Sony YAY! will get into co-production with OTT players: Leena Lele Dutta

Sony YAY! has been continuously offering wholesome and exciting content across genres for kids of all ages. The channel recently celebrated its 5th year milestone on a journey from being a young player to now leading the kids’ entertainment segment. Since its inception, the channel, currently leading at #1 in the segment, has strategically placed each piece of content, IP, game, or character to build an ecosystem that resonates with kids, thus transforming how kids view entertainment today across multiple touchpoints around the clock.

After the success of some of its most popular IPs and after witnessing the reception it has received through the years for its initiatives across markets, Sony YAY! is set to offer something more with the onset of the summer season. To mark its fifth-anniversary milestone, Sony YAY! is undertaking a new summer campaign with new launches spanning content, innovative marketing, strategic partnerships and growth beyond its TV offerings.

In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Leena Lele Dutta – EVP and Business Head, Sony YAY! speaks at length about the channel’s summer campaign, new offerings, their content strategy and much more.

Elaborating on the line-up and the new launches planned for summer, Dutta said, “We have everything new, innovative and refreshing planned out for this summer. What we are actually setting up to do this summer and that is going to set the narrative for going along, we have our tentpole characters, ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’ and ‘Obocchama-Kun’, we are going to get new seasons of Oggy, a new season for Obocchama, over and above that we have ‘Taarak Mehta ka Chotta Chashma’, which is going to come for the third season, but this time around we are offering a kids movie as well, along with the third season’s episode. It will be the first time ever where one will see Taarak in a longer format of almost 45 minutes and that is one of the things that will be a surprise element and as always every year we have launched our new IP. This season, we have a brand new show called ‘Hagola’. This will be based on three characters whose short forms are Ha-Go-La.”

Speaking about the plans ahead, she shared, “We are also extending our campaign to on-ground, which is our pan activation and our digital presence through our YouTube channels and our watch party that we do all the time. We also have a extensive ATL planned, wherein we will have Oggy and Obocchama ads on other channels to spread awareness of the new episodes coming on air. We are being very innovative in terms of packaging and selling our entire summer plan to the advertisers, so we look at a very 360 degree approach. So, when a brand comes for an association, we try to offer them other avenues and media of sponsorships – whether it is through activations on our on-ground initiatives, or a digital presence on YouTube channels or brand integration on any of our games that we are launching this summer. It is a very holistic approach, and we are the only platform that actually can lend a brand that kind of indepth solution, because the IPs are something that we own and we have the liberty of our characters endorsing the brands and things like that.”

When asked about the growth plans beyond TV offerings, Dutta said, “All along we have been talking about growth and expansions, but this time we have articulated it in three directions. One of the directions is keeping the kids at the center of the universe. We plan to entertain, we plan to have the kids to experience and explore. So, within entertainment, we talk about our new shows and our summer line-up and all the other shows that will come out during the rest of the year. We are also creating and extending new IPs, not only for our audience, but also for third party association and OTT platforms.”

She further said, “While our TV universe is restricted to the age group of 2-14 years, as per BARC, there are a whole lot of things that you can do with a 2-4 age group, a 6-8 age group or even a 12-14 age group, where the content pieces are very different and unique from each other and that's what we are planning to create content or stories for different age cards within the category of kids’ genre.”

Apart from putting the content on its YouTube channel, Sony YAY!’s entertainment growth strategy also includes getting into co-production with OTT players, as well as letting the kids to experience their IPs. In a bid to have a deeper understanding of what today’s kids are thinking, Sony YAY!’s insights and research teams constantly monitor the trends that are changing in the kids’ world. Dutta said, “This is for the first time that we have got out and we will be publishing a report called ‘Searchlight 2022’, which talks about these trends, the next big things for kids, as well as kids’ habits.”

Dutta further informed that Sony YAY! is also making inroads and is pivoting itself into being an expert in the kids’ space through ownership of the ‘Searchlight 2022’ research as well as creating content pieces which resonate with each and every demographic within the lifespan of the child.

Elaborating on the trends in terms of content consumption pattern in the kids’ entertainment space, she said, “If you look at the geographical split, there are urban kids and non-urban kids. The adaptation of technology and cord cutting for all kids has happened. Today, a kid knows where to go and searches for any answer on YouTube. YouTube has become a go to destination for kids today, to explore new content areas, to explore new pieces of content in the entertainment space, and also in the education space. Traditional TV has suffered because of that.”

At the same time, Dutta pointed out that traditional TV offers kids the comfort of switching on the TV and watching their favourite characters at any point of time, whenever they want. “Thus, TV is going to co-exist. The content which is put on TV has gone through a change in terms of what kids will want to watch today,” she added.

Dutta also pointed out that typically BARC currently only throws up data for the kids’ genre which is mostly skewed towards boys. “So, all of broadcasters and programmers are creating content keeping a boy protagonist in mind. What we have also learnt across these 2-3 years is that from a mindset point of view, there is no distinction in the mindsets of a boy and a girl at that age. The narratives have been changed for the kids who are becoming more bold and aware of their surroundings. Kids today are exposed to a lot more digital media than what we as kids were, or even the kids of 7-8 years back. Content choices are also changing and evolving.”

Talking about the advertisers onboarding this year, she mentioned, “In the first few months of the pandemic, we were poised as the No. 3 channel. When the pandemic struck, kids’ viewership went through the roof. We reinvented ourselves very quickly and came back with more shows with a very different programming acquisition model, where we got shows like ‘Oscar Ab Bas Kar’, we picked up ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches’, and we picked up ‘Obocchama-Kun’, that entire gamut of new shows and new characters brought a breath of fresh air to Sony YAY!. From October last year onwards, we’ve had a hockey stick kind of journey upward, where we have currently reached the No. 1 position.”


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