AS IP owners continue to eye the emerging market in India, Cartoon Network is gearing up to launch two theme parks by year’s end in a bid to grab the attention of the country’s 30 million leisure and amusement consumers.
The first park, Planet POGO, opens this June in Rohini, and Cartoon Network Townsville will follow in December, setting up camp in the town of Noida. The goal is to capitalize on growing brand awareness for Cartoon Network India and POGO in the region, built on the channels’ dominance of the Indian kids TV landscape. (CN India cornered a 28% cable/satellite share of boys four to 14 in 2006, with POGO not far behind at 22%.)
Cartoon Network India forged strategic alliances with International Recreations Parks and Unitech Amusement Parks to build the sites, selecting locations just outside New Delhi because the disposable income of the city’s inhabitants is more than twice the national average.
CN’s research indicates that amusement park locations have already been springing up at a good clip, with 53 sites established since 1993. And Ian Diamond, senior VP and GM for Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, expects to see the number of family entertainment centers (including theme parks, water parks and multiplexes) more than double to 500 outlets by the year 2010. The country’s theme parks currently generate around US$90 million annually, but that number could explode to US$300 million by the end of 2007, given that the entire Indian leisure industry is expected to grow to US$1 billion from US$227 million within the next three years. Not surprisingly, CN is in the midst of formulating a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote the new ventures on the ground and on-air, but couldn’t discuss details at press time.
As for the parks themselves, Planet POGO will be the smaller of the two, featuring eight rides and seven interactive attractions, while CN Townsville will start out with 13 rides and nine attractions. Both parks will boast trains, playgrounds, rollercoaster-like rides, walk-around characters posing for photos, live shows and merry-go-rounds.
For India’s children, the theme parks should help increase their sense of connection with CN’s characters, and Diamond says the parks also provide a way of repaying the community for supporting Cartoon Network India over the past decade.
With the move, CN beats theme park juggernaut Disney on setting up amusement outlets in India. However, Disney’s acquisition of Hungama TV and the establishment of a consumer products office in the region last year indicates CN won’t likely be alone in the field for long.