Upfront Market Special Report: A schoolyard of broadcasters

While the dynamics of the upfront children's television market may be changing dramatically, with cable services taking away more of the networks' audience share, and with some suggestions that children's overall numbers are down, one fact remains unchallenged-television is still the...
January 1, 1998

While the dynamics of the upfront children’s television market may be changing dramatically, with cable services taking away more of the networks’ audience share, and with some suggestions that children’s overall numbers are down, one fact remains unchallenged-television is still the best way to reach the largest number of kids

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With more and more new players entering the kids programming fray, the marketplace is beginning to show signs of overcrowding. To understand where the major U.S. kids broadcasters are positioning themselves in this increasingly cluttered environment, KidScreen asked each of them to describe exactly which sector of the market they are going after.

But, to make things a little more interesting, we asked them to describe themselves as a kid. Specifically, we asked them to answer the question, ‘If your kids programming [block] were a kid, what kind of kid would it be?’ Although a few declined, most happily shared with us the qualities and quirks of their special kid.

Taking a glance around our ‘Schoolyard of Broadcasters,’ it’s clear that these 11 ‘kids’ share many similarities, while still maintaining some individuality. Some are still in grade school, while others are in the throes of teenage rebellion. Some like sports, others read comic books, and all want to be cool.

As more and more ‘new kids’ arrive on the scene, each seeking to carve out a spot in the busy schoolyard, things may become more complicated. Some kids who aren’t so sure who they are may be forced to look for a new place to hang out.

*ABC Saturday Morning kid: A kid’s kid

If ABC Saturday morning were a kid, it would be a child who knows just how special it is to be a kid. The ABC kid is smart and energetic, approaching life with great curiosity and eyes wide open. In the playground, you’ll find this youngster among the children in the sandbox trying to build a city out of sand. While consistently learning from the surrounding world as well as from within, this kid is also passionate about having fun.

*Cartoon Network kid: The class comedian

If Cartoon Network were a kid, it would be a witty, irreverent, precocious kid. Though regularly seen entertaining both classmates and teacher as the ‘class comedian,’ the Cartoon Network kid is never mean-spirited. Other kids see this cool kid as smart and interesting, getting by more on brains and humor, than on brawn. As for the future, this is one kid who doesn’t intend to ever grow up.

*Discovery Kids kid: Curious and cool

If Discovery Kids were a kid, it would be a nine- or 10-year-old ‘regular’ kid with a good sense of humor and lots of energy, who is fascinated by the world at large. At recess, you could just as easily find this future astronaut playing baseball as examining a really weird bug on a leaf. Though teachers might say that the Discovery Kids kid is a smart, engaged, straight-ahead kid, this is no teacher’s pet. In fact, other kids say that this kid shows them that you can be both curious and cool.

*Disney Channel kid: A real character

If Disney Channel were a kid, it would be a creative, imaginative, curious and extroverted kid. One that loves to have fun, laughs easily, is always up for new adventures and loves to spend time with family. This kid is a real character!

*Fox Family Channel kid: The new kid on the block

If the Fox Family Channel’s programming block were a kid, it would be the newest kid on the block. This insatiably curious kid loves music, sports and watching shows, especially funny movies, with his or her family. The Fox Family Channel kid may not always be the most popular kid, because of a strongly held sense of personal individuality. This kid is a bit of a prankster, but well-rounded overall, and looks to the future with an open mind and an open heart.

*Fox Kids Network kid: The coolest kid

If Fox Kids Network were a kid, it would be the coolest kid in school-the one everyone wants to be seen with and have as a friend. Someone who is ‘in the know’ on all the latest trends and who sets future trends. The Fox Kids kid takes you along on great adventures and on the wildest amusement park rides, and tells the best and scariest stories around the campfire, but will always see that you get home safely and with a smile.

*Nickelodeon kid: Looking for adventure

If Nickelodeon were a kid, it would be a kid called ‘Nick’ (short for Nicholas or Nicole). Like Henry and June on KABLAM!, Nick is crazy about comics and cartoons. But Nick doesn’t spend all day at home reading comics. This intrepid kid can also be found outside exploring the world like Allen Strange, playing stickball like Arnold and the gang, or helping the world by recycling. And, during daily ‘Make Your Own Sundae’ parties with friends, Nick gets into heated discussions about what kind of goo they’d all morph into if they were Alex Mack.

*PBS Kids Kid: The trusted friend

If PBS Kids were a kid, it would be the friend you trust, have fun with and the one with whom you explore new ideas, people and places. The one who asks you what you like to do and what you want to know. The PBS Kids kid likes to play on TV and on-line, in school and after class. This kid knows how to shoot the ball and pass it to a teammate, and can even tell you why it bounces! And, long after your diploma’s on the wall, you’ll remember this kid for having made school, as well as recess, a fun place and a special time.

*TNBC Kid: Ready to take on the world

If NBC’s Saturday morning block were a kid, it would be the coolest and brightest teen on the block. The TNBC teen is psyched to learn, seeks out challenges and confronts issues to which other teens can relate. Fun-loving and adventurous, the TNBC teen loves taking chances and is always looking to be at the head of the class. Mischievous but always conscionable, this kid will no doubt emerge from teendom as an excellent adult with a lot of fun memories.

*UPN Kids Kid: A kid with an attitude

If UPN Kids were a kid, it would be a kid just hitting puberty, experiencing a lot of changes in life. A kid who always has a lot going on, the UPN kid has a contagious energy and is definitely not a baby. For fun, this popular, active youngster likes to hang out and play competitive sports with the Nickelodeon kid. This is a kid with an attitude. Looking ahead, the UPN Kids kid hopes to be an adult like She Hulk-successful, cocky, popular and not at all concerned with what others think.

*USA Network Kid: A bit of a renegade

If USA Network’s teen block were a kid, it would a smart, curious, 14-year-old. A bit of a renegade who doesn’t always follow the rules, the USA Network teen is the kind of kid other kids like to be around. This active kid likes to engage in all kinds of eclectic seasonal sports, from golf to snow boarding, and from hockey to extreme sports. Although currently mostly occupied with having a blast, this teen intends to grow up to become a thinker and a doer.

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