Four years, and 154 videos later, a children's edutainment channel has become the world's fastest-growing channel of its kind on YouTube
A screen grab of Johny Johny Yes Papa on ChuChu TV, that is now among the 40 videos on YouTube to have crossed 1 billion views
Even as content on children's entertainment and education continues to mushroom all over the Internet, YouTube channel ChuChu TV has managed to become the fastest-growing channel of its kind, in the world, in four years. With 10 million subscribers (as of June 17), ChuChu TV is the third-largest YouTube channel in India, trumping the likes of AIB and TVF, among several other homegrown social media video giants.
The journey, however, had a non-strategic start. It was back in 2013, when Vinoth Chandar, co-founder and CEO, uploaded a video on YouTube that he had made for his daughter, Harshitha. "She's called Chuchu at home. I created a video titled Chubby Cheeks, with an animated girl that looked like her, which she loved. I uploaded it on YouTube under the name 'ChuChu TV' on a lark," Chandar says. The video went on to score 300,000 views in a few weeks. He followed it up with another video, Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars. "That, too, saw some dramatic numbers. And suddenly, with just two videos, we had 5,000 subscribers in two months." From then to now, the channel has recorded 14 billion views in four years, with just 154 videos.
Until ChuChu TV came into being, Chandar, who started out in the software business with childhood friends, was immersed in apps, games and ringtones. "After we realised that we were off to a good start with the channel, we got more interested in children's edutainment, through animation. With the help of experts, we have managed to develop content and style that is uniquely Indian in spirit and aesthetics, but is adored the world over." Their viewership spans 175 countries, the largest numbers coming from the US, followed by India, Philippines, Vietnam and UK.
While things were working out for them right from the start, it was after the Johny Johny Yes Papa (a spin on the original rhyme) video, that Chandar realised they were in it for the long haul. "That video now has 1.1 billion views, making it one among the 40 videos to ever cross the 1 billion mark on YouTube. I realised that what we were creating was engaging people. Smart phones were taking over our lives and the Internet was not just limited to offices any longer, but entering our homes too in a big way. Consumption of entertainment was shifting from TV to portable screens. While there was a lot of content for older audiences, pre-school and toddlers were not seeing specialised content. Even within the space of nursery rhymes, which we started out with, we were different — we didn't want to use the rhymes as they were. We decided to re-write the lyrics and give them a positive spin. Parents loved what they were seeing and wanted their kids to see it too. That is how we found our niche."
Speaking of three things that should be avoided while creating content for children, Chander says, "Stay away from violence, monotony, and too many dialogues." While they look up to cult creators like Walt Disney and DreamWorks, the real inspiration, Chandar says, comes from talking to "our own kids".
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