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Why OTT platforms are carving a separate space for children’s content

Devika Singh

With kids emerging as one of the fastest-growing audiences on digital media, over-the-top (OTT) service providers are busy vying for their attention with exclusive offerings. According to a PwC report, two million children around the world went online for the first time in 2018. Furthermore, streaming giant Netflix has reported that as many as 83 million households on its platform (comprising 60% of its users) watch kids and family-content, globally.

While YouTube was the first mover, players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have historically had a separate section for kids content. Now, Indian OTT players too, the likes of Hungama Digital and Viacom18's Voot, have introduced standalone apps for kids. ChuChu TV, which runs several kids channels on YouTube, has also expanded its services to OTT.

As of December 2019, the YouTube Kids app saw over 100 million installs, while ChuChu TV Pro, ChuChuTV Lite and Voot Kids have been installed by over one million users each on Google Play Store.

Given that parents seek age-appropriate content for their kids, a separate app for kids-only content is a good idea, says Ashish Pherwani, partner and media and entertainment leader, EY India. But will they find many takers?

Not just fun

The newer OTT apps are differentiating themselves by including educational content on their platforms. Voot Kids, for instance, includes e-books, audio books and quizzes, besides content from Viacom18's TV channel Nickelodeon. The platform has tied up with Oxford University Press, WarnerMedia, YoBoHo, BBC Studios' CBeebies, Sony Music, Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO, among others, for the same.

"Almost 15% of the daily viewers on Voot come for kids content. We also learnt that 87% of Indian parents agree that mobile helps immensely with their kid's learning," says Saugato Bhowmik, business head, Voot Kids. Voot Kids focusses on fun learning, and has advertised this in its campaign, #MastiMeinAcchai. It is a multi-format app featuring key sections dedicated to 'watch, read, listen and learn' with over 20,000 content pieces. The app follows the subscription model, and is available at `99 per month and `799 per year.

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Hungama Kids has 2,000 minutes of video on its platform on topics ranging from general knowledge to science and mathematics. It has specific content across five age groups (from 0-18 years). "We are creating a product that not only talks about entertainment, but is big on education, too. We have realised that besides kids, we can also create content for parents and teachers keeping kids at the centre of it," says Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media.

Hungama Kids' subscription packages are priced at `30 a month and `300 a year, with an initial free trial offer for a day.

Teething troubles

As these companies try to tap a larger share of kids' viewership in the country, monetisation remains the biggest challenge. While advertising is not a viable option for these platforms, subscription-based apps have not found many takers in the country so far.

"There is a very good product in YouTube Kids, which is free so the subscription-based apps will have a tough time convincing parents to sign up for their products," says an industry analyst.

Vinoth Chander, co-founder and CEO of ChuChuTV, says the company still gets a major share of revenue from its YouTube channels, despite being present across OTT apps such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, and having an OTT platform of its own. Its subscription-based app ChuChu TV Pro has over 50,000 paid subscribers.

The lack of original content is another impediment. A report by KPMG states that although OTT platforms have increased their share in the overall Intellectual Property (IP) production revenue pie, TV content still contributes significantly to it. Raman Kalra, partner, PwC India, says, "If you want customers to stick to your platform, a few IPs are needed, because viewers are not loyal to platforms these days, but to the content."

Indian businesses have not invested in original content as they were discouraged early on with the poor performance of domestic animation, says Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte. "Also, building IP is a long-term investment; you have to build an ecosystem around it," he adds.

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