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‘One Piece,’ ‘My Hero Academia,’ ‘Chhota Bheem,’ ‘Jai Jagannath’ in the Mix as Warner Bros. Discovery South Asia Unveils Kids Summer Slate and Strategy (EXCLUSIVE)

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Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) South Asia has a sizzling summer slate lined up in the kids space including a mix of anime and homegrown IP.

Launching on the Indian animation-focused Pogo channel in May is new Indian IP “Jay Jagannath.” The series portrays the friendship between the Hindu God Lord Jagannath, who has taken the form of a child, Jagan, and his devout follower Balaram. The stories follow their adventures, while also delving into folktales.

WBD has two immensely popular Indian IPs in “Chhota Bheem” and “Little Singham” who met in 2023 in the film “Aag Aur Pani Ki Takkar.” The sequel to that, “Aag Aur Pani Ka Badla,” is also due on Pogo. In addition, the channel has several films and mini-series featuring the individual characters coming up during the summer.

On WBD’s international animation-focused Cartoon Network, the summer programming features new Japanese anime arrivals “One Piece: Land of Wano” and “My Hero Academia” Season 4, new seasons of American animation “Teen Titans Go!” and new seasons of French animation “Grizzy and the Lemmings.” Over on Discovery Kids, there will be new seasons of India-Singapore animation “Titoo.” In all, there will be 200 premieres across the three kids’ channels, which are broadcast across India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“As a legacy global company we have a huge library of global content. And the Indian audience, which is also huge in number, gives us an opportunity to connect with them and cater to them with stories and characters which are very locally focused,” Uttam Pal Singh, head of the kids’ cluster, South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery, told Variety.

While some of the local IP has found global success, the focus is resolutely regional and to keep building that audience, Singh explains. “Localization is part of a very strong strategy to help us engage with kids. India is so diverse and some regions in India have a very strong affinity to their mother tongue. So, starting last year, we expanded our language base, which was only about three languages, but we expanded to four more. So, Pogo is now reaching out to kids in seven different languages and Cartoon Network reaches out to kids in in six Indian languages,” Singh said.

Anime is hugely popular across South Asia and WBD will continue acquiring programming in the genre, especially via its partnership with Toei Animation, whose “One Piece” and “Dragon Ball” are big successes for Cartoon Network. Singh said that local animation mainly caters to the 6-10 age-group with fewer choices for the pre-teens and above, and anime fills that need gap. Anime, which Singh says was once part of a “geeky subculture” in the region, has now found mass acceptance.

“From pre-teens, to teens, and also post that into 21 to 25 [age group], I think anime is able to cater to them and their requirements quite nicely. And I think that’s why it’s finding a very strong acceptance over here,” Singh said.

WBD recently unveiled plans to expand its anime production in Japan. While there are no immediate plans to create South Asian-themed anime in collaboration with Japanese studios, Singh said that WBD is listening to their audience via social media. “They want to be connected and served with animation, which are global blockbusters already, so we are in the phase of offering them to this first, and maybe in time we’ll look into that opportunity of creating unique stories with Indian characters and collaborating with Japanese studios,” Singh said.