‘Characters today are more story driven’
With Cartoon Network completing 25 years, Siddharth Jain, managing director, Turner International, South Asia, talks about the best phase of the channel, and how the content keeps changing along with an evolving audience.
Most of us have grown up watching Cartoon Network and have some fond memories of the channel. From watching Tom and Jerry to The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo to Samurai Jack, the list of our favourite shows is endless. The channel recently completed 25 years and Siddharth Jain, managing director, Turner International, South Asia, contributes the channel’s success to their fans. Here, he tells us more about their journey and how they are entering new spaces and taking forward the story. Excerpts:
What has been the biggest contributor to the success of the channel?
The success of Cartoon Network can be primarily attributed to our fans. Over the years, they have developed a strong, positive and unique relationship with the brand and its characters. Over its glorious 25 years, the channel has transcended age barriers and emerged as the most-loved entertainment channel for children, young adults and millennials.
There has been a discussion on social platforms about the best phase of Cartoon Network. What, according to you, has been its best phase?
It is right here and now. The channel engages with its fans through multiple touch-points such as digital, a range of uber-cool merchandise, new and improved shows and a variety of on-ground activations. Our on-ground initiatives this year involved hosting fan interactions with characters at malls and schools. We also have had great success with Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), Turner India’s licensing and merchandising wing. CNE recently also launched the retro collection of merchandise, reminiscent of its iconic ’90s characters. With an aim to market to the millennials, we aim to offer fans an opportunity to retain a tangible connection with their favourite characters. In November 2017, we launched child safety and security programme #BachchePoliceBulayenge, a campaign in association with the Mumbai Police. This campaign aims at educating kids about the dangers they are plagued with, and at instilling the habit of approaching the police in case of any emergency. Featuring Kris, from Cartoon Network’s extremely popular series Roll No. 21, we created two videos, part of a series of 5 videos addressing social concerns pertaining to child safety, such as following traffic rules and regulations, safety from strangers, dialling 100 in case of an emergency and the ways to be a responsible citizen.
Over the years, how much of the content had to change with changing viewership?
Over the years, the audience has evolved drastically with a wider choice of entertainment and improved storytelling. With technology taking prime position, there have been changes in animation and the way consumers are connecting to it. Characters today, are created to be more story driven, providing an individual personality to each. When Cartoon Network introduced in-short videos, a fresh look for Indian animation that sets itself apart with sharp animation timing and attractive designs, we came to the forefront of change in evolving markets and environment. However despite the emergence of various new technologies and animations, our channel always promises to deliver responsible content that is suited for complete family entertainment.
Cartoon Network recently also moved into the digital space. How do you see its growth in it?
India’s media and entertainment industry is predicted to touch $34.8 billion by 2021. The average consumer’s affinity towards digital platforms has propelled the industry to rethink traditional platforms of entertainment consumption and generation of revenue. The country is consuming content via video-on-demand more than ever before. The average viewership of VOD on a handheld device is around 186 minutes while linear television is still struggling at about 120 minutes. The numbers are clearly demonstrating that there has been a digital revolution in India. Keeping this in mind, Turner India has launched several mobile applications and will continue creating character-based game applications as well, which will be a part of larger immersive experiences for our fans. Turner India has also strategically partnered with various platforms in the digital space such as Amazon Prime and Voot by bringing its popular shows to the streaming service.
What are the certain areas the channel is going to concentrate on in the coming years?
What we are excited about is a diverse range of apps with unique concepts that will strengthen the connect with the shows. The apps will have interactive features, easy navigation and user interface, all designed to constitute a fun and intuitive experience.