EXCLUSIVE | Leena Lele Dutta, Sony Pictures Networks India: And the show went on… [Year-Ender 2020]

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Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, Sony Pictures Networks India, Kids’ Genre, is an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the Indian media and entertainment space. Dutta has been instrumental in creating and growing new businesses within Sony Pictures’ portfolio including the content distribution division – Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and leading the Kids business for Sony Pictures Networks.

In this exclusive piece, Dutta writes about how in 2020 Sony YAY! took the baton to tide through the year, about the various initiatives they undertook to entertain kids, and about their plans for 2021. And more.

Read on.

The uncertainty of 2020 engulfed all of us in a seemingly endless summer. With the shelter-in-place order, children across the country were spending all day indoors, bereft of any physical activities and not out of choice. This unprecedented situation allowed creators and publishers in the kids’ entertainment category to further advance and expand the scope of media consumption and creation.

Recognizing the dynamic scenario, we at Sony YAY! created a holistic entertainment diet for kids – where we entertained, fostered imagination, instilled hope, and created memories.

Blending experiential storytelling with compelling narratives, we amplified our pre-existing multiple touchpoints by being present in every platform and format. Another key aspect of the year bygone was to strengthen and identify our diverse and vibrant slate of fresh programming content on a local, regional, and global level.

Laying out the foundation for the next leg of opportunities we set out to develop our iconic toons, properties, and content franchises across TV, web, and mobile.

The show goes on with non-stop entertainment

2020 has been an exciting year for us – despite the challenges, at a time when the audience turned to content as the primary source of entertainment. Our first move was to ensure that we have a continuous supply of fresh content of all our kids’ favourite YAY! toons. Having kids spend all day at home and consume a lot of content saw us recognize this white space and expand our content portfolio with new genres and engrossing narratives.

Rewinding our journey from now to early summer vacation we have launched fresh episodes and telemovies of Honey Bunny and Paap-O-Meter covering a wide array of adventures with these popular YAY! toons at the centre of it. Leaving them spoilt for choice with an array of diverse content, we also served them with new episodes & movies for our action-comedy show, KickO & Super Speedo, followed by the launch of the chase-comedy show, Pyaar Mohabbat, Happy Lucky.

The second half of the year saw us serve our young audiences with a massive treat by launching our very-first mythological offering, Krishna-Balram along with four telemovies based on the characters which had the young audience explore the magical realm of their lives.

Delivering to kids’ likes and preferences, we brought the year to an end by premiering a rib-tickling comedy show of Oscar in Oscar Ab Bas Kar that chronicles the life of a lizard in a desert.

Going the extra mile with experiential platforms 

Further improvising our outreach, 2020 saw us adopting an omnichannel approach to be present at every possible avenue of kids’ preference and bridging any gap between them and their TV best friends. This saw us going beyond our programming line-up and creating a robust YAY! ecosystem that caters to the dynamic preferences of kids.

In light of this new approach, we hosted a series of digital workshops that saw experts from various fields come together to engage, entertain and inspire them to be creative. The YAY! camp inspired thousands of kids to be the best creative version of themselves in an interactive series of fun workshops relating to art and craft, gardening, Zumba, and storytelling to name a few.

2020 saw us adopting an omnichannel approach to be present at every possible avenue of kids’ preference and bridging any gap between them and their TV best friends. This saw us going beyond our programming line-up and creating a robust YAY! ecosystem that caters to the dynamic preferences of kids: Leena Lele Dutta

The ease of access to smartphones and tablets encouraged us to focus on online games based around the most-revered toons. Our games such as Honey Bunny ka Jetpack, KickO & Superspeedo game, Merge Super Speedo was loved by kids as they cumulatively witnessed close to 100M user downloads.

Setting up to make a defining impact in 2021

The New Year opens a possibility of a grand comeback for the Kids Entertainment category. 2021 will see us expanding our YAY! toons universe like never before as we infuse a series/wide array of fresh episodes & telemovies of our marquee shows as well as introduce exciting new indigenous IPs and content across varied genres.

While 2020 was a year of learning and reckoning that opened up avenues for the new, we are certain 2021 will be the year of innovation and novelty where we will create an everlasting experience for our young audience: Leena Lele Dutta

While we proceed with utmost caution regarding our on-ground initiatives this year, Sony YAY! has gradually begun amplifying the engagement quotient up close and personal by visiting kids in various cities through its canter activations.

Extending this outreach virtually, the brand has hosted several School Contact Program sessions along with a fun and interactive DIY workshop to celebrate Makar Sankranti with kids.

Emphasizing tech-infused content we want to make our shows more-lifelike and within the reach of our audience, irrespective of their device. From building strong character affinity, interactive in-app experiences to social media collaborations, we curated engaging online content that allowed fans to spend time with their favorite YAY! Toons where they learned and had fun at the same time.

Further reaching out to kids amongst the underpenetrated markets, we are now available in 9 vernacular languages like Hindi, Bengali, Gujarat, Malayalam, and Kannada for the regional audience.

Driven by the strong core values of diversity and sustainability, the coming year will see us deliver shows with great characters, storylines, and engaging content that kids can enjoy and relate to wherever they are.

While 2020 was a year of learning and reckoning that opened up avenues for the new, we are certain 2021 will be the year of innovation and novelty where we will create an everlasting experience for our young audience.

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