Maharashtra, UP, South contribute to 50% of kids’ viewership: Leena Lele Dutta

Sony YAY!, the kids’ channel from Sony Pictures Networks, India, celebrated its first anniversary last week. The channel is celebrating this occasion with a slew of new home grown content as well as adding two new language options – Bengali and Malayalam, becoming the only kids channel in India with 5 languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam. 

Intending to be a part of not only kids’ entertainment, but also a part of their everyday lives, Sony YAY! has entered into a licensing and merchandising in association with Black White Orange (BWO), India’s leading licensing, merchandising and brand agency. From toys to stationery, from apparel to bath and laundry, the channel aims to bring alive its endearing characters and make them a part of kids’ lives wherever they are. 

Sony YAY! claims to have moved from a zero viewer base to 15 million kids weekly and 24 million kids per month. The channel plans to further extend its viewer base through a comprehensive summer campaign that reaches out to over 25 million kids across the country through an extensive TV plan, coupled with on-ground activations like 84 cities canter, mall activations, and various other associations. 

Speaking on the occasion, Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, SPN Kids Genre, remarked, “Right from inception, our effort continues to be centered on adding happiness, entertainment and interactivity in kids’ lives through all our initiatives and we are overwhelmed with all the response. Kids are the heart of everything we do. Sony YAY! has characterised itself by being close to children, and creating worlds and stories with them through endearing characters, be it on-air or on-ground. Through this exercise, kids have built a bond with our characters and have come to love Guru and his singing, Bhole and his antiques, Popat and his wit and so on.” 

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Speaking to Adgully, Leena Lele Dutta sheds more light on Sony YAY's one-year journey, developing homegrown content, marketing strategies, the kids' genre in India and more. Excerpts:  

What have been the high points of this one-year journey on Sony YAY?
The first high point of this whole journey has been the array of these local characters that have been really successful. Introducing regional language feeds has been another high point. If you look at the ratings, in Chennai we are second or third in the ranking and that’s only because of the Tamil feed and the large CNS market as well. West Bengal has also been an outlier and so we have also extended our audio feed for it. Our entire ecosystem in terms of us being there and in terms of our touch points with the kids is something that we want to explore. But again, in terms of content, our original characters are our biggest high point, which gives us ownership of IP. 

What is Sony YAY’s marketing strategy for 2018?
If you look at how SonyYAY as a brand has been established and what we now have to kind of hit on now are our characters, In the first year itself ‘Guru & Bhole’, especially Bhole, and ‘Honey & Bunny’ have been extremely popular. They will be the fulcrum of our entire communication and whatever marketing that we do will rotate around ‘Honey & Bunny’ and ‘Guru & Bhole’ and now with ‘KickO and Super Speedo’ coming on board, it is going to be a different play all together. 

We have done well in terms of pushing the brand, and now we need to go out and market our characters and make sure that they connect with the kids. We have already done a lot for ‘Honey & Bunny’ and ‘Guru & Bhole’ and now we turn our attention to our newest offering, KickO. We are also going in for merchandising opportunities and I am very confident about our strategies. 

How do you view the growth of the kids’ genre in India?
If you look at it from a holistic view, including TV, kids are today the biggest influencers in any family. They decide everything – from which restaurant they want to go out to on weekends to the colour of the clothes which changes every week and so on. Thus, they have good power and influence in making decisions these days. The biggest piece of information that I came across was that when the household budget is deployed, more than 40 per cent is spent on kids – be it on their education, healthcare, etc. The centre point of the family today is the child and all that goes into nurturing him/her. Therefore, if you look at the market itself, it’s huge. 

Where we come into play is the content, the characters and how they stick onto these kids and what they want to do with it. But you still can’t move them away from deciding the colour of the paint, the car or new phones. 

As per BARC data, which are the markets that see a high number of viewership in the kids’ genre?
In terms of seasonality, we have seen a spurt in the summer season and the markets where we will see high consumption will be the ones which have vacations at that point of time. The whole of North will see a huge spurt in consumption in the latter half of the summer – starting in May and going up to June-end, while the entire West and South will see a huge spurt starting now to the end of May or first week of June. Different markets will behave differently as and when their vacation period is on, but consistently if you look at the 365-day viewership in the kids category, Maharashtra is, in fact, the most important market for kids, followed by Uttar Pradesh and the South. These three together combined contribute to almost 50 per cent of the viewership. 

What differentiates Sony YAY from other kids’ entertainment channels?
The entire brand is completely different from the rest. The biggest differentiator is our language feeds and our IPs that we have and control from start to end in terms of distribution rights or leveraging the IP and characters for different revenue streams and our enduring characters which are so distinct. Every show that we have is unique in itself, with first-of-its-kind ideas. 

How are you leveraging digital?
We have SonyLIV, which is an in-house digital player. We do not have a strategy yet, but we are on the verge of ideating and strategising on what we want to do independently on this with SonyLIV. For now, our promos and contests and many more things are on SonyLIV, but we know that there is a lot of viewership that is coming from younger and preschool content such as nursery rhymes and educational stuff, so it is not pure play entertainment but it is edutainment which is getting all these subscribers on the digital platform. We are currently in the process of devising where we want to land with SonyLIV. 

Going forward, what are your goals and vision for Sony YAY?
Our goal is to continuously remain wanted by our kids and our TG, our characters to be liked, loved and consumed and of course, continue to be the destination of happiness, whether it is on air, on ground or other activations that we end up doing. Staying committed and staying true to the core and happiness of kids.

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