Indian Kids Channel Sony YAY! Reveals Local-Focused Original Animation Production Strategy (EXCLUSIVE)

Indian kids channel Sony YAY! has revealed a renewed push into the local animation space with four new titles.

While the pay-TV channel has tasted success in recent months with “Taarak Mehta Kka Chhota Chashmah,” an animated show based on popular Hindi-language sitcom “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah,” most of the programming hitherto revolved around dubbed Indian-language versions of international hit properties including “Oggy and the Cockroaches,” “Oscar’s Oasis,” “Horrid Henry,” “Harry & Bunnie,” “Robotan,” “Naruto” and “The Owl & Co.”

That model is set to change with the 2023 rollouts of four flagship shows. “Karna: The Guardian” (12 x 22′) is a fresh take on the story of the character Karna from Indian epic “Mahabharata” that aims to be an amalgamation of science and mythology. It will combine anime elements with Bollywood style. Sony YAY! is in advanced negotiations with a Japanese company to co-produce. There are plans for a 360 degree universe around the property with a PlayStation game under discussion as well.

There are two seasons (26 x 22′) planned across 2023 and 2024 for “C.I.D. Squad,” an animated take on long-running live-action police procedural “C.I.D.” It will follow a lead detective who works in the crime investigation department of the police force who is aided by three curious teenagers as they tackle complex cases. The show is being made in a graphic novel style and is a fast-paced thriller.

“Maya & the Magic Makeup Box” (13 x 22′) is billed as a teenage girl’s voyage of self-discovery. It follows 16-year-old girl Maya, an average, unnoticed and under-confident girl in middle school who finds a magical make-up box and starts using it to find a welcome change in her world.

Learning-based show “Young Aviators” (10 x 22′) will introduce children to the science of flying through interactive new fly-missions in every episode.

Formerly known as Animax India, Sony YAY! was rebranded some five years ago and is now is in a leadership space alongside Disney’s bouquet of kids’ channels, the Nickelodeon channels and the Warner Bros. Discovery children-focused channels, with a reach of 55 million, Leena Lele Dutta, business head, Sony YAY!, told Variety.

Sony YAY!’s content is currently dubbed into the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali languages. The key learning for the channel during COVID-19 lockdowns was the return of communal family viewing, and the focus of these flagship shows is to create content that the family can watch together, Dutta said.

“At this point in time, we are pivoting into doing original programming and in animation for adults even. So that is the programming that we will speak about to an age group of 16 plus, with concepts and characters, which are more universal with possibly kids plus family, or young adults or even full families,” Dutta said.

The original programming being produced will not automatically land on Sony YAY! or sister service, streamer SonyLIV. They will be available to purchase by the highest bidder in India’s fiercely competitive streaming space, a practice similar to Sony Pictures Entertainment’s policy globally, Dutta said.

For its next phase of development Sony YAY! is going deep into India’s heartlands to find and tell the countless untold stories, beginning with the often-neglected Northeast of the country, which has a rich history of folk tales.

“We want these very differentiated ideas, which make beautiful animation and visuals that lends itself to being very Indian,” Dutta said.

Once the core Indian market has been catered to, the plan is to look at making the originals available to Asia and the rest of the world in localized versions as animation lends itself easily to dubbing.

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