The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cartoon goes Potter to win back the kids
- Will Harry's spell work'

Mumbai, April 24: What do children really watch' Channels meant for adults: Hindi entertainment channels, saas-bahus, films, MTV and Channel V.

But since children under 15 are an estimated 30 per cent of India's population and a tantalising potential market, children's channels are desperate to wean this vast viewership invested with pester power from the adult operators. But in the process are they looking a bit like the adult channels themselves'

According to the latest figures from TAM, the television rating and research agency, the 4-14 age group constitutes 20 per cent to 22 per cent of viewership of mass Hindi entertainment channels. 'The same age group constitutes 17 per cent to 20 per cent viewership of music channels of all kinds,' says Siddhartha Mukherjee, head, corporate communications, TAM.

While adults also comprise a sizeable section of the viewership of children's channels ' almost 21 per cent of viewership of children's channels comes from the 35-plus age group, says Mukherjee ' there is a wide gap between the current sizes of the adult and children's markets. A TVR of 1+ is considered excellent for a children's channel programme, but the highest-rated soaps regularly clock in a TVR of 10+.

But things may not remain the same for very long, if the channels are to be believed. Cartoon Network triumphantly parades figures that claim recovery of a substantial number of children from the clutches of non-kids channels.

'Children's viewership of channels not meant for children has decreased by 11 per cent in the past one year,' says Ian Diamond, senior vice-president and general manager of Turner Entertainment Networks Asia.

But is it because more than ever children are getting the same things out of their 'own' channels as out of mass Hindi entertainment channels'

On most children's channels ' though Nickelodeon India business and operations head Pradeep Hejmai says special care is taken on his channel to make the programmes 'non-violent and safe' ' the mix seems to be the same as general entertainment channels. Animation, yes, but also movies, masti, magic and cricket. And Hindi.

Launching its programming for the summer holiday season on Wednesday, Cartoon Network called it the May Movie Magic, with Harry Potter as its cornerstone. The word masti was also bandied about.

Hungama TV, the first, though distant runner-up in children's channel share (7.9 per cent in metros), spells it out. 'The strategy is animation plus live action plus movies,' says Zarina Mehta, programme head. The channel is revamping its programming and is stressing on live action dailies that will ensure 'stickiness and loyalty'. She adds localisation is the key. Sounds familiar'

Hungama TV that has a popular live action cricket show, Full Toss, has also lined up a number of movies for children, including Dil Chahta Hai.

Advertisers are doing their bit, too. Buoyed by the increased numbers of children's channels, 'non-traditional' advertisers have increased significantly on kid's channels.

'According to international market research firm Synovat, in a survey on India, 42 per cent respondents said their choice of car was influenced by children,' says Mehta. It reflects in the ads being aired.

She insists that children are different, they always want the good to win over evil, and they like comedy, but Hungama TV's client base has D'Damas, ICICI Pru Life, Asian Paints and HPCL. Cartoon Network includes Daewoo, Maruti, HPCL, Pantene and Bajaj motorbikes as its advertisers. Nickelodeon says Cadbury's and Lever have significantly increased their ad spends on the channel.

Mukherjee says children watching programmes not meant primarily for them ' soaps or films ' is driven by single-TV households and the practice of family viewing.

But if the same things drive children and adults alike on different channels, which is which' And Harry Potter was accused of having more adult readers than children anyway.

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