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Nina Elavia Jaipuria on how Nickelodeon has charted out its success story

Nickelodeon has unveiled its aggressive content strategy for FY2019-20, comprising 200+ hours of original animated content, which will include shows as well as made-for-television movies. Last week, the kids’ entertainment franchise announced the launch of its 8th Indigenous IP – ‘Golmaal Jr.’ on Sonic. Produced by Nickelodeon and created by Reliance Animation and Rohit Shetty Picturez, ‘Golmaal Jr.’ went on air on May 13 at 1.30 pm. 

Nickelodeon has been at the forefront of engaging kids through bringing to life iconic characters like Motu Patlu, Shiva and Rudra, amongst others. With over 500 hours of content, the franchise today has the largest, immersive and the most versatile local content library in the category. 

Speaking about the success of the home-grown characters, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head – Hindi Mass Entertainment and the Kids TV Network at Viacom18, said, “Understanding of kids, their choices and their diverse entertainment needs has been central to Nickelodeon. We have hence, always introduced characters that are relatable, engaging and clutter breaking. The new show, ‘Golmaal Jr.’, is set to bring further diversity and scale to the wide content library of Nickelodeon.” 

She further added, “Going forward, we will continue to enthrall kids with great stories and characters and maximise ROI so that we can introduce kids to more such immersive and engaging content experiences.” 

Television remains a major part of the marketing mix as Viacom18 network’s channels help the franchise penetrate across regions. Other than that, mall activations, radio, standees, photo booths, are also being used. Nickelodeon plans to do activations in Tier 2 markets as well. 

The growth story 

Presenting the growth story of the Nickelodeon franchise, Jaipuria said, “Nickelodeon Sonic is the leader in revenue and Viewership. Animation is a costly and expensive investment to make, we have doubly made sure that we maximise and enhance our topline, which enhances our bottom line. Year on Year, we have seen a 14 per cent increase in topline and advertising, even in a year where due to various factors the economy had slowed down. We are one of the most profitable businesses for Viacom18. More importantly, when we better our ROI what it enables us to do is to plough back this investment for greater content and that is why over a period of 8 years we have been able to create so much of content, which is being viewed and loved by the viewers and this makes us the No. 1 channel.” 

Jaipuria further claimed that Nickelodeon is one of the few players in the market where the revenue share is higher than the market share. “This gives us a power ratio of 1+ – a very happy place to be in as you can have a lot of revenue. This works well from an advertising perspective as well, we have always worked around our advertisers to make sure that we value add to them, not just vanilla spots of 30 seconds, but have actually gone into product integration and some passive/ active integration. We have also got into product licensing and merchandising. We have a few happy sponsors for our school contact programs which we do every year,” she added. 

Jaipuria pointed out that Nickelodeon as a franchise reaches out to 44 million children, which gives advertisers a large audience base. 

What kids want? 

The kids segment is a very difficult segment to cater to as kids exit out of phases very quickly. Hence, as a broadcaster for kids it is extremely important to make sure that they are catering to their overall entertainment needs. From that perspective, Nickelodeon has done a lot of research, including a global research in partnership with Viacom Worldwide. Jaipuria informed that the research threw up words like ‘Independent’, ‘Confident’, ‘Restless’, ‘Performers’, and ‘Fashionable’. “These were not words used for children especially in India, as children here were described as ‘Demure’, ‘Quiet’, etc., they were satisfied with what they had. But with the new words, a lot of our content now is playing out to some of these requirements,” she said, adding, “These researches and focus groups are very enlightening and there is a lot to learn from the kids.” 

Nickelodeon is progressing as it tells its stories and making sure that the franchise takes care of the environment, for which the content team continuously researches and makes sure that they are talking to the children to know what their mindset is, their likes and dislikes, their preferences and so on. 

Speaking about an India centric research which Nickelodeon did to gauge the emerging trends and what the kids are saying and actually watching, Jaipuria said that pester power and kids’ involvement in decision making in the house have increased, which is also reflected in the franchise’s revenues. “We see a 50-50 mix of advertisers in the kids’ genre – one group consisting of kids-centric products such as biscuits, toys, etc., and the other which is targeted at their parents such as auto, insurance, banks, FMCG, consumer durables, etc. The channel also sees a viewership trend which is 22-40, presumably young parents,” Jaipuria said. 

Continuing further, she added, “9 out of 10 kids want to watch animation, as it is only animation which transports the child to this imaginary, fictional world which gets rid of their stress/ homework and exams. So, animation is here to stay. This is one of the reasons that the time spent by kids on television has gone up from 1 hour 4 minutes last year to 1 hour 12 minutes this year despite all the fragmentation from GEC/ OTT players.” 

Another crucial learning from the research has been how friends have become even more crucial for kids. Jaipuria observed, “It is very peculiar, it’s not just about fun/ masti and pranks, but also being their support system, replacing family and siblings. ‘Golmaal Jr.’ aptly fits into that space, the whole concept of the show is about friends and how the friends tackle issues.” 

Creating a strong base of IPs 

Over the years, Nickelodeon has created some strong local home-grown Nicktoons – ‘Pakdam Pakdai’, India’s first chase comedy; ‘Motu Patlu’ – the only adult protagonist in the kids’ animation category; ‘Shiva’, India’s whiz kid; ‘Gattu Battu’, India’s first animated detective series; ‘Rudra Boom Chik Chik Boom’, India’s first Magictoon – which have all introduced kids to new genres of entertainment. 

Jaipuria explained, “Our strategy has always been very focused and we at Nickelodeon have identified white spaces and the need gaps in the genre. Thus, we we have heartline comedy, chase, gizmo kid, detectives and finally the Prince of Magic. We have clearly chartered out spaces in the white space.” 

She added that it was not just about the width and the number of IPs that the franchise had, but it was also about the depth. “Over the years we have built a library of 500+ hours of content, last summer we spoke about adding 150 hours more and the team has delivered. These 500+ hours have also worked across formats, we have 22 minutes/ 11 minutes/ 5 minutes and 90 second formats. Added to this are the television movies – we make 12 movies in a year. The duration of these movies are anywhere between 70 and 90 minutes for a big movie and 45-50 minutes for the mini movies.” 

“We are experimenting with formats, durations, genres and creating a very holistic library, which is helping us to achieve the No. 1 status in the kids’ genre. This library also helps us monetise our contents, and our flagship shows have been syndicated internationally,” Jaipuria further said. 

The movie insight has always been that in the shows, the characters are seen in a certain environment, but in the telemovies, the very same characters are in different environments – for example, ‘Motu Patlu in a Deep Sea Adventure or in the Himalayas doing Kung Fu, present very different backgrounds, with a different story, several new characters and a tight story told in 70-90 minutes. “This is what is attracting children and every time we premiere a movie, it reaches No. 1. The limitation is that we can’t make so many in a year, if we could afford it, we would have made many more. If you look at the ratings of our movies, they give us 15 per cent,” informed Jaipuria. 

The digital push 

The kids content that Nickelodeon is creating as a franchise is working across the network as they have become screen agnostic. It’s not only being on broadcast, but even on Voot the top 10 shows in the category are from Nick. “Voot also has a lot of our competition as well on their platform, but Nickelodeon is lapped up by the kids there as well. We are also loved on the other GEC channels on our network as well; Rishtey runs a kids’ slot in the morning which is well received,” she claimed. 

“Instead of eating into our television viewing, Voot actually supplements it as it helps grow the affinity towards the characters and gives it the ability to watch a character anytime of the day and the popularity grows,” Jaipuria affirmed. 

Nailing the vernacular game 

According to Jaipuria, everything has made a difference. Nickelodeon now has shows in Hindi as well as the four South Indian languages. It is now contemplating to introduce kids’ content in Marathi. 

She elucidated, “Language makes a huge difference as it makes kids’ heroes closer to their hearts. Three things have worked for our shows – first is our characters, second is the storytelling and the third is the quality of the animation. These three put together are creating a destination for kids; moreover, the local content is liked by the children as well.” 

Kids’ genre in TRAI’s new tariff regime 

While Jaipuria said that it was a little difficult to comment on how TRAI’s new tariff regime had impacted the kids’ genre, she added that “pester power” had worked really well. “Kids have told us that for a short time they didn’t get to see their favourite channel, but later parents had to relent and added the channel to their regular pack. From the ratings point of view, we remain the No. 1. This shows that pester power and the customer pull for a particular character translates into success for the channel,” she concluded.

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