Special Report: NATPE – The Trends

Producers are fighting to capture the attention of sophisticated kids....
January 1, 1996

Producers are fighting to capture the attention of sophisticated kids.

In the months leading up to the NATPE market – as programmers, producers and distributors were preparing their slate of shows- KidScreen surveyed a cross-section of people to get a sense of the latest trends in children’s programming. They talked about everything from the changing tastes of audiences to what they see ahead for the syndication market.

Across the board all agreed that children today are much more sophisticated, or perhaps even jaded, compared to decades past. The challenges faced in programming for these kids are enormous. This is hardly new, but now not only are television producers and programmers having to look over their shoulders at their direct competitors, they are also having to address competition from new media, computer games and the likes. Effects and graphics that were once the exclusive domain of computers or mega-budget films, are now expected by the ever-demanding child viewer.

Carol Monr’e, Senior Vice president, Hearst Animation Productions

‘I think children today are much more sophisticated. They have been exposed to a great deal more at a very early age and this is both good and bad: It makes them better consumers because they have a much more sophisticated eye and they know what they’re looking at, but unfortunately, they can be a little more jaded. The whole TV audience, I think, is less willing to give a show a chance than they were 20 years ago.’

Peter Schmid, Senior Vice president, Saban Entertainment

‘All you have to do is look at today’s animation for kids and compare it to what other generations were exposed to. There is such a dramatic difference. Kids have been spoiled by Disney, in a way. . . . When they see the likes of Beauty and The Beast and Pocahontis in the theater, they expect to see the same on their 19-inch television set. This certainly keeps us on our t’es.’

Anthony Gentile, Vice president, Abrams/ Gentile Entertainment

‘Can you fool kids anymore? I don’t think you can get away with it. . . . They are trained through the onslaught that hits them from all directions – from video games to television. They know how to program a VCR by age four. They have sophisticated tastes, no two ways about it.’

Brian Lacey, International Marketing, 4 Kids Productions

‘I think children are no different than adults. They are looking for entertainment. They are looking for diversity in their television entertainment, so a mix of animation and live action works well. But kids, especially in the United States, are very jaded. They’ve seen it all. They’ve got 40 or 50 TV channels to chose from, CD-ROM, as well as computer games. You’d better get them with something interesting or they’re on to something else. They’re very quick with that channel selector.’

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