Looking to cash in on the growing popularity of characters from the Marvel universe like Ironman, Thor, and Captain America, Disney Broadcasting India is launching a new channel Marvel HQ on 20th January.
The idea behind launching Marvel HQ is to create a TV destination for Marvel fans in India. Targeted at 9+ age-group, the channel aims to cater to the entire family.
Disney India executive director, head product media networks Devika Prabhu said that the aim is to be the first window to the Super Hero, the action-filled world of Marvel.
Marvel HQ will have action and adventure content in animation and live-action formats. Initially, 40% of the content will come from Marvel library which will be progressively scaled up. While the content will be action and adventure stories, it will also have humour to set the tone and balance the intensity.
“There is a need to have a home for it. The opportunity and timing are right to have a Marvel-branded channel. We will cater to people who want to see, know more about Marvel. The storytelling is so nuanced that this channel gives us the opportunity to break it down for our viewers. We can do things like trivia, backstories just to create the whole experience. We will showcase Marvel content in multiple languages which is unique,” Prabhu said during an interaction with the media.
The Marvel content will include animated Marvel shows like Hulk And The Agents Of Smash, Avengers Assemble and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Apart from Marvel content, the channel will also have Disney animated shows that aim to complement the Marvel line-up like Big Hero 6, Pokémon and Beyblade. The focus for the Summer kickstarting in March will be tentpole properties like Black Panther’s Quest and Rising Secret Warriors.
“Television as a platform is very inclusive. It allows everybody to have exposure to it. The aim is to create that first window, experience for a Marvel fan. We wanted to create a curated Marvel experience on television. In India, Marvel has really become a pop culture phenomenon. The popularity, affinity over the past decade has really been growing. It transcends age groups, geographies, cities,” Prabhu stated.
Prabhu further stated that the Marvel legacy stems from comic books and this has historically been everyone’s first touchpoint into the Marvel universe. “For a lot of Indian viewers, it is through the movies and series. Every day five Marvel movies air on Indian television. The storytelling is epic for many reasons. Marvel movies are about experiences. People plan months in advance to experience them. We are celebrating the 10th year of the Marvel cinematic universe. IRONMAN was released back in 2008. Each hero feeds not only into his/her story but is seen elsewhere as well.”
She noted that saturation of Marvel content is not an issue. “The thing about Marvel storytelling and why it works in this whole interconnected way is because it gives new viewers an opportunity to come to the story. Everybody has not seen everything. When you watch something that has been curated for you then you enjoy the experience more.”
Prabhu also averred that Marvel characters are very high on recall. “The most popular ones are those who form the core team of the Avengers. They have been seen for many years and they have their own standalone movies. The most popular ones would be Ironman, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Spiderman. For many of us, Spiderman was the first Marvel superhero that we grew up with.”
She noted that the choice between live action and animation is not important for a viewer who is more concerned about the story. So, Spiderman is both live action and animation. “People want to see more stories with their favourite characters. None of my interactions with viewers has seen genre coming up.”
She said that kids like to be surprised. They want to see new concepts and a lot of things that are unexpected that play with today’s technology. At the same time, they want content that is grounded in a world that they understand.
“They also need aspirational characters, someone to look up to whether it is a two-year-old or a 14-year-old. They want someone to emulate. Children role play with games. They need characters that they can connect with. So, one sees girls with Black Widow,” Prabhu stated.