MUMBAI: A focus on local, quality content has helped Nickelodeon, the Viacaom18-owned channel, become India’s leading children’s channel.

That was one of the first strategic steps taken by Nina Elavia Jaipuria, now Business Head, Kids' Cluster, Viacom18, when she first joined a decade ago.

Back then Nickelodeon was an English-language channel. “So the first thing we did was dub the shows into Hindi and eventually into South Indian languages,” she told Afaqs! “We localised the channel.”

But the ascent to the number one slot gathered pace with the launch five years ago of Motu Patlu, the channel’s first original content creation, adapted from a comic strip.

“We thought we must develop our own intellectual property because that enables us to nurture the franchise,” Jaipuria explained.

But Motu Patlu was a risk in that its adult protagonists were not traditional characters for a children’s show, but it paid off. “The revenue and viewership that we get from this IP can easily run an entire channel, “ she said, with both children and parents watching.

And the spin-offs, in the form of mobile games and merchandise, have opened up new revenue channels that are expected to grow. “I think soon we will be in a scenario where 15% to 20% of the total revenue comes from merchandising.”

Meantime, Jaipuria reported that “ad sales are growing at 20% year-on-year” – a development she attributed to an increase in slot rates and the integration of brands into stories – the Motu Patlu characters drinking Horlicks for example.

“We sell at a premium rate throughout the day,” she added. “There is no non-prime time rate in my channel because kids watch content at any point of time.”

The focus on quality remains a challenge, however. “We get a lot of pitches that we say no to simply because they do not match the standards we want put on our channels,” she reported.

And despite the success, the children’s category remains under-indexed, accounting for around 3% of adspend but 6% of viewing time. “A really sweet spot would be to have a 7% ad spend share for a 7% market share,” Jaipuria said.

Data sourced from Afaqs! additional content by WARC staff