first co-production with Nickelodeon International, called Twisted Timelines of Sammy and Raj. We hope to launch this new IP in 2021. We will continue to invest in content because that is our asset. We will also try to ensure that we are able to sweat the assets as much as we can to enhance our ROI. This is working beautifully for us because now we are in the FTA space which gives us a good place to sweat the asset. On Voot Kids', all the Nickelodeon IPs are actually growing stronger and seven of the top ten shows on Voot Kids are the Nickelodeon IPs.

Generating revenue streams

We did see a very soft Q1 and Q2 because the economy had slowed down big time and now as the economy recovers and as unlock happens, we have had a great comeback in Q3. We saw a fabulous festive season, and might be able to slightly surpass Q3 of last year. A lot of advertisers have come back to us.

Ancillary revenue streams are here to stay and will only be more relevant in the years to come. Advertisers are looking at innovative ways of reaching out to their audiences and for me, brand integrations, product licensing, promo licensing and brand solutions and brand integrations are a win-win for all the stakeholders because the advertisers are able to convey the message to viewers in a very interesting and clutter-breaking manner. The viewer, also from a child’s perspective, sees the tool and gets very interested in that messaging. Also, there is a commercial benefit to be gained by the broadcaster.

There was a bit of a slowdown from a consumer products perspective because of the retail slow down. But I think as that opens up and as retail goes back to normal, we will see consumer products coming back. However, we have been having a steady flow of consumption on e-commerce platforms of Amazon and Flipkart particularly. It will come back in a way, but product licensing and promotion licensing are also here to stay because it's a win-win for all and all of that together will lead to robust monetisation.

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