Magazine article Screen International

Ventana Sur: Industry Address Evolving Children's Market

Magazine article Screen International

Ventana Sur: Industry Address Evolving Children's Market

Article excerpt

Natalie Altmann, founder of French producer Media Valley, explained during a session on global trends in the children's series market that the proliferation of new platforms had fundamentally changed the way the sector operates.

"There is a structural and financial crisis that our industry has gone through," Altmann said. "Kids don't access content in the same way they used to - they have access through apps, iPad and game consoles, which has led to audience fragmentation."

"It's caused generalist channels to disengage from kids content," she added, noting that advertising revenue from children's networks had plummeted since the 2008 economic crash and was no longer considered a value proposition by some companies.

Altmann noted that tablet adoption among children had doubled in the UK in the last two years, while smartphone ownership had doubled in the last five.

'Tablets are made for kids'

To that point, former Cartoon Network executive Heather Kennyon now of US-based Citizen Skull Productions said, "Tablets are made for kids. They're small, they can be held close... you don't have to share it with your little brother."

These recent, well documented shifts in media consumption had led to an erosion in what Kennyon called channel identity.

"You have to have your show on Netflix but that can be [viewed] on the tablet. Now they're not watching you channel where you sell the next hit."

Netflix has relied on branded content as a way of standing out on the streaming service's home page, but Kennyon said the online giant was aggressively moving into original content, as it has been doing in TV and features for grown-ups.

As a result the networks have been greenlighting original material faster than ever to avoid missing out, where once they could take up to a year to agree to buy content.

Production has increased and the rate of production has accelerated, Kennyon said. Nowhere was this more evident than on YouTube, which she described as "the monster." Yet original content on that platform is inevitably built around a YouTube celebrity.

Networks retain power through brand ties

Because established networks like Disney Junior and Nick Jr work with known brands, they remain powerful players in the merchandising business and command the lion's share of shelf space on toy retail giants Walmart, Toys "R" Us and Target.

"If you have a pre-school show, Disney Jr and Nick Jr are the Holy Grail," Kennyon said. "These guys still have merchandising tie-ins - not so much Amazon and Netflix properties yet. …

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