Warner Bros’ bet on local IPs sparks growth of kids’ cluster

The company has expanded its programming on POGO by adding Malayalam, Kannada, and Marathi content.
The company has expanded its programming on POGO by adding Malayalam, Kannada, and Marathi content.


  • The company has expanded its programming on POGO by adding Malayalam, Kannada and Marathi content

Warner Bros. Discovery, which operates children’s TV channels POGO, Cartoon Network, and Discovery Kids in India, has reaped rewards by investing in local intellectual properties (IPs) such as Little Singham and Chhota Bheem, which helped drive growth.

The company has expanded its programming on POGO by adding Malayalam, Kannada, and Marathi content, besides launching weekly long format shows to captivate and retain its young audience.

However, linear television remains the company’s mainstay even though all content is available on its direct-to-consumer streaming platform discovery+, besides Prime Video Channels in India.

“The kids’ genre has always been a good contributor to the (broadcast) industry and business with significant potential that is only going to grow from hereon. The differentiator for us is what we have invested in local IPs to create characters that resonate and connect with the Indian culture," Uttam Pal Singh, head of kids cluster at Warner Bros. Discovery, said in an interview.

Introducing characters like Chhota Bheem and Little Singham offer a more relatable and slice-of-life perspective compared to traditional mythological and superhero narratives that the children in India were used to watch. Chhota Bheem, an animation show, has been on air since 2008, while Little Singham, an adaptation of the Bollywood action movie was created in collaboration with director Rohit Shetty.

While the pandemic led to increased viewership for kids’ content, as children were confined to their homes, it did not translate into advertising revenue for the overall industry as the market condition was very challenging, Singh said.

Subsequently, as normalcy returned with the reopening of schools, viewership dipped, but still the genre’s reach grew 20% compared to the previous year as things stabilized. This prompted POGO to broaden its language offering with Malayalam, Kannada, and Marathi, in addition to Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Now, the channel seeks to engage the children for longer periods by replacing 11-22 minute daily programming to new formats with 44- minute shows for the week.

“We do sense an opportunity in adaptations but at the same time, a lot of work goes into these. We cannot just pick up any Bollywood IP, the character needs to get a life of its own without messing up its intrinsic brand value," said Singh.

The success of kids’ shows like Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz, adaptation of another Bollywood hit, has also fuelled the interests of the producers to continue featuring such film franchises for the big screen.

Furthermore, the company that has already ventured into gaming for some of these IPs, is set to diversify its offerings through licensing and merchandise.

While all shows are available on discovery+, the company’s video streaming service that is part of the Prime Video Channels, an aggregation service by Amazon Prime Video , that hosts subscription-driven video-on-demand platforms on its app and website, Singh said linear television remains the focus. “We’re able to create significant value and impact on television, in terms of revenue on distribution and ad sales. It remains a mainstay because we’ve built scale on it for the genre and once our content has reached majority of kids on television, it always has the potential to travel to other platforms."

The firm has also signed a syndication deal with Netflix, Singh said.

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