Interview with Turner Ent. Asia Senior VP & GM, Soumitra Saha

By AMRITA VALECHA | 2 October, 2009 - 16:25

"We do not simply dub shows into the various regional languages, we trans-create them, meaning that the stories, names and dialogue of the characters are colloquial and culturally relevant. In effect, we are thinking local and acting regionally.'"

What are the new animation properties that Turner and its networks have launched in the past 2 years in Asia Pacific?
Part of our commitment at Turner is to keep our content as fresh and engaging as possible and in the past two years we have premiered a host of new animation properties that represent a solid mix of Cartoon Network Original productions, locally created content and international acquisitions. As leaders in the kids' entertainment space, we need to continually deliver on our promise of comedy, action and adventure as we seek to animate kids' lives. It's about staying a step ahead, knowing what kids love and then finding the properties that truly resonate with them.

Specifically, seven Cartoon Network Original (CNO) productions have premiered throughout the region including the global phenomena Ben 10 and Ben 10 Alien Force, Chowder, The Secret Saturdays and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. All of our CNOs reflect Cartoon Network's promise of comedy, action and adventure as we seek to animate kids' lives.

In addition, we premiered some inspiring, locally created work as a result of SNAPTOONS (Short New Asia Pacific Cartoons), which is the industry's biggest original content development initiative, first launched in 2006. During the premiere, Cartoon Network viewers got to experience the adventures of home grown (India) Kul-Veera (Graphiti Multimedia Pvt. Ltd); Johnny Goes to Bollywood (Famous House of Animation) and Sulochana (Miditech Pvt. Ltd). The three minisodes, co-created with Cartoon Network, displayed a quantum leap in animation styles giving the industry a fresh take on the action-packed world of cartoons.

Do you look at Asia Pacific as one seamless space or each of the regions in Asia Pacific is different as Animation content market?
Cartoon Network is a leading channel that engages viewers in almost 60 million homes 24 hours a day across the region. We recognize the importance of creating locally relevant content and much of our success has been developing a formula where our franchises can be maximized in the region and yet localized to reflect the humor, tastes and preferences of the diverse cultures. We do not simply dub shows into the various regional languages, we trans-create them, meaning that the stories, names and dialogue of the characters are colloquial and culturally relevant. In effect, we are thinking local and acting regionally.

What is the programming mix of the Asia Pacific in terms of specially created content v/s the existing content in your library?
Cartoon Network continues to keep an eye out for new content in Asia as there is a hotbed of talent emerging in the region. Our programming line up varies from market to market depending on viewer preference but generally we are a mix of Cartoon Network Original productions, key Japanese titles, international franchises, locally produced content and classic cartoons.

When it comes to acquiring/commissioning content, what is the process like?
Our approach to commissioning locally created content is to focus on the development process. We work hard on the foundation, test the waters and then build on the property. It is important to develop the content idea completely before moving forward.

When it comes to acquiring existing properties, we do not have the luxury of development, therefore we need to rely on primary data which is research based, or secondary data which is based on how well the genre is doing in the region, or how the show has performed in other parts of the world.

What is market share of CN in Asia Pacific?
Cartoon Network is the leader in the kids' entertainment space and has the highest reach in Asia. Our programs are enjoyed in 274 million homes across the region. We have eight feeds across the region in nine languages, which are more dedicated feeds than any other kids' channel:
Online at Cartoon Network we welcome an average of 3.4 million unique visitors and nearly 70 million page views per month. Cartoon Network is truly an entertainment destination for kids and families whether they are connecting with the brand via TV or online.

In terms of localization of content, do you have different teams in each of the regions in the Asia Pacific?
Cartoon Network is present in 26 markets in Asia Pacific and we are very sensitive to the diversity of cultures and entertainment habits in this region.

To ensure that our international content is locally relevant and compelling, we have several teams located in key cities throughout the Asia Pacific region. India remains an extremely important market for us and to ensure that Cartoon Network and POGO remain innovators in the kids' space, we have extensive operations in both Delhi and Mumbai. We also work with various animation and production houses in markets such as Malaysia, Korea and India to further support local creative talent and the development of fresh content.

In terms of marketing your channels and content, what have been the recent events and activities in Asia Pacific?
At any given second Cartoon Network is engaging with its friends in a myriad of ways across the Asia Pacific region - be it on air, online, in store or wirelessly. All of our marketing initiatives are designed to animate the lives of kids so that connecting with the Cartoon Network brand is exciting every time.

One example of this is our Toon Creator Awards that we launched in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard. This initiative encourages young animators to create a 25-second ending after viewing a five second mini-cliffhanger from either a Ben 10: Alien Force or Chowder episode.

Since its launch on June 30 at, over 100,000 new animations have been submitted online with page views totaling 3.2 million and over 530,000 unique users. Given the program's educational value in promoting creativity, we collaborated with many schools in the region to demonstrate how the Toon Creator platform worked. We were excited by the tremendous response to the initiative from both students and teachers alike as it shows a genuine interest in creative content, which is great for the future of our industry!

Anything else you would like to share on a parting note...
Cartoon Network is the number one cartoon destination in the region where comedy, action and adventure come together to animate kids' lives! The entertainment experience with Cartoon Network extends beyond TV to online, merchandise and mobile games. We are a truly immersive entertainment brand. Stay tooned for more fun from Cartoon Network !