Hand in hand with the February 1 launch of its new family channel, HBO and co-producer Reset Inc. are beefing up the net’s hbo4kids Web site (www.hbo4kids.com) with games and activities that center around HBO Family’s slate of programming in hopes of garnering a big kid eyeball tally for the tube offering.
The star of the site’s sked section, which will be up and running by the end of this month, is Crashbox, an original learning game show series designed by L.A.’s Planet Grande and Toronto’s Cuppa Coffee Animation. Its most striking feature is an edgy blend of claymation, puppetry, live-action and a veritable cornucopia of animation techniques.
Crashbox is no stranger to the Internet; in fact, the concept behind the show was originally designed last March to be the foundation for the family channel’s Web site, but then was quickly rerouted for series production when net programmers recognized its cool visual potential (see ‘Game shows prized by programmers,’ page 56).
Lynne Eyberg, project manager for hbo4kids at Reset, says the game show’s prominence on the seven-to-12-targeted site is partly due to its unencumbered status as an in-house series. ‘Licensing agreements for characters like Pippi Longstocking and Babar restrict what we can do on the Net, but original shows are limitless in terms of on-line possibilities.’
A Little Curious is another HBO-produced series that’ll take a bigger piece of the Web site pie when hbo4kids makes a focused effort to target the preschool crowd this spring. ‘We can’t appeal to every age group with the same content. Eventually, the site will be broken up into the demographic sections that appeal separately to preschoolers, kids, tweens and teens,’ says Diane Jakacki, executive producer of the site.
A series of on-air spots featuring screen grabs with voice-overs began airing on HBO at the start of December, a scant few weeks after hbo4kids first hit the Internet highway. According to Eyberg, the project is still in launch mode until the final content additions have been made at the end of this month, but the completed site is expected to see traffic of more than 100,000 hits a day.