Viacom Eyes India For Outsourcing Animation Content

Mumbai | Updated: May 3 2004, 05:30am hrs
Media giant Viacom Inc, which owns popular channels like MTV and Nickelodeon, is exploring the possibility of outsourcing animation content from India.

A team of senior Viacom officials were in India to identify opportunities for growth. Though most of the animation content for the Viacom channels are made in the US, the media giant also outsources some work from Korea and Philippines. Viacom could shift some of its work from these two Asian countries to India. Kids channel Nickelodeon, for instance, runs popular animated series like Rugrats, Catdog and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Alex Kuruvilla
We are looking at possibilities of sourcing animation work from India for our group of channels. There is a low-cost advantage. Besides, the quality of Indian animation is good. We, however, havent firmed up our plans yet, said MTV Networks International chief operating officer Alex Ferrari.

Added MTV Networks India managing director Alex Kuruvilla: Our international folks were impressed by the animation facilities in India and have asked us to explore opportunities where India could be a source for animation.

Viacom is also evaluating other areas where it can grow its business from India. The company, as reported in eFE, is in talks to acquire stake in SS Music, a music channel in the south.

We are looking at possibilities of getting more products into India including a kids channel. We are also seriously weighing the possibility of launching VH1, said Mr Ferrari. Viacom, in fact, has been considering the launch of its international music channel VH1 in the Indian market for over two years. But by joining Sony-Discoverys One Alliance for distribution, Viacom may now be in the right position to bring in more channels. The first task, however, is to stabilise the two existing channels MTV and Nickelodeon in the youth and kids space, said Mr Kuruvilla.

The companys focus this year will be to invest in Nickelodeon and try to push it into a strong position. Nickelodeon will have a separate, dedicated team for this.

We are in the process of recruiting a head for Nickelodeon. The focussed team will look at all issues related to Nickelodeon as a channel but will report to functional heads of MTV, said Mr Kuruvilla.

The localisation of Nickelodeon into 12-hour dubbed Hindi programming has been timed with the distribution tie-up with One Alliance, said Mr Kuruvilla. We hope to piggyback on One Alliances penetration into cable and satellite homes. We will leverage MTV to build Bollywood programming on Nickelodeon which is relevant to kids, said Mr Kuruvilla. Noted film actor Saif Ali Khan will be used as the channels ambassador.

For growing MTV, a soap from Balaji Telefilms will be launched. We have experimented with fashion, love, adventure, reality and sports. This time we are doing fiction. It will take us into the territory of general entertainment and allow us to nibble into their revenue and ratings, said Mr Kuruvilla.