There is a huge gap in regional markets and hence we have been consciously working in that direction.
Launched in April 2017, Sony YAY! is Sony Pictures Networks Ltd’s only kids’ entertainment channel. It is also the only Kids’ TV channel which is available in seven languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, Marathi, Malayalam and English. The channel has launched 6 original IP’s including Honey Bunny Ka Jholmaal- A slapstick adventure Comedy show of a cat duo, Paap-O-meter- which is a ghost comedy, Kicko and Super speedo- A tale of a super-kid and his futuristic gadget car who are out to save funcity and Guru Aur Bhole- a musical comedy. Despite being a late entrant in the category, the channel has already jumped to join top 5 in a short duration of 2.5 years. Financial Express Online talked with Leena Lele Dutta – Business Head, Sony YAY! about the channel’s growth and future plans. Excerpts:
Why kids entertainment sector? The space is already so crowded, what is your differentiator?
Sony YAY! was launched at a time when the kids entertainment space was in a state of inertia. There was no freshness, no novelty in terms of the offerings to the kids. At such time, to complete the SPN bouquet by adding on a kids’ channel was opportune. Even though we are the last to enter the category, we looked at it from a perspective to engage with the kids and give a channel which is by them; for them. We’ve always maintained that our content will be the key differentiator in the category and 2.5 years later, it still holds valid. We are the only channel that launched with 6 homegrown shows with a key focus on creating content for Indian audience. Right from the characters to the storylines, there is a conscious effort to have a desi connect that creates direct relevance with the young fans. Not just that, we are the only National Kid’s TV Channel to be present in seven different languages (Only one in Bangla, Marathi and Malayalam) and that helps us penetrate deeper in the regional markets. We are glad that our belief on creating home grown content has taken us into a leadership position in such a short span of time.
How does Sony YAY! build the relatability with kids and their characters?
Sony YAY! offers a wide range of content within the kid’s animation space. Our characters and shows are built keeping the preferences and palates of young Indian audience in mind.We have slapstick comedy with Honey-Bunny ka Jholmaal, a superhero kid in the form of KicKO, wisecracks through Guru Aur Bhole and a ghost comedy through Paap-O-meter.
Not just that, we have content in multiple formats as well, be it on TV, movies or even short snackable content for our digital video platforms. This helps us build characters and retain audiences while maintaining a strong engagement across multiple platforms. We aim to construct a strong connect by being present at multiple touch-points through our extensive on ground activations across India. The idea is to associate ourselves with kid’s at all relevant platforms. So be it malls, schools or our canters in smaller towns, we aim to be present wherever the kids are.This strong bond has translated into a huge growth in viewership and has propelled us to the number 3 position across urban and rural markets in the kids entertainment genre in just 2 years.
Is it just entertainment or also about infotainment?
The core essence of Sony YAY! is pure entertainment. Our shows and initiatives are designed to facilitate kids to enter the world of YAY!that brings their imagination to life with power packed dose of entertainment. However, our stories lend themselves to subtly display the key values for the kids like friendship, kindness, courage etc. which is well embedded into the storylines of our shows.
What is the importance of creating regional content and Sony YAY!’s efforts in the same?
There is a huge gap in regional markets and hence we have been consciously working in that direction. Sony YAY! is the first kids’ TV channel which is available in 7 languages – Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, English, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam and the only national kids’ TV channel to have a Marathi, Bangla and Malayalam feed. With this we aim to strengthen our positioning in the kids’ genre by offering content in viewers’ preferred languages, thus guaranteeing a worthwhile experience and intensifying our connect in regional markets. We have already attained a leadership position in markets like Maharashtra, Kerala and West Bengal with our regional content offerings.
In you view, is the shift from TV to digital affecting the sector? Which OTT platform/s you’ll be coming on?
Our goal at Sony YAY! is to be present at every instance of a child’s day in one form or another. As such, we endeavor to create an ecosystem where our viewers can experience the toons on any platform of their choosing. As a part of this endeavor, we have even released a ‘Merge SuperSpeedo’ mobile game and another will be available shortly. Even on YouTube, our content has been tailored as snackable short format content through ‘Lapet te raho’ and many more. Given the fact that snack-able content is available on our YouTube channel, we clocked over 1 million subscribers in just 8 months!
We are present on the kids section of Sony LIV app and owing to popular demand, some of our episodes and movies are also available to view on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
What are your marketing strategies/campaigns that assist in giving kids a 360-degree YAY! experience?
As I mentioned earlier, we aim to be present at as many touch-points as possible. Our aim is to give kids a YAY-experience round the clock and hence we constantly associate with brands that will amplify our reach. For one of our more popular shows – KickO & SuperSpeedo – we roped in rap sensation Badshah to sing the title track. This is one of the first such associations in the category. The association was carefully thought through and we zeroed in on Badshah basis the similarities he and KickO have. Their hairstyles and talents in singing and dancing made it a perfect fit and also something that would connect with the kids.
One of the largest mall and canter activations was undertaken by us spanning across 15 malls and 126 cities respectively. All these activities go a long way in helping the growth of viewership and we’ve seen it paying off really well.
Our efforts go beyond the traditional on ground activations for example we experimented in the F&B sector as well, when we teamed up with Gelato Italiano to introduce two special flavors of the month across 12 cities during the summers. Along with this, we also associated with various television shows from our network.Our toons were part of SET’s Super Dancer, Sony Marathi’s Hasya Yatra & H.M Bane T.M Bane and Sony SAB’s My name ijjLakhan.
Your new shows, festival marketing, content line-up for the future?
We have geared up towards giving our viewers an exciting mix of content this festive season. From this diwali channel has set to expand its content bank through a host of fresh episodes and movies. Fans of Paap-O-Meter are in for a treat as new episodes of the unique ghost comedy is surely going to bowl them over.
The channel will also showcase a host of movies wherein Honey Bunny will be leading in not one, but three offerings in the form of Honey Bunny in Gangs of Filmcity, Honey Bunny & The Cricket Gang and Honey Bunny in a Crazy family adventure. Honey and Bunny have grown to be two of the most-loved characters on Sony YAY! and these movies are going to give kids the same lovable pair in brand new avatars.
What in your view is the way forward for the kid’s entertainment space – Trends, mediums, activities that will drive the sector?
The kid’s category is at a very interesting juncture. While there is a lot of home grown content we still need to see ecosystem being built around the IPs that have been or will be created.We are keen on building a robust ecosystem around our content portfolio for our young viewers. One of the key initiatives towards this is becoming the only National Kid’s TV Channel in India with 7 languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and English. From toys to stationery, from apparel to food, the channel brings alive its endearing characters and make them a part of kids’ lives wherever they are. This is a natural progression and extension of our IPs.
Satiating the needs of this tech savvy generation will hold the key to being relevant with the TG. While seamlessly building the characters through engagements and interactivity through various on-air and online platforms will allow the characters to build not just visibility but a strong connect as well.