Although its eight-year-old Cartoon Network India feed currently beams into 18 million homes and corners around 50% of the market’s kids advertising dollars, Turner Broadcasting International still sees more untapped potential in India, where roughly 10% of the country’s 1.03-billion population was under the age of six when the last national census was taken in March 2001. To tap into that burgeoning demo, Turner launched a new 24-hour, English-language kids channel called Pogo in January to complete its Indian kids entertainment package.
Pogo’s lineup consists almost entirely of live-action programming, so audience cannibalization between Turner’s two offerings should be minimal. The new net’s schedule targets a core kids demo of four- to 14-year-olds and is split up into three key dayparts: Young Kids (two to four), Kids Prime (four to nine) and Family & Special Events (10-plus). Dramas, comedies, movies and documentaries make up the bulk of its programming reserves, and Pogo’s schedule is designed to trigger whole-family viewing.
‘Children enjoy watching non-cartoon programming, and in search of it, they often end up watching shows that are targeted at adults on general entertainment channels,’ says Ian Diamond, Turner Asia’s senior VP and GM. ‘We decided to launch a second kids channel that will showcase and offer high-quality, multi-genre programming for kids and their families on a destination ideally meant for them.’
For its Young Kids preschool block, Diamond is after fun, learning-focused series with half-hour episodes that teach basic values like friendship, sharing, curiosity and responsibility. To fit that bill, Turner has acquired Barney & Friends from HIT Entertainment, Ragdoll’s Boobah and Teletubbies, and Millimages’ Ethelbert the Tiger.
Variety is Diamond’s programming goal for the Kids Prime block, and he’s taking a look at half-hour comedies, dramas and learning series to fill out the block. In this vein, Turner has already picked up Ragdoll’s live-actioner Brum, song-and-dance format Hi-5 from Kids Like Us and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s award-winning science and nature show Beakman’s World.
And the Family & Special Events strand will open up to movies and documentaries in addition to half-hour comedy and drama series. Turner has started off airing Discovery’s Walking with Dinosaurs, Aardman Animations’ Wallace & Gromit, Robbie the Reindeer specials Hooves of Fire and Legend of the Lost Tribe (BBC Animation) and feature film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in this space.
Initially, Pogo’s schedule will depend exclusively on international acquisitions. But Diamond hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the channel might eventually follow the strategy of Cartoon Network, which airs Hindi programming and has sourced seven locally produced series in the last two years.
Pogo averaged a 0.06 rating with kids ages four to 14 during its first month of operation in January, with TAM (Television Audience Measurement Media Research) surveying the channel’s performance from 6 a.m. to midnight in the six key Indian cities of Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Pogo currently airs on India’s largest private network Zee Telefilms and Turner International’s distribution alliance Zee Turner India. Diamond says the company’s goal is to eventually make the channel available in all of India’s 40 million cable and satellite homes, but Turner hasn’t yet disclosed its plans to broaden the new net’s distribution.
The Turner kidnets currently compete for viewers with Nickelodeon India (which targets the same demographic as Pogo) and two-year-old dedicated children’s channel Splash TV. But the market might get a bit more crowded soon, with Disney planning to form a subsidiary in India and launch a kids channel, and local media company UTV preparing to enter the market with a multi-genre Hindi-language channel for four- to 19-year-olds.