Television channels and game developers are cashing in on the popularity of characters in children’s shows.

The cute little boy in an orange dhoti from Dholakpur seems to have become every child’s best friend. Not only are children religiously viewing the eponymous Chota Bheem, the popular cartoon series on television, they are also playing online games and mobile games where this fictional character is the hero.

He’s not the only one to send kids into a tizzy these days. Japanese characters such as Doraemon and Shinchan have also sparked interest among this ‘pre-teen’ category. Game developers, channels and retailers are capitalising on this obsession and are actively tapping this category for additional revenue.

App developers have coined a new game on Cartoon Network’s popular show Chhota Bheem, called ‘Chhota Bheem Balloon Blaster’, which has caught the fancy of children.

“Chhota Bheem’s popularity on-air has contributed largely to the success of the Web site pogo.tv. ‘Chhota Bheem Balloon Blaster’ is one of the most popular games on pogo.tv which allows fans to connect with their hero through a game. The site has about five lakh users per month,” said Monica Tata, General Manager, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, Turner International India. (See interview below.)

The global animation and gaming market is expected to grow to about $243 billion by 2016 from $122 billion in 2010, according to a study done by KPMG. In comparison, the Indian animation industry is estimated to be Rs 1,130 crore, a small percentage of the world animation market. With a tremendous potential to grow, it is estimated that the Indian animation industry will grow by a CAGR of 16 per cent and will be about Rs 2,400 crore by 2016, the study said.

Aiding the growth in this segment is the increase in Internet penetration in India. Over the past decade, there has been a four-fold growth in kids’ access to computers and Internet at home, which has increased Internet usage to 18 per cent, according to Cartoon Network New Generations Research. Like Chhota Bheem, popular cartoon characters such as Doraemon and Ben 10 have also entered the gaming space. “The under-ten category will be the next wave in the games and applications category. This is primarily because devices nowadays are so app-dependant. We recently got into the pre-teen games and applications space,” said Navin Prabhu, CEO, Quadwave, a gaming company.

There exist many opportunities for content providers to expand the presence of a brand or a character in the mobile and online space through smart phones, tablets and computers.

Cartoon Network and Pogo are focusing on building content that is accessible on all these platforms, Tata added.

Web sites such as free-cartoon-games.com has a wide collection of online games featuring cartoon characters such as Avatar, Dora, Diego, Spiderman, Batman and Bratz, among others. Similarly, for Windows 8 category, games like ‘Catch the Chicken’ and ‘Cows and Bulls’ have been created by developers.

(This article was published on August 9, 2012)
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