CBS touted its new kids shows and some under-rated current successes in a presentation to advertisers in New York two months after the upfront advertising market. Buyers liked what they saw, but CBS faces tougher competition than ever in the kids arena.
Although the network’s Saturday morning kids rating fell 20 percent this season, it will bring back six of 10 shows, including four freshman series, led by its hit duo of Jim Carrey adaptations. The Mask and Ace Ventura bucked the ratings losses thoughout networkdom by increasing kids viewership in their time periods.
‘Last year, we had so many new shows,’ says Judy Price, vice president of children’s programs for CBS. ‘It’s difficult to support them all with promotion. This year, the whole thing is to grow those freshman shows.’
CBS will tackle that with a new on-air look and logo and added promotional resources.
Price calls Timon & Pumbaa, which leads off the schedule at 8 a.m., an impeccable buddy comedy from Disney that needs no tinkering whats’ever. But she wants to take another returnee, Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, and ‘untwist it a little by adding a well-known convention called ‘story.” The imaginative cartoon shorts may have been ‘a little too cerebral for many kids,’ but she promises not to soften Felix for its new 8:30 a.m. time slot.
Of CBS’s new shows, Project G.eeK.eR is an animated action-comedy from Doug Tennapel and Doug Langdale, the duo who created the Monty Python-esque Earthworm Jim on WB.
‘Disney and Dreamworks both wanted it,’ says Price, but the artists chose financing from Columbia’s new animation unit that gave them an ownership position.
Price pitches the live-action Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V. as a cross between The Wonder Years and Dream On. It’s about an 11-year-old boy videotaping his secret diary, and features tongue-in-cheek video effects and clips to augment the action. The charming show, created by Mark Waxman of Beakman’s World fame, got the strongest audience reaction.
‘It’s so empowering for kids in a positive, life-lesson way, not in terms of hitting their little brothers,’ says Price.
Secrets of the Cryptkeeper’s Haunted House is a live-action game show that looks like Nick’s Secrets of the Hidden Temple with a Goosebumps twist. The show will be shot at a Cryptkeeper theme-park attraction Universal is building in Orlando.
Bailey and Cryptkeeper qualify as educational shows under F.C.C. guidelines, fulfilling a promise CBS parent Westinghouse made to air more educational kids fare.
But Price says she wasn’t hampered by that commitment: ‘There were any number of ways CBS could have satisfied that–we could have done it on Sunday morning, or before the kids schedule on Saturday. I submitted the shows I wanted to put on.’
Some buyer reaction was lukewarm, but Gary Carr, senior VP at Ammirati & Puris/Lintas says, ‘I thought it was pretty good. The Carrey stuff does well, Timon is good and Bailey’s P.O.V. looks like a Nick show. But you’ve got to remember it’s up against four other schedules on Saturday.’