It was precisely one year ago that we introduced the KidScreen concept to the annual fall gathering of international television distributors and producers at MIPCOM ’95.
After about six months of research, planning and breakneck product development, we arrived in Cannes with a freshly minted prototype, outlining in four glossy pages how we intended to cover the changing dynamics of the children’s market.
The response then was enthusiastic. The reaction since has been quite overwhelming and it gets better with each new issue that we publish.
Mostly, we hear acknowledgment that we provide in KidScreen an accurate and useful reflection of the way life has changed for those in the business of trying to reach children.
We said a year ago that four important trends made the KidScreen idea seem right. First, the children’s entertainment market was growing substantially. Second, the importance of ancillary markets through licensing and merchandising spin-offs and the advent of new media were altering the economics and structure of the industry. Third, marketers had come to recognize the significance of children both as consumers themselves and as influencers of purchase decisions. And finally, we said the marketplace continues to become more and more global.
We’ve written many of those stories since January and, interestingly, further evidence appears through a variety of items in this issue to suggest that, if anything, these trends are accelerating.
- The Fox Children’s Network is expanding into the United Kingdom this month and the network’s president, Margaret L’esch, d’es not hesitate in saying that Fox wants to be in every major country in the world.
- Discovery Communications Incorporated plans to launch a weekly children’s program block as well as a new 24-hour digital children’s TV channel in the United States and an analog channel in Latin America. This initiative is part of an overall plan that includes a greater retail presence in the U.S., where Discovery now runs 132 stores. Children currently account for as much as 25 percent of the $150 million that the stores generate in retail sales.
- MTV Networks is expanding its production plant with a $420-million commitment to original animation programming over the next five years. More than 850 half-hour animated episodes are expected to be produced, and major expansion is planned for Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons Animation in Los Angeles and MTV’s New York animation studio.
- Warner Bros. Consumer Products continues its expansion into the children’s market with the launch of Kids’ WB! Music, a children’s audio entertainment label that is a joint venture with Kid Rhino, a division of Rhino Entertainment.
- In Canada, an established children’s book and magazine publisher and television producer, Owl Communications, hooks up with a multimedia company to create a new player in children’s entertainment programming, while at the same time, Canada’s national broadcast regulator gives the green light to a new cartoon channel and a children’s television service aimed at preschoolers.
The need to service-and the opportunity to reach-this intensely demanding demographic will continue to grow, as will KidScreen along with it.