When it comes to favorite animated series, high-tech looks and slick storylines appeal to Canadian children, who spend most Saturday mornings glued to YTV. Nearly every top-rated weekday or weekly animated series in Canada airs on YTV, which is geared to youth.
Among the top shows are ReBoot and Beasties (a.k.a. Beast Wars), which are 3-D digital series produced by Vancouver, Canada-based Mainframe Entertainment.
Heavily marketed by YTV through outdoor advertising and on-air promotions, ReBoot is about friends doing battle with the evil Megabyte in the cyberspace world of Mainframe, while Beasties is a computerized incarnation of the Hasbro-licensed Transformers action figures. The animation style of both is imaginative and colorful, while the stories tend to feature newfangled technology and old-fashioned good-versus-evil mores.
According to Nielsen Media Research in Canada, the other most watched animated titles for Canadians age two to 11 include Nickelodeon’s Rugrats and Hey Arnold!, which offer high-quality animation and, more importantly, complex storylines that are irreverent, contemporary and can poke fun at adults.
Still other most watched animated shows are Mummies Alive! and All Dogs Go to Heaven, along with tried-and-true series Spider-Man, Pink Panther and Woody Woodpecker. Johnny Bravo, a program about a goofy muscle man, is the only program among the top-rated series that is not airing on YTV. It airs on the new Canadian English-language specialty Teletoon.
The veteran shows like Pink Panther appeal to kids because their parents grew up watching these shows, and the characters and storylines provide some common ground between the generations, says Suzanne French, manager of YTV’s co-productions before she moved to Alliance Entertainment in April to be vice president of animation.
‘It’s really hard to nail down a [children's] audience,’ she explains. ‘Every six months, kids are into different things. The shows that succeed hit a broader audience and cross over demographics.’
ReBoot, she adds, stands alone on the visual side, while Rugrats and Hey Arnold! offer kids complex, non-linear stories that are well crafted with distinct characters and voices.
A three-year comparison of Nielsen’s national surveys indicates that 10 to 12 percent of Canadian children age two to 11 tune in to Saturday and Sunday television between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Last year, average weekday morning viewing for all kids age two to 11 was 9.2 percent.