Sony YAY’s Sujoy RoyBardhan: Kids prefer watching kids’ channels – their GEC viewing’s involuntary

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For a lot of us the days of coming from school, throwing your bag on the bed and just lying down to watch cartoons are over. Those were the days — no work, no tension, the only worry one had was whether Tyson would be able to beat Kai in a Beyblade match or who was more powerful — Goku or Vegeta? Well, times have changed along with the content now available for kids to watch.

Karthik P K of caught up with SUJOY ROYBARDHAN, Head of Marketing at Sony YAY, on the sidelines of the channel’s launch of superstar-singer Badshah’s new single for their show KickO and Super Speedo, for a chat on the business of Kids television in India and Sony YAY’s priorities therein.

What is the size of the kid’s television market in India and what is Sony YAY’s share in it?

Well, in terms of GRPs the category is about 500 to 600 GRPs and viewership is mostly driven by holidays. We currently own a ten percent share in the whole market, while we are the Number 3 channel in Hindi Speaking Markets and we are the Number One channel in markets like Mumbai and Maharashtra.

As a company, what is your core TG amongst children and parents, and how do you go about marketing to them?

Our core target is kids. While we would like to talk to kids and parents at large, our core audience remains kids.

As a channel, we want to create characters that resonate with the kids in every form and hence, we want to partner with them  in everything that comes across in their daily lives, whether it is going to school and making friends, watching content on YouTube or even a mobile game, So, we want to be present and create these characters and grow across every platform.

As of now television still remains their go-to platform for entertainment and to interact with characters, but they will also go to other platforms and build loyalty towards the character and hence bring us ratings and TRPs.

With today’s various digital sources and content availability, children after the age of around 12 to 14 actually start watching even grown-up adult content. How does the early onset of such content viewing in children’s lives affect your business strategies?

Well, content now is not just for kids and content availability is platform-neutral, so you can get hooked on to content that is possibly on your television or laptop or mobile phone. So, the idea is to create content which is platform-agnostic, so if you create content that is relatable to kids they will watch it on every platform.

For example, we have shows like Sab Jhol Maal Hai, which is on television, but we also have Lapet-te Raho With Hunny & Bunny, which is around characters taken from this show, but is on a digital platform like YouTube, and is more specifically designed for a digital platform, hence it is much more snacky and can be binge-watched.

In a single-TV household, kids watching grown-up content is an (inevitable) eventuality and it is the job of the parents to see what their kids are watching. So, the best thing we can do is to create content that is safe and entertaining for kids.

Kids television is around number four in the pecking order of television genres in  India. And kids from 2 to 14 years old are around one fourth the total TV viewing individuals. But around 80+ percent of kids actually watch GECs and film and other channels. Why is that?

See, the phenomenon of a single-television household still exists in India, so if you see the viewership pattern of a child, it is high during the afternoon time where they have more control over the remote, while towards the evening, when there is a family audience sitting together and watching television, the audience moves towards GECs (General Entertainment Channels) so that the whole family can watch together. But having said that, there is enough data to show that the kids category (of channels) still remains the more preferred category by kids to watch even though there is more time spend on other channels,  but that is not voluntary.

Sony YAY started in 2017. Can you give a  short timeline of Sony YAY from its launch to today — how has it fared and what your plans are for it,  going forward?

We started in 2017 with four brand new shows and characters that kids had never seen before. These shows were Guru Aur Bhole, Sab Jhol Maal Hai, Paap-O-meter and Prince Jai Aur Dumdaar Viru, and over a period of time, we realized that Guru Aur Bhole and Sab Jhol Maal Hai stood out for us, and so we invested more on them, wherein we started creating a lot of extensions for these shows, and now we have 14 movies on Sab Jhol Maal Hai and five movies on Guru Aur Bhole.

We launched the channel with four languages, and now we have seven. There are hits and misses when it comes to content, and that’s why we had to focus more on the ones that worked, so there are more episodes, movies and all that coming up for shows that worked, and we are not investing any more on those shows that didn’t work.

The main idea is to grow this into a franchise where we are creating a lot more of characters that can transcend onto any platform. So, growth in terms of consumer products, growth in terms of gaming, in terms of television viewership and growth in terms of content — these constitute the kind of outlook we have for the platform.

How much of co-viewing meaning mothers and kids watching the channel together, happens on Sony YAY?

A clear indication of whether parental viewership actually happens in the category, is the kind of brands that come on board to advertise on a platforms like this. So, if you see a lot of brands which are FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) or brands that a family may use advertising in the kid’s category, that’s simply because there is a kind of co-viewership that is happening in this space. This is more qualitative rather than number-driven but bigger brands that focus on adult or parent purchases are definitely coming on this platform because co-viewership is happening.

Your thoughts, please