Special Report: NATPE – Girls’ Shows A New Attraction, But Boys Still Set The Trends

While all admit aiming more programming at girls is an admirable goal, most are unwilling to fight what their studies show: girls will watch 'boys' shows' but boys will not watch 'girls' shows.' A few, though, have noticed that the neglect...
January 1, 1996

While all admit aiming more programming at girls is an admirable goal, most are unwilling to fight what their studies show: girls will watch ‘boys’ shows’ but boys will not watch ‘girls’ shows.’ A few, though, have noticed that the neglect in this area has left a wide opening in potential toy merchandising aimed at girls and have leaped at the opportunities. Others claim to have walked away from the whole issue of gender.

Sally Bell, Executive Vice president, Claster Television

‘Look at the ratings on what we call the female-oriented shows. We see that the demand is more in the minds of the producers than in the minds of the kids. . . . It’s a real fallacy to think that [programming to girls] is going to be an easy thing to do if you’re going for high ratings. We’re not seeing it work. Every one can talk about going for the girl demo. Show me the success.’

John Hess, Senior Vice president, Bohbot Entertainment

‘There was a glut of program suppliers targeting young girls last year. A lot of it had to do with licensing and merchandising. There’s a lack of these types of programs for people [licensers and merchandisers] wanting to target young girls.’

Carol Monr’e, Hearst Animation Productions

‘I think that everyone will immediately say they’re interested in doing girls’ shows, but I don’t see a lot of girls’ shows on the air. . . . Everybody is trying to develop it [an approach to attract young girl viewers] and nobody has found it yet. I think in the past what people thought of as girls’ shows have simply been very young shows. Rainbow Bright and My Little Pony-type of shows. While they were girls’ shows they were really young shows that little boys also watched. What no one has done – and I don’t know the reason – is make a girls’ show for girls who are eight or nine years old. That is what people would love to find a way to do. Find someone who is brave enough to put it on the air and take the chance.’

Marc du Pontavice, Gaumont Multimedia

‘We always try to go back to something that everyone liked. I think from a broadcaster’s point of view they look to buy something that has a title that is recognizable to parents. But it will last like the other trends, one to two years.’

Bob Siegal, DIC Entertainment

‘The context always was that a girls’ show was something that didn’t involve an action or adventure storyline. It was basically a dress-up life adventure story. I think what we’ve seen with Sailor Moon is that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have a girl heroine that fights the bad guys. . . . We’ve seen that the idea that girls like to see female heroines d’esn’t really hold up even though the majority of our audience is female we have a lot of boys watching. If it’s got action and excitement they both watch it.’

Peter Schmid, Saban Entertainment

‘We found through our research and focus groups that little girls share the TV set with their brothers and it’s the brothers that dictate what they are going to watch. We decided that there was a need for little girl programming and that’s what led us to do Tenko.’

Brian Lacey, 4 Kids Productions

‘Why produce just a girls’ show? By doing that you reduce your audience by half.’

Michael Hirsh, Chairman, Nelvana Limited

‘I think those [girls' programs] are still the hardest shows to sell. If you look at TV commercials, the great preponderance of them aimed at kids are for boys’ toys. Therefore, the boy demographic is worth more to the broadcaster. . . . On the boys’ side, people are constantly trying to launch new action adventure lines. Usually there are several successful ones but even so, the successful ones usually don’t last as long as Barbie. About eight years ago, boys were just as likely to watch shows that were directed more at girls. But for some reason, the viewing trend has changed. Eight years ago, girls would absolutely not watch a hard show that was aimed at boys. Now that’s reversed. Girls will watch Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but boys absolutely will not watch a show aimed at girls. When you have a girl-oriented show you don’t end up with a mixed audience. With a boy-oriented show you do.’

Russ Barry, Turner Program Services

‘In The New Adventures of Captain Planet there are young female planeteers, just like there are power rangers who are girls. I think that’s probably the way you try to cross over, as opposed to trying to create something that is just girls’-oriented. In thinking about it I don’t know of too many [strictly girls' shows].’

Anthony Gentile, Abrams/Gentile Entertainment

‘I hate to categorize a show as a boys’ or girls’ show. You say you have a girls’ show to any of the syndicators and the first thing they say is that there is no room for girls’ shows on the air. . . . What the syndicators tell us is that girls will watch a boys’ show but boys, if they know it’s a girls’ show, will not watch it. Girls will watch Power Rangers but boys will not watch Princess Gwenevere. Skydancers is a girls’ toy, but the show has none of the trademarks of being a girls’ show unless you say that the number of girl skydancers outweighs the number of boy skydancers two-to-one. If you’re going to call this a girls’ show, OK, call it a girls show. But it really isn’t. Every script we have written . . . the music . . . the entire design of the stories . . . has nothing to do with gender.’

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