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Kidvid on the upswing as Euros follow H’wood lead

TV ad revs up in major territories, niche services buy product

MADRID — Mipcom Jr. confirmed that the kids’ biz is on the road to recovery.

Attendance at the two-day mini-mart, held in Cannes at the beginning of the month, swelled 10% over 2003 to 772 participants. Buyers increased 10% to 474.

The turnaround taps similar market forces to Mipcom Jr.’s bigger brother Mipcom.

TV ad revs are up in major territories and there’s a plethora of niche services buying product — think France’s Piwi and Filles TV, Spain’s Superene, the BBC’s CBBC and Cbeebies, and rival Nickelodeon in the U.K.

Twinned with kids’ accelerated growth, those same market trends are shaping the shows being made in Europe.

In a far more competitive market, the major rival for tween and teen attention is more adult fare.

“Tween boys still watch dedicated kids programming but girls are now into programs seen by adults, even from a very early age,” says Fox Kids Germany program director Karols Bayr.

Nine of the 10 most- screened shows at Mipcom Jr. came from Europe (see chart). If these are anything to go by, Europe’s kids’ biz is taking its lead from Hollywood.

The Harry Potter-ish “W.I.T.C.H.” from Buena Vista Intl. TV has teen girls battling with homework, puppy love and world-threatening forces from the parallel kingdom of Meridian.

Three young kung fu heroes in Les Cartooneurs Associes’ Shaolin “Soccer Kids” high-kick demons’ ass.

In Futurikon’s natural world “Minuscule,” picturing CGI insects in live-footage rural habitats, a dinky 3-D ladybird is pursued through corn-stalks the size of tree trunks by a squadron of droning flies.

Some shows are precocious beyond their demos.

Set at a Canadian tennis academy, the live-action “15/Love” from France’s Marathon is billed as a coming-of-age drama. But teen tennis tyros hit more on each other than tennis balls.

Having far less at financial stake, fillers make for quirky family fare.

In “Bernard,” from Spain’s BRB Intl., a paunchy polar bear cheats at golf and prat-falls on a running machine.

Merging live footage and animation, the even briefer “1 Minute at a Museum,” from France’s AWOL, has three kids airing their streetwise views on the “Mona Lisa” or Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker.” It’s 60 seconds of pure delight.

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