Whatever else might be affected by the fallout with the ruling powers of Tamil Nadu, Sun TV Network hasn't lost its ability to churn out market winners. The launch of Chutti TV, a kids' channel, in mid-April, has proved to be a resounding success in the south. In just four months, Chutti TV has succeeded in grabbing the top spot amongst children's channels in Tamil Nadu; it had a 58 per cent share of viewership as per tam Peoplemeter data between July and August 18 in that state. The share of the previous leader Toon Disney, which stood at 47 per cent in the January-March period, has dropped to 23 per cent over the same period.
On a national level, Chutti TV accounts for a share of 7 per cent. Whilst competitors like Cartoon Network and Hungama TV enjoy nation-wide shares of 22 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, the viewership figures for Chutti TV are not to be sneezed at. After all, the channel has programming in the local language, which is Tamil. Clearly, what has worked is the effort the channel has put in sourcing original content. And that's got advertisers interested. "We have a good mix of national brands as well as local and regional brands," says Hansraj Saxena, coo, Sun TV Network.
To be sure, national brands like Alpenliebe, Cadbury's, Britannia, Sunfeast, Funskool, Horlicks and Surf Excel are airing their commercials on Chutti TV. In its kitty are also regional players like Sarvana Stores, Jamai Icecream, Pothy's and Paravasa Ulagam Theme park, among others. According to Salil Pitale, Head, Media & Telecom, Enam Investment Banking: "The Tamil Nadu market has in the past taken well to the various differentiated channels from Sun TV Network. This is because of the inherent strengths of the Sun TV Network channels, coupled with a fairly evolved local advertiser community that benefits from access to channels with different content and at different price points."
In terms of content, the group has already tied up with Sony Pictures, China Animax, Earth Tree, Studio 100 and others. As a result, it has some popular programmes and animation series in its stable which include Jackie Chan, Men In Black, Boomba and Wizzy & Woopy (all dubbed in Tamil). It has just initiated a school contact programme that will seek to benefit underprivileged children wherein it has roped in Norway-based entertainer and cartoonist Einstein Kristiansen, who will interact with school children and teach them to use local material for craft. There will be a painting contest and the best of these will be auctioned with the money benefiting children from deprived homes.
So, is there a happy ever after? Maybe not; according to Karthik Lakshminarayan, coo, Madison Media Infinity: "No doubt Chutti TV has gained the #1 slot (amongst kids channels) in Tamil Nadu within a short time span, but going forward the challenge for it would be to appeal to children from different socio-economic backgrounds. There are many English-speaking homes within the Tamil Nadu market and it should be able to tap into such segments, which is where its real power will vest," he says. But Sun TV Network has its agenda clear: "We are looking at growth first within the regional market and will look at other markets like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka by launching this channel in other regional languages of the south," says Saxena.