Sony YAY! Programming Head Talks Naruto, Anime’s Growth in India, Channel’s Future Plans



The hit anime show Naruto came back on Indian television when Sony YAY! started airing the series from August 15.

The channel has been promoting the series heavily, as we spotted advertisements on digital billboards on Mumbai streets promoting Naruto’s telecast on Indian TV. It even got Indian actors Aayush Sharma and Esha Deol for promotions.

The anime fanbase in India is seeing rapid growth with more content coming in the country from avenues such as streaming platforms and television. Animax India was the only channel in the country that broadcasted anime content round the clock. In April 2017, Sony Pictures Entertainment launched Sony YAY!, which aired original Indian animated series. But now, Sony YAY! is looking to introduce anime as well to their young viewers.

We spoke with Sony YAY!’s head of programming, Ronojoy Chakraborty, to learn more about the channel’s plans for bringing such content to Indian television.

I would like to start by asking why Sony YAY! chose Naruto, which is a series aimed at teenagers when other content on the channel is kids-centric? Is the channel looking to move to a different demographic?

We are not moving away from any demographic. Naruto is one of the most popular anime series in the world. It is all-inclusive. Kids also watch it. So, we cater to 2-14 [demographic], as you know, like any other kids’ channel. We want to expand Naruto’s base to that fanbase as well because although Naruto has a very specific anime fanbase in India, we want to take it on our channel and expand this to our audiences as well.

Finally, Naruto is a great story, right? So, viewers in India don’t watch it because it’s an anime, per se. I mean, anime is one genre by which certain stories are told. But Naruto will be viewed for its great story by our audiences. I mean that’s the idea behind airing Naruto on our channel. I think it’s going to expand its audience behind the specific anime fanbase.

Are there also plans to broadcast Naruto movies on the channel? Because there are nearly a dozen movies that tie in with the Naruto show. Do you think it is possible to see them on Sony YAY! as well down the line?

We will watch how the response is and we will definitely have more of such content. So I can’t say whether we will have the movies or not, but definitely, we will have more of such content on our channel.

Naruto is dubbed in five regional languages on Sony YAY! and that is bound to increase the show’s reach in the country. Is there any possibility of dubbing in even more languages later?

So we have actually dubbed shows in other regional languages as well, beyond the regular five which you are speaking of. So yes, our objective remains to take whichever program we launch on the channel to all the regional markets. We have dubbed shows in Bengali, Marathi, and the four South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. What we do in dubbing is that we don’t just translate it. We adapt it for those local cultures and languages. So it actually goes beyond dubbing or translation. But it is kind of a storytelling in that particular regional language.

So yes, of course, that remains a priority for all the programs that we launch and Naruto is also one of them. We launched it in as many regional feeds as possible right from the beginning.

Apart from Naruto, Sony YAY! also airs anime like Robotan and Obocchama-kun. Are there any plans to bring other legacy anime which are popular in India like One Piece or the Dragon Ball series to the channel?

Japanese content has been running on Indian channels for a long, long period of time. Even Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan are Japanese content, and so are Obocchama-kun and Robotan, which are doing well for our channel.

I won’t say we have made any specific effort of getting anime content per se, but our effort is to bring good stories to India. That is the objective with which we have acquired content and that remains the priority and objective.

So yes, replying to your question, Obocchama-kun is a Japanese show, but it has great storytelling as well, it has done well for our audiences, and so has Robotan, and I am hoping that Naruto is also going to do well. So looking at the future, yes, we will have more such content on our channel.


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