×

Pop go the platforms

Variety Junior 2011

With children as young as 2 increasingly exposed to digital media via Mommy’s smartphone or Daddy’s laptop, digital platforms once considered alternative have become essential branding tools for content aimed at moppets.

While some properties have vaulted from a small digital presence to mainstream entertainment success, the linear TV show remains — for now — the key driving piece of the puzzle, even as the relationships between new and traditional platforms grow ever more complicated.

Both large and small producers of children’s shows put great importance on having a presence on all the relevant platforms, from smartphones and the Web to the new breed of tablet computers. Executives are unequivocal in touting the benefits of their audience — and their audience’s parents — being able to connect in some way with their brands wherever and whenever they like.

Viacom, owner of the Nick brand that includes such huge hits as “Dora the Explorer” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” adopts what it calls a 360-degree experience for each of its shows, says Philip O’Ferrall, senior VP of digital media for Viacom International Media Networks.

Most shows begin life in any given territory with some kind of online footprint established in advance. The company offers simple apps, games and online video, as well as educational e-books for younger demos and social media and massive multiplayer online games for older ones.

These platforms’ value is in keeping the brand and audience connected as much as possible, extending the amount of time spent with the brand and driving viewers back to the linear TV experience.

“There’s no question that continuing to live with the brand whilst not with the TV set is a great thing,” O’Ferrall says.

Trying to turn something into a profitable worldwide property without a TV presence is possible, though it remains exceedingly difficult in all children’s demos, in all territories.

Children don’t go on the Internet to search and find content,” says Nuno Bernardo, co-founder and CEO of transmedia company beActive. “They go to places they already know, so it’s very difficult to promote and to connect with them on the Internet if you are not an established brand.”

Bernardo’s company established an online exclusive show called “Sofia’s Diary” that has since crossed over into TV and has now been adapted in more than 10 territories and sold more than a million books. He says that while new platforms are growing in popularity with kids, a good TV show remains essential.

TV is still a key media, because it creates exposure and establishes credibility for your brand,” he says. “Having a global online strategy associated with your TV program also allows producers to be less dependent on broadcasters and the best broadcast slots.”

Digital platforms also have a nimble quality that allows for a kind of grass-root marketing to pay off in ways it wouldn’t for the mass medium of TV.

Maria Doolan, managing director of brand and business development for Madrid-based Zinkia Entertainment, says the company’s aggressive digital platform strategy for preschooler property “Pocoyo” paid off in some unusual ways.

“The show started becoming popular in targets that we hadn’t previously expected would be consuming the show, basically teens and young adults,” says Doolan. “We had a promotion in France for example, with a healthcare company which was only very regional and very small, and honestly after we approved it we didn’t think much more of it. And when the promotion came out, I had the digital guys come to me and ask ‘What on Earth is going on in France?’ because all of a sudden we have thousands of people tuning in and watching.”

Pocoyo” was a pioneer in using platforms to maximum effect, and the show was designed with simple, clear images and shorter running times that would work well on TV as well as on smartphones, laptops and other platforms.

But again, Doolan says none of the digital strategies would have worked if the show itself were no good.

“If you don’t get the show right, there’s nothing to do after that,” she says.

That isn’t stopping people from experimenting. O’Ferrall cites “House of Anubis,” which debuted as an online project and is now a Nick series, and “Monkey Quest,” a popular game-driven Nick property that for now remains online only.

But no one expects TV to lose its crown as king of the kid hill anytime soon for the simple reason that TV has a tried and true economic model that the Internet and digital platforms still lack.

“The costs of producing quality programming and quality content today are not being reduced drastically enough yet to be able to launch something properly if it’s not via television or without television support,” says Doolan.

“It’s really important, I think, to engage with the audience where they are and at whatever time we can, and that often isn’t linear,” says O’Ferrall. “But ultimately, the big numbers always tend to be around the linear experience.”

VARIETY JUNIOR
Blasts from past power int’l kids sales | Books and toys aren’t fail-safe TV fodder | Kids animation making bigger international play | Toons in transition | Pop go the platforms | Disney Junior acing frosh year | DQE seizes opportunity

in Indian animation biz | Shingle dabbles in ‘Baby’ babble | Argentina teen fare evolves in post-Cris Morena era

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Tycho weather app

    This Website Creates Spotify & Apple Music Playlists Based on Your Local Weather

    Electronica musician Tycho launched a clever promotional website for his new album “Weather” this week: Visitors of Tycho’s website can use a web app to generate a playlist based on their local weather. Playlists can be saved to both Spotify and Apple Music, and consist of 25 songs, both from Tycho’s catalog as well as [...]

  • AT&T TV

    AT&T TV: An Unskinny Streaming Bundle That Looks a Lot Like Traditional Pay TV

    AT&T this week launched AT&T TV, a new subscription streaming television service that uses an Android-based internet set-top, in 10 markets. But the way it’s priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn’t targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It’s basically designed as a way [...]

  • Sofia Wylie arrives at Variety's Power

    Disney Channel Enlists Duplass Brothers for YouTube Hip-Hop Dance Series Starring Sofia Wylie

    Disney Channel’s first original scripted series made exclusively for release on YouTube is “Shook,” a hip-hop dance short-form series starring Sofia Wylie, produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. “Shook” will debut Saturday, Sept. 28, on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel. The scripted single-camera show centers on 15-year-old Mia (Wylie), who yearns to dance professionally but [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Is Getting Rid of Messaging Feature

    YouTube is killing off a feature that allowed users to share videos and other messages with each other. YouTube Messages, which was first introduced in January of 2017, will be turned off by September 18, the company announced this week. “We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature [...]

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content