The not-so-chhota success of Chhota Bheem
By Tuhina Anand
Chhota Bheem, the nine-year old boy and his small group of friends – Raju, Chutki and Jaggu (the talking monkey), have been having a dream run on Pogo. Launched in 2008 on the channel, the character of Chhota Bheem has gone on to become immensely popular and we have seen the character move to the bigger screen with Chhota Bheem movie and there is no dearth of merchandise based on his character, including comic book, tee-shirt, fun puzzles, bags, bean bag, toys and more.
Talking about the popularity of the show, Krishna Desai, Director Content, Turner International India Pvt. Ltd, said: “Since its launch in 2008 on Pogo, Chhota Bheem became an overnight success. Today, Chhota Bheem holds several titles to its credit including being ‘Kids’ Favourite TV Character’ (Ormax Media 2011 Report). In addition to other popular shows like Mr Bean and Kumbh Karan, Chhota Bheem has helped Pogo sustain its No 1 since 2011. In fact, this year, the premieres of ‘Chhota Bheem: Dholakpur to Kathmandu’ movie in March and ‘Chhota Bheem aur Hanuman’ movie in May, were the number 1 programs across all channels.” (Source: TAM, All India , 4-14 yrs, 12:00-13:30, March 25 and May 1, 2012)
However, TAM data for the period of April 15-May 12 (CS 4-14 yrs, all India market, excluding feature films shown on kiddie channels) shows that for the channel share, one sees a fluctuation between Pogo and Disney for the top slot where in week 18, Pogo has a share of 25.5 as opposed to 20.4 of Disney. In week 19, Pogo is at 21.2 while Disney has jumped to 24.6.
Giving his take on the popularity of Chhota Bheem and Doraemon, Karthik Lakshminarayan, COO, Crest (Madison Media), said: “Be it Chhota Bheem or Doraemon, both are exceedingly popular in the kids genre. Even for the top slot there is a tussle between both the shows. The popularity works well for the advertisers as well as the channel. However, if one were to look at superior production quality then Chhota Bheem scores over Doraemon as the latter seems dated.”
While Doraemon might seem dated, there is no lacking in its popularity. The show runs on Disney as well as Hungama almost round the clock. Same is the case with Pogo, where Chhota Bheem and its repeats are shown numerous times during the day. Mr Desai, talking about this strategy said: “Normally, most shows face the issue of fatigue over a period of time. But in the cases of popular shows like Chhota Bheem, this factor is not applicable. When any show is launched there is a novelty factor which draws in new audiences. Thereafter, the true test of success begins. If kids like the show, they will tune in to watch their favourite episode over and over again. Over a period of time, kids tune-in to pre-empt the dialogues or even sing along with the theme song, making them feel like a part of the toon world. Also, the non-sequential flow of episodes helps to steer clear of boredom.”
“Being a pioneer in the kids’ genre, we have done in-depth studies analysing the viewing patterns of kids between the ages of 4-14 years so as to effectively target our core TG. Basis these studies we decide the schedule for our channels. The second factor taken into consideration is to ensure that the scheduling of both our channels (Cartoon Network and Pogo) complement each other and don’t eat into each others share. We also consider the competition and other TV genres scheduling while lining up our shows,” he added.
Some of the other popular shows on Kids channel include Kumbh Karan on Pogo, Roll No 21 on Cartoon Network, the Suite Life of Karan and Kabir on Disney, Art Attack again on Disney, Ninja Hattori on Nick, Oggy and the Cockroaches on Nick, Mr Bean the Animated Series on Pogo and Tom and Jerry Show on Cartoon Network.
However, the success of Bheem lies in the fact that it’s an indigenous animated series created by Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd, based in Hyderabad. As Mr Desai of Pogo pointed that what stands out about the series is the strong story and characters. Although it is based in the mythical and timeless village of ‘Dholakpur’, the characters are very relevant to the mannerisms of kids today. Thus, kids relate to the characters and aspire to be like them be it a superhero or a best friend. “Yes, we did anticipate the show to do well but we all have been happily surprised at how phenomenally well it is doing,” said Mr Desai.
With the success of Chhota Bheem, came its movies that Pogo co-produced, the recent one being Chhota Bheem and the curse of Damyaan which was released last Friday.
Some of these movies were aired in 2011 on Pogo and the channel has a more aggressive strategy for them in 2012, wherein they will showcase one new movie every alternate month. In March, Pogo aired ‘Chhota Bheem: Dholakpur to Kathmandu’ and in May premiered ‘Chhota Bheem aur Hanuman’.
Also seeing the popularity of other supporting characters in the show, like Bheem’s best friend Raju, Pogo create a successful spin-off movie on him called ‘Mighty Raju’ in 2011. Sequels to Mighty Raju will also be seen in 2012. Its online success can be gauged from the fact that on www.pogo.tv, there are 700+ games on the site out of which Chhota Bheem enjoys a majority.