DreamDTH Explains: A guide to kids’ and educational channels in India

This is an in-depth dive into Indian TV channels for the littlest viewers, with both big broadcasters like WBD, Disney Star and Viacom18 and smaller ones like ETV and the BBC having a strong presence.

Estimated reading time: 30 minutes, 47 seconds

Large kids’ broadcasters: Disney Star, WBD and Viacom18

Disney Star: operates several Disney- and Hungama-branded channels

Well before The Walt Disney Company acquired Star India in March 2019, Disney India had had a number of children’s channels: the flagship Disney Channel (launched 2004), Hungama (2004 by UTV, acquired by Disney 2006), Disney Junior (block: 2011, channel: 2012) and a fourth channel whose name changed from Jetix/Toon Disney (a timeshare when it was launched along with Disney Channel in 2004) to Disney XD to Marvel HQ and eventually Super Hungama. After Star became part of Disney, these and Disney India’s other channels — including Bindass and the UTV-branded channels — joined the bigger Star network, which rebranded to Disney Star a year ago, in April 2022. None of these channels have adopted the otherwise universal Star brand, and neither have the Nat Geo-, Fox- and Asianet-branded channels (which were always owned by Star), signifying these brands’ independence while belonging to the overall Disney Star family.

Meanwhile the Fox-owned Star India did not have any Indian kids’ channel of its own, but instead operated BabyTV, a European channel run by Fox Networks Group (now part of The Walt Disney Company) in both SD and HD versions whose shows were aimed at the holistic, cognitive development of infants, compared to the loud and crass equivalents on Indian kids’ channels. As mentioned, BabyTV SD was withdrawn from India in June 2019, though its HD version managed to last until March 2023, when Disney Channel HD — the broadcaster’s first Indian kids’ HD channel — replaced it, where Tata Play (LCN 657) is currently the only DTH to carry it. Though Hungama was also supposed to get an HD feed, it and the Bengali channel Jalsha Josh missed out, while the other long-deferred Disney Star channels were finally launched after years of delay.

Today, Disney Star’s children’s channels show a mix of Japanese cartoons — particularly Doraemon on Disney Channel, Shinchan on Hungama and Pokemon and Kiteretsu on Super Hungama — and Indian productions like Gadget Guru Ganesha, Twinkle Sharma 0007, Bapu, Selfie With Bajrangi and Dr. Tenali Rama. Often, some Western cartoons are also shown, including Disney franchises like Mickey Mouse and Phineas and Ferb, while the preschooler-oriented Disney Junior has only American shows (except Art Attack). Previously, until 2016, Disney Channel had a number of original live-action Indian productions like Best of Luck Nikki, Oye Jassie, The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir and Kya Mast Hai Life, as well as Indian non-fiction shows like Art Attack, but these were axed in favour of the above animation shows — even though Disney Channel and its new HD version do air some episodes of Best of Luck Nikki at times.

WBD: big presence through Pogo, Cartoon Network and Discovery Kids (previously Toonami)

The then-Turner India launched Cartoon Network back in 1995, making it the oldest kids’ channel in India. Cartoon Network has long had a greater emphasis on American cartoons than most other Indian kids’ channels, which are driven more by Indian and Japanese shows. These include Hanna-Barbera shows like Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones in the late 1990s and early 2000s; original shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo in the 2000s; and later assorted shows from various countries in the 2010s and beyond, ranging from Oggy and the Cockroaches (France) to Dragon Ball Z/Dragon Ball Super (Japan). It has, however, had some Indian original shows like Roll No 21 and the Kid Krrish film series, as well as Ekans: Ek Se Badhkar Snake recently. Its HD feed CN HD+, launched on 15 April 2018, has shows like We Bare Bears and Teen Titans Go!, and is available on Tata Play (LCN 666), Airtel Digital TV (LCN 452) and Sun Direct (LCN 969) among DTH operators.

Meanwhile, Pogo, Turner’s second kids’ channel that was launched on New Year’s Day 2004, initially had a diverse programming lineup, ranging from M.A.D. (which stands for Music, Art, Dance) to Doordarshan’s superhero series Shaktimaan to several live-action and animated series from India and the West (plus the Japanese Takeshi’s Castle, narrated by Jaaved Jaaferi) — as well as the Pogo Amazing Kids Awards until 2014. Since 2010, however, it has mostly been associated with Indian animation series, and Chhota Bheem in particular, which has become one of India’s longest-running animated shows, and a major franchise in its own right. Others like Mighty Raju have also risen to prominence at the then-WarnerMedia’s secondary kids’ channel, as well as Discovery Kids’ Little Singham more recently.

As far as other kids’ channels and blocks from the erstwhile WarnerMedia India are concerned, Pogo had a preschoolers’ block named Tiny TV in the 2000s which showed Oswald, Pingu, Barney, Noddy and other Western cartoons. However, Cartoon Network’s other blocks internationally, like Cartoonito, Boomerang and Adult Swim, have either never been launched in India or did not last for a long time. Though there was talk that Cartoon Network India would launch its Cartoonito block for preschoolers during its ‘Redraw Your World’ rebrand in March 2022, this did not come to fruition. Previously there was also the Toonami channel for Japanese anime — originally launched in 2015 as a block, and converted into a standalone channel in 2017 — but it was shuttered in May 2018, a year after the competing Animax from Sony Pictures Networks was replaced by Sony YAY! in April 2017, as explained later.

Since WarnerMedia’s Indian portfolio had severely shrunk with the closure of the HBO and WB channels in 2020 — in addition to several other English movie channels over the years — leaving only these kids’ channels and CNN, the merger with Discovery was a much-needed shot in the arm for the broadcaster’s fortunes in the country, as Discovery had far more Indian channels than WarnerMedia. With the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, the latter’s Discovery Kids channel (launched in 2012) is now part of the larger WBD portfolio in India, joining Pogo and Cartoon Network as the kids’ channels of the broadcaster. It has mostly been associated with Indian productions like Bablu Dablu, Bandbudh Aur Budbak (acquired from the now-defunct ZeeQ), Roll No 21 (originally from Cartoon Network) and Little Singham (which is now also aired on sister channel Pogo) since its launch a decade ago.

Viacom18: Nickelodeon and its sister channels

Unlike Disney Star and WBD, which use different brands for their kids’ channels, the Reliance Industries-owned Viacom18 has always concentrated its children’s channels under the Nickelodeon (Nick) brand. It too is one of the longest-standing players in the Indian kids’ genre: the master Nick channel was launched back in 1999, under the then-MTV Networks India — well before Viacom18 was created in 2007 — making it the second-oldest surviving children’s channel after Cartoon Network. In December 2015, Nick became the first Indian kids’ channel to launch an HD feed, Nick HD+, which is available on all pay DTH platforms except Sun Direct, though the latter has Cartoon Network HD+ instead. Unlike the newly-launched Disney Channel HD, which is a simulcast of the SD version, Nick HD+ differs greatly from its SD feed in that it shows only international productions compared to the Indian animation shows on the latter.

Besides, Viacom18 has two other children’s channels: Nickelodeon Sonic (originally Sonic Nickelodeon) was launched in December 2011 and initially focused on action-heavy cartoons preferred by boys, but later morphed into a generic kids’ channel. Meanwhile Nick Jr. for preschoolers was launched in November 2012 — at the same time as the erstwhile ZeeQ and a month after its competitor Disney Junior — and it was initially a timeshare with TeenNick, which aired in the evenings. However, on 1 February 2017, TeenNick was discontinued — the same day that ZeeQ was axed by Zee — and Nick Jr. became a full-time preschoolers’ channel. In addition, it may also be mentioned that Greycells18 — a division of the original Network18 that was formed before the 2014 acquisition by Reliance (and hence not part of Viacom18 per se) — operates the Topper TV educational channel, as elaborated on Page 4.

Like Disney Channel and Hungama, Nick and Sonic have a mixture of Indian productions like Motu Patlu and Pakdam Pakdai — which are as synonymous with Nick as Chhota Bheem is with Pogo — along with Japanese cartoons like Ninja Hattori and Power Rangers, and a few Western ones. Nick also hosts an Indian version of the annual Nick Kids’ Choice Awards. However, Nick HD+, as mentioned above, is markedly different from the SD feed as it has mainly Western shows like Dora and Friends, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Penguins of Madagascar and SpongeBob SquarePants — and even teen shows like iCarly and WITS Academy which are not otherwise aired on the SD channel, as well as the original American version of the Nick Kids’ Choice Awards. This makes it slightly similar to Disney International HD (which is technically an English GEC and not a kids’ channel) in that regard.

Having talked about the three biggest kids’ broadcasters in India on this page, we now move to other broadcasters in this segment on Page 3.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

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Avatar of Soham Bhadra
Soham Bhadra

Television Analyst

Soham is a Computer Science graduate from NTU, Singapore, with an active interest in the Indian TV and entertainment industry. He publishes articles and shares his insights primarily on the Indian TV industry and DTH operators. He has a passion for words and reflects that through his articles.

Forum replies (5)Comments (0)

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Inviting valuable comments from @iDJ, @dino29, @Prithi Deb and @Detective Conan bhai as you all have in-depth knowledge of kids’ channels. :smile2:

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Inviting valuable comments from @iDJ, @dino29, @Prithi Deb and @Detective Conan bhai as you all have in-depth knowledge of kids’ channels. :smile2:

@JollyLNB bro news article is written in nice informative manner and easy to understand overall kids channel history- ownership changes to present changes ,news and languages feed distinction and differences between network channels and newer channel launch impact on kids channel segment . it needs only few additions

Cartoon Network India-( earlier in 2005-2007 aired toonami block in India airing kids anime - Digimon adventures , pokemon , Transformers Armada , beyblade ) later removed toonami block started airing action heavy anime shows in night 2008 - 2009 - naruto S1 , s2 , bakugan s1 , capeta , ultimate muscle in afternoon - one piece then stopped after airing few episodes DBZ mentioned already,
2006- legend of snow white (old japenese animated series) , 2009/2010 cn started airing dragon ball prequel series of dbz in night then stopped , 2009 - kiba , blue dragon short series aired at night the stopped in between before completing .
2010 - started airing kids anime - inazuma eleven in weekends fridays evening and on weekends airing - digimon show . CN indias most popular - kids anime show 2003 -2010 till then they aired pokemon diamond and pearl

Pogo - used to air mix of intl shows they even used to air kids anime shows - 2008 when bheem was launched along with they also tried airing airing in afternoons - hagemaru , Mirmo de pon ( small tiny bot fairy companion - Mirmo - they only aired s1 to s2 mid , Anpanman , last year l. in 2010-2012/14- pokemon black and white , dp sinnoh league victors . last time pogo aired kids anime show yokai watch later stopped.

nick india - even nick earlier used to airkids anime - 2008-2009 - perman , maskman niyander kamen , Atashinchi , chibi maruko chan ( they reaired in 2010 /2011 then stopped airing abruptly may be due to motu patlu success.

sonic nicklodeon - earlier aired idaten jump , Zatchbell , ghosts in school , naruto spinoff -rock lee and and his pals

Hungama tv - 2006-2007 - yu gi oh , 2008 - ninja boy rantaro , kiteretsu , detective conan ( series) , 2009- genie family , 2010-2011 - little moonlight rider , 20006-2011/2012- kochikame later stopped airing

I understand it must have taken more time and effort in collecting , editing and formatting so many information in short manner

bro , my suggestion of additions are below , from above only add info if you think if feels necessary

1. small correction - subtitles are available on Animax ( in Jio TV android & ios app) only in jio set top box english subtitles are not available.
2. sony yay - also aired anime shows last year - Naruto and Seargeant keroro . currently replaced new season episode teaser promo is shown in ad of naruto in yay in between ads . they are also interested in bringing more anime shows in future

3 . earlier anime shows theme song - opening and ending - used to be dubbed in Indian languages in Hindi , Tamil or Telegu from English/Japanese irrespective of which kids channel aired Nick , CN , Disney , pogo or Hungama tv - nowadays it has become rare to see kids channel to dub the theme song of shows with proper lyrics.

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