No Kidding: Nickelodeon's Nina Jaipuria On Toes To Woo Kids

This four-channel strong franchise has innovation embedded in its DNA, where characters are consciously made relatable, engaging and clutter-breaking

The need for new characters and immersive stories is at an all-time high and Nickelodeon continues to address this need by entertaining kids with endearing characters through new formats and relatable storytelling. Leading the local IP content game, the franchise that is robust across demographies and geographies is all set to launch its 11th homegrown animated IP ‘Chikoo aur Bunty’, based entirely on the sweet-sour and inseparable relationship between siblings.

Growing from strength to strength with its programming strategy, Nickelodeon has successfully identified white spaces and created path-breaking localised content appealing to children in India. With 700+ hours of local content, the franchise today dominates the kids’ space with 33% market share and highest reach in the genre with 50M each week.

In an exclusive chat with Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18, she describes how the kids' genre is panning out in India, what goes behind alluring this audience, festive plans and more.

On the kids entertainment category's evolution post-pandemic 

The kids' category continues to be one of the categories that is enjoying the growth in viewership. There has been a decline by 10% from the huge surge that we saw in the COVID period where the genre grew about 40%. But having said that, kids are still at home and schooling online and entertainment is the need of the hour, given that things around them are still fairly critical and they are still homebound to a large extent. 

So, while the category declined, it is still above COVID levels and I assume that this will continue for a while till life come back to normal. This genre has always been a very large genre. It is 7% of total TV, which after GEC is a very big genre anyway. So to me, it will continue to cater to kids and have a lot of co-viewership because, to begin with, we're all still predominantly a one television household. 

For me, there is more than enough in this genre for them to come and see from 2 perspectives- First is to come back to your most favourite character in shows to watch more and more. The second is to come and see something new and different, which of course creates a lot of intrigue and curiosity and you want to come to sample which we have catered to with new movies and new stories. So I think the genre will continue to cater to kids and their families and will remain slightly above pre-covid levels for a while. 


On challenges and opportunities in running a kids channel

This target audience is the most dynamic audience. They're always evolving, they're in and out of age groups. Every age group has a distinct preference, likes, dislikes, passion, etc. Even their lingo changes while their view of the world changes. It's evolving and dynamic and it is a challenge and an opportunity to have that pulse of your audience – To know what they need, where they’re headed, then you're actually able to cater to them that much more. And that's what makes it so challenging and there's a learning curve all the time. Because the curve is about not doing the same thing, it's about innovating, always doing something new and different. 

For this, we are always on our toes, to be able to cater to a very dynamic audience. It's really exciting to remain relatable and contemporary to them and be their preferred brand and show. And I think that's what's really exciting because every time we look for a white space we have to think of how do we engage them? How do we relate to them? How do we identify with them? How amazing it is when we find an innovative way of doing so. So, there is no formula to follow. And that's what makes it very, very exciting. 

And of course, over the years, you will notice the category has become very cluttered and competitive. So, one has to always be on your toes and make sure that you're able to defend and dominate the leadership position that you have which makes it even more difficult. Sustaining leadership is always challenging and harder than getting there and we have sustained it for 8 long years. That is what sets us apart i.e. knowing the pulse of our audience. You're always  exploring, you're always taking the risk, and you're making sure that the audiences are entertained and engaged


On spearheading & maintaining an immersive channel

There are three things if you ask me- One is about you curate and conceptualise the character. How the character is able to capture the hearts and minds and imagination of children and eventually over the period of time develops a relationship and a bond that the child has with the character. Then it is so habit-forming that you want to have your comfort food, and you want to go back and see that show and that character over and over and over again. And so, there is loyalty to the character which leads to loyalty to the channel and brand. 

The second most important is how you tell a story to a child and every time you tell a story that needs to be told, how do you interestingly cater to the shorter attention span? Hence, scripting and storytelling are very important. At the same time, it is also important that you keep pace with the times, stay relevant and contemporary by adding smart devices being added into your show, adding games and making sure that the look and feel of the show are what the kids like and seek. Questions like what is the kind of fashion, the look, the feel, the clothes, the language, the music, the sound that kids will like, will it make them feel comfortable, is it taking them to a relatable place, is it taking them to an imaginary place are also important questions to be addressed.  The quality of animation, the quality of the script, and the way the dialogues are delivered is hence the game-changer.


On popularity of its home-grown characters & the new IP launch

Nickelodeon has always stayed ahead of the curve by introducing kids to characters that are loved and adored. We have consistently catered to our young viewers’ evolving preferences with innovative entertainment and immersive storytelling and enhanced engagement experiences. Continuing to lead the dynamic kids’ space is a testimony of our thought-through business and content strategies. With the launch of Chikoo aur Bunty, we will add further width and depth to our portfolio of “Made in India IPs” and provide impetus to our mission of entertaining kids and creating an evolved kids ecosystem

On plans for the festive season

The festive season has always been a big quarter for us pre-covid as well as now. We have already built some momentum beginning September by launching new stories and new episodes of our existing IP’s. You will also see a premiering of a couple of TV movies that create a lot of momentum where kids are excited to come and watch new premiers. It also gets attention from partners and advertisers who love to sponsor movies and movie blocks.  

The channels on the franchise take on a very festive look as well. We've created some lovely Diwali lights and festivities around the packaging of the channel. You will also see us celebrating Children's Day in a big way and will be a very big part of the quarter. Christmas will also be celebrated with a lot of fanfare with Lift Your Gift is given that it is the season of Santa. And then, of course, we will top it off with Kids Choice Awards 2021 which was a runaway success last year in its digital avatar. 

We have a very robust plan coming up for this quarter. We also know that this is a quarter watched by advertisers and partners because they know that kids are out there. It is usually a happy situation where demand is more than the supply. This means that we automatically are able to get a premium not only for the pole position we hold but also due to the increased demand. We will see a lot of brands coming on board for the festive season. We have a canvas consisting of parents and grandparents and this is a beautiful canvas where advertisers can come and paint the story they want to talk to their audience about. There is a whole opportunity for brands to come and integrate their brand story with our characters that can actually create promotions, which are far more effective and immersive.

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