Mumbai: Launching a new fiction show on any channel for however mass or niche an audience, is no easy task, particularly because you want the show to build enormous emotional equity amongst its target groups. So a channel may create a new character, or it may take the shortcut – and the latter is the smart thing that Discovery Kids has done. It has not only picked India’s arguably most successful supercop from Bollywood, Singham. And not only has the channel picked a character that already has an unmatched fan following amongst kids, their parents, siblings, friend and neighbours alike, they have also gone and got the film’s popular creator, Director Rohit Shetty, to get involved as a co-producer and co-owner of the venture.
We talking about the new animation show for kids, Little Singham, which is set to launch on Saturday, the 21st of April. It will play out, predictably, at prime kids’ slots during the summer vacation – 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm. And being an animation show in which, as Shetty jokingly said, “not just cars, in this show anything could fly, it is an animation show after all… even Singham might fly!”
‘Police ki Wardi, Sher ka Damm, Naam hai mera – Little Singham!’ does seem to be a powerful magnet to attract kids with its offering of Super Heropanti, Discovery Kids’ brand purpose.
So the ingredients are well in place, and there’s a 250-strong army of Reliance Animation animators bent over their workspaces, getting Little Singham to launch and, hopefully, fly straight into the hearts of kids and their parents.
Which is why it seems for Discovery Kids Head Uttam Pal Singh that God is in his heaven and all’s going to be well with the world. Here’s why he thinks so: Little Singham will be launched on a massive scale with 156 episodes and 5 tele-features, and will begin airing in the two slots for two straight hours flat. Recognizing the great significance of the audiences in regional audiences, Little Singham will air in three languages – Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Already, Dabur Red Paste is on board as the show’s title sponsor.
All this should help Little Singham achieve the objective its launch announcement states: To become India’s favorite animation character amongst children in the age-group of 5-11 years. These, remember, are the biggest repository of buying pester-power for parents in India. So the advertisers will be watching it closely.
TVNEWS4U’s Yohan P C caught up with Uttam Pal Singh on the sidelines of the Little Singham announcement. Edited excerpts from the conversation.
Where does Discovery Kids stand in the highly competitive Kids entertainment space?
Currently we are at number seven in the kids entertainment genre. However in this competitive genre, the numbers keep changing. In fact in the past two months, we have significantly grown to number seven from having been tenth in the category.
In terms of overall ratings we have grown over 200%, and the growth is still on as we speak. With the launch of Little Singham in a week, we hope to catch up with the holidays trend and expect large numbers of kids to watch the show.
Who will own the IP rights for Little Singham?
Little Singham is co-produced by Discovery Kids, Rohit Shetty Picturez and Reliance Animation, and the IP too is co-owned. We have a business relationship, wherein all partners have got their respective strengths to the table, Discovery broadcasting the show and contributing with the rich understanding that it has about the consumption pattern of the audiences.
With its world-class animation production abilities, Reliance Animation has worked very hard on Little Singham. They have a very strong gaming background and have also done a lot of licensing and merchandising in the past.
And of course, Rohit Shetty Picturez has brought the immensely popular character, Singham, which already is such a huge brand and a household name.
So it could become a win-win for all the partners. How will the revenue be shared?
There is the broadcaster’s revenue, but the beauty about creating an animated IP lies in its power to lend itself to licensing and merchandising, which is an added bonus.
With the explosion of the OTT space, we will also license Little Singham to an OTT platform. We have a co-sharing model between Reliance Animation and us on those fronts. We have partnered with Netflix for Little Singham.
However, our primary motive for now is to engage kids with Little Singham on Discovery Kids. OTT is for a later stage.
When can we expect to see Little Singham on Netflix?
The show will be available on Netflix in about three months or so.
Once the show is on Netflix, will a subscriber be able to binge-watch the show or will it be available season-wise or will each episode be released one at a time, as is being done on Tata Sky’s World Screen? How will you make each episode available?
We definitely won’t release all episodes together. Having said that, Netflix would be in a better position to answer that question. As we speak, we are still producing more episodes of the show so everything would depend on the kind of response we get from our television audience.
What is the marketing plan for Little Singham in an already crowded marketplace that will be even more overcrowded during the holiday season?
We are looking at a lot of cross-platform advertising wherever kids audiences are available — that’s where the biggest and best audiences are available.
As we go deeper in the summer holiday period we will look at some interesting tie-ups.
After the holiday season we would be looking to do on-ground activations across schools to strengthen our hold deeper into the markets.
Are you integrating Little Singham with any brands?
We have lots of brands that are wanting to come on board apart from Dabur Red Toothpaste which is our title sponsor for the show. I would not want to name them at this point of time, but yes, a lot of interest has been shown by brands across the spectrum.
Animation takes much longer than live shoots. How many episodes do you have in your inventory right now?
We have enough episodes to engage the kids for the entire holiday season.
We also have an original television movie for Little Singham. While an episode is of about eleven minutes in duration, a television movie is about sixty to seventy minutes long.
We will release one television movie in this summer holiday period. The second and the third television movie would release later during the festival season and around the New Year season thereafter, respectively.
How have you slotted Little Singham for this summer holiday period?
There will be two sets of telecasts in a day starting from 21st April at 1:30 PM and 5:30 PM on Discovery Kids. Each set of telecast would consist of about 8 episodes spanning over two hours.
Two-hour straight slots for 5 to 11 year old kids! What are your thoughts on the sort of binge watching you are encouraging amongst such young kids?
Television these days is a like baby sitter. Also, look, kids love television, and they just love repeat telecasts. The more they watch the show, the more they want to come back and watch it again. They simply connect with it and they can watch the episode a hundred times. We want to build loyalty among the audiences and we can’t build loyalty with only a little exposure when the competition is extremely strong.
Also, remember, we are making a show that would totally pass muster with the parents of such young kids, and in a language that they would approve. I too am a parent and I would not want my kids to hear or say something that I would not want them to.
…and ultimately it is for parents to help ration young kids’ television-viewing time. OK, moving on to another aspect: original Animation Content comes at a huge cost? How confident are you about a good ROI?
We are looking at Little Singham not just for broadcast, but also as a part business in whatever extension it may lend itself to, since we have co-ownership of the IP, which will help us with return on investment. We will also be syndicating Little Singham globally which will ease up some pressure.
Will you be launching more such cult-character-driven shows in near future?
We do keep receiving a lot of pitches and we do have a lot of internal ideas, which we keep researching about. We are creative guys so the mind is always working. Little Singham is really precious and very important for us. We want to make it big, and at this point in time, we are concentrating and focusing solely on Little Singham.