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Thursday, Jun 27, 2002

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It's cartoons vs soaps on prime time

Ratna Bhushan

NEW DELHI, June 26

CARTOON Network is finally admitting it -- competition for the channel is not Nickelodeon or Fox Kids, but family soaps such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus and Kutumb on Sony. "However, we are aspiring to dislodge Star Plus as the most watched channel in audience shares among 4-14 year old kids across SEC-A, B and C households across the day (between 5 am to 9 pm), as per TAM ratings. That could happen even later this year,'' Mr Soumitra Saha, Vice President -- Advertising Sales, Cartoon Network, said.

According to TAM ratings, Cartoon Network's audience share among cable and satellite households in February 2002 stood at 7.4, and Star Plus' share was 11.71. Sony TV's audience share for the same period was 5.1, Zee's was 3.8 and Zee Cinema's audience share was 2.9.

Meanwhile, the channel is mulling increasing its Hindi programming feed from eight hours currently, to 16 hours subsequently. Apart from an eight-hour Hindi feed on weekdays and nine hours of Hindi programming on weekends, the channel has a three-and-a-half hour programming schedule in Tamil on weekdays. "We are considering increasing our language feeds. The thrust on additional language localisation will be based on research findings,'' Mr Saha said.

Meanwhile, the channel is going aggressive on off-channel commerce. "We are currently in negotiations with marketers of synergistic products for product and promotional licensing deals,'' Ms Indra Suharjono, Vice President & Deputy General Manager, Turner Entertainment Network, told Business Line. The channel intends to launch apparel in association with Weekender later this year, and is currently scouting for a partner for licensing and merchandising stationery, Ms Suharjono said.

Localisation of content is also being discussed, Mr Saha said. For example, a breakfast show by the name of the `Kukdoo Show' just went on air recently.

The channel, which is in its seventh year in India, claims that ratings have gone up by 73 per cent over last year, with average monthly tune-in increasing by 20 per cent. According to Mr Saha, Cartoon Network's India-specific Web site is currently attracting page views of 5.5 million a month. The channel's current penetration stands at 15 million homes, which is a 25 per cent increase over last year.

While declining to divulge absolute numbers, Mr Saha said that the channel's ad revenue share went up by 47 per cent in 2001 over the previous year.

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