Connecting with Gen Alpha in a digital world

By: |
December 20, 2016 8:09 AM

As the online content space for children witnesses robust growth, broadcasters are attracting them with VoD and OTT offerings

The online space is seeing a spurt because of the availability of separate online channels and various OTT apps. The online space is seeing a spurt because of the availability of separate online channels and various OTT apps.

Seen a kid lately without an iPad or a mobile in his/her hands? We’re guessing not. The Gen Alpha, as many would agree, has a mind of its own and preferences too. It’s no wonder then, that to cater to this lot effectively, brands and content creators are regularly studying their consumption patterns to turn young viewers into their loyal consumers.

With India replacing the US to be number two in the smartphones market, behind only China, a household without a smartphone or/and internet connection, especially in the metros, is a rare sight. Seeing the phenomenal growth of online content with multiple screen consumption, content creators — catering to numerous genres, age groups, languages — have been generating interesting concepts to keep up with the demand. And kids entertainment is no different.

The online space is seeing a spurt because of the availability of separate online channels and various OTT apps. From recently launched video on demand (VoD) platforms like YouTube Kids to ChuChu TV, engagement covers kids ranging from infants to teens with colourful, entertaining and educational videos. The TG might be young, but has huge potential to become tomorrow’s influencers.

No child’s play, this

YouTube India saw growth of 87% (all categories) over the past year confirming its belief to launch a dedicated app — YouTube Kids. Says YouTube’s global head, family and learning, Malik Ducard, “Family and educational content is one of the most popular, successful and dynamic genres on YouTube today.” The children’s category is among the largest in India in terms of viewership, as per YouTube. With most kids consuming a lot of this content on smartphones and tablets, the video-streaming site decided to make YouTube Kids a mobile-only app.

The success of YouTube creators like ChuChuTV, HooplaKidz, USP Studio and Videogyan has inspired many more to embrace the platform. Kids in India watch Indian and international content equally and there is a huge demand for content in several local languages as well. As more users come online and smartphone penetration increases, one can expect this category to see robust growth.

ChuChu TV, after the success of its original channel which witnessed 200% growth y-o-y, started ChuChu TV Surprise. “This, even after being a late starter in the category. Quality content is the key to engage with kids as well as get a nod from their parents,” says ChuChu TV’s founder Vinoth Chandar. The creators spend a lot of time in researching what is ‘popular’ among its audience. Most of them aim to match a child’s endless curiosity, with something for everyone (music, math, science and edutorials, nature documentaries, cartoons, favourite characters, crafting, cooking, and more).

Staying true to Indian sensitivities while adapting international standards and (sometimes) stories is what drives the growth. Parents play an important role in what kids watch and for how long, prompting creators to include special features like a built-in timer. YouTube Kids app alerts your child when the session is over.

Competitive spirit

“From what’s working on TV to what other online creators are doing is always on your research radar,” says Chandar.

OTT has been quick to catch on to young audiences too. SonyLIV, the VoD from SPN India, recently launched LIV Kids with content available for free currently.

“We are all fighting for the time and audience,” says Uday Sodhi, head, digital business at SonyLIV while adding that TV still consumes the largest chunk of the pie but soon everyone will gravitate towards smaller screens, especially kids as they are not appointment viewers. The OTT player relies on its consumer base for the kids’ category to pick up as it aims to create a pool of its own characters as well as third-party aggregators. International players Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Viacom18’s Voot also have offerings for kids.

“When people in other countries and regions look to expand in the family market, I often tell them — go check out what’s happening in India. You need to meet ChuChuTV, AppuSeries, USP Studios and Videogyan,” points out Ducard. “This is one of the many reasons we’re so excited to be launching in India. India has brought a deep spirit of innovation and creativity to YouTube and YT Kids.”

Growth graph

Though huge, the category is still at a nascent stage. The players agree that as 3G and 4G penetration grows and with YouTube’s offline mode, there will be greater adoption of smaller screens across the country. The kids genre on TV is small and sees an insignificant portion of the ad pie. The dilemma of generating revenue through ads or subscription is here to stay.

Nonetheless, as digital natives not only consume three-four hours of content daily across screens, advertisers are willing to shell out money on digital platforms as well. “We see a great opportunity to engage with kids through online channels and OTT platforms. From regular advertising on these platforms to integrating our brands in content, we seek newer ways of engagement with kids on digital platforms,” says Mayank Shah, category head, Parle Products.

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