Shephali Bhatt
Jul 10, 2012

Q&A: Vijay Subramaniam, Disney Kids Network

Thirty seven Indian families won a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland as part of a 'Jet Set Go' campaign. Campaign India caught up with Vijay Subramaniam, executive director, Disney Kids Network, on the sidelines of the unveiling of a Disney-branded Jet Airways aircraft. Edited excerpts:

Q&A: Vijay Subramaniam, Disney Kids Network

You have plans of introducing more live action series as part of Disney's content grid. What is the desired mix of animation and live action? What part of your marketing budget do you plan to allocate to launching more live action series?

Our business philosophy centres around storytelling. We have believed in telling fascinating stories which are locally relevant to the audience. We, as a network, are now at a stage where we can nuance global content for local (Indian) audience. We realised that there was a market for live action series which ensured family inclusive entertainment. Therefore, we started off with Ishaan 18 months ago. Thereafter, we launched two more locally produced live action series (Best of Luck Nikki and The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir). Live series formed five per cent of our content mix and in the last 18 months this number has soared to 19 to 20 per cent. I am not at liberty to disclose financial numbers, but I can tell you that we intend to grow this genre in order to deliver wholesome family entertainment.


In a media interaction, you mentioned that Disney intends to introduce pre-school content, local animation, musicals and superhero genre. What is going to be your modus operandi for this?

We have three channels in the network - Disney Channel, Hungama and Disney XD. There is scope for a lot of interesting stories to be told through these channels. We have recently launched Marvel Universe, a dedicated Marvel programming block, on Disney XD. This was followed by the premiering of 'Ultimate Spider-man' series on the channel. We definitely intend to grow in volume on that front as we go along. Live action, like I mentioned earlier, will continue to grow.

Local animation is an interesting space to be in and we are constantly exploring the right content expression before investing in the genre. We would love to have an Indian version of High School Musical as well but maybe at a later stage, when we have the right script to suit the local audience. We are still building volumes and thus focussing on things that drive audience's attention. The volumes will grow on an overall basis but we are not looking at following at formulaic growth, rather at providing locally relevant content consistently.


What are the new category of advertisers that have shown interest in Disney Kids Network over the last 18 months?

Clients in the consumer electronics space, financial services, and retail have shown interest increasingly. While it is indicative of the fact that we have been able to establish a connect, there's still a lot of ground left to be covered. We have hit a high note with the audience through stories that resonate with them and this has happened after constant research process. It has taken a while for clients to see value in our content and understand our long term strategy. With ideas like Jet Set Go, we have been able to send across the message that our brand is about involving and engaging family audience and the advertisers' ecosystem has started recognising that.


Disney XD is supposed to be the weakling of the network in India. How do you plan to change that perception?

Disney XD is our key priority at the moment. We are focussed on building it as an action-comedy brand. Plans are underway to increase its reach in the Hindi speaking market. For starters, introduction of Marvel Universe has resulted in positive growth for the channel.


Could you give a heads up on your revenue growth?

There's been a strong double digit growth year-on-year. But our focus is on delivering long term value and establising deeper emotional connect with the audience. Monetisation would only be a reward of that effort. We are clearly focussed on achieving long term objectives of establishing strengthened connect with the audience.


How have you engaged brands as part of your 360 degree promotional activities?  .

We have a dedicated team that handles our promotional activities. In the past, we have actively worked with brands like Pepsodent, Clinic Plus and Britannia wherein the brands have been able to leverage on Disney stories. They have been able to borrow Disney's brand equity to build success stories for consumers and thus benefitted from the entire process.


You believe that kids genre is an under indexed genre in India. How does Disney plan to combat that?

It is an under indexed genre in that it delivers increasing reach but that doesn't proportionately reflect on the advertising prices. I believe it's a historical challenge that this genre has been facing. At Disney, we are focussed on leveraging on various elements that allow us to increase value. Through this, we hope that advertisers will realise and soon pay us a fair value for the content.

Campaign India