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Opener: Let’s do launch

I used to look forward to the Fall TV season almost as much as Christmas. I was a poster child for the effectiveness of the network machine at inciting eyeball lust for the new series-pack, and actually engaged brain cells over...
September 1, 1998

I used to look forward to the Fall TV season almost as much as Christmas. I was a poster child for the effectiveness of the network machine at inciting eyeball lust for the new series-pack, and actually engaged brain cells over the summer wondering what would come next after season finale cliffhangers. The spell began to dissipate somewhat with exposure to the market side of TV, where words like ‘high concept’ make the formula too transparent, and where all storylines can be boiled down into a sentence in which two classic titles merge to spawn a series. Given kids’ inherent gravitational pull to the tube, the thing that always bugged me about this media frenzy ‘best of times,’ is that due to economies of scale, it’s often been a ‘worst of times’ (media buzz not included… ) for kid shows.

The annual massive and most consequential show-touting access to TV consumers, previously dedicated to prime-time fare, has been more inclusive of youth programming lately. With animation from The Simpsons to Stressed Eric making the prime-time grade, a plethora of hip, dual-audience offerings have attracted critics’ attention. However, while the hype-worthiness seal of approval has extended to include kids show round-ups in TV guides, oftentimes reviewers lack intimate knowledge of what’s out there or how to assess kids shows (let alone asking kids their viewing preferences). No wonder success in the past was linked with basing a show on known properties with built-in kid-Q.

While it’s desirable to see critical focus on kids content, fortunately, kids don’t need an adult thumbs-up to glom onto a new show. They create their own forums to chat about what they like, on-line or in line. However, as economies of scale have changed with the strong results of kidcasters, it’s good to see so much creative energy being devoted to giving kids shows fair play at the net level.

In this issue, KidScreen looks at the broadcast lengths to which nets and advertisers are going to cop the right youth or teen ‘tude, from YTV’s whack of new youth-driven shows to Colossal’s sophisticated new promos for kids, and in the Fall TV preview, we check out how the nets anticipate what kids will click with, and how they engineer the said clicking in their shows’ direction.

This issue also launches some new and improved KidScreen features. First up is our new upfront news section, Monitor, a round-up of international kidcasting news. The order of the magazine’s regular feature sections has been rescheduled to follow the path of a property moving through the entertainment stream, starting with Production, Distribution and Programming. Up next is New Media, which debuts Virtual Play this issue, a new monthly column wherein Jocelyn Longworth checks out breakthrough new media entries. This section also hosts Legal Eye, a roving guest column that gives a verdict on entertainment law news. Licensing and Merchandising surges along in the wake of all the new property news, and to reflect the increased full-court push that sports has on the sector, licensing/merchandising reporter Simon Ashdown has added SCORE!!!, a sports subsection, to the mix. Advertising and Promotion, the bridge to Retail, will now be helmed by Mariam Mesbah, who is on the prowl for interesting border-crossing campaigns. And finally, the rejigged Retail section (available in North American copies), now features an expanded video presence, and is subdivided into publishing, video and toys & stuff sections.

As always, feedback is required… the more outrageous the better. Speaking of which, if you are in the habit of phrasing your news uniquely, be advised that we’re trolling for quotes-of-the-issue for next month’s Yikes (check out the Contents page for September’s most colorful commentary).

Cheers, mm

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