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So, you want to get a kid’s show on the air…

Take a number, and fiddle with your demo while you're waiting. You're probably reviewing your options post-NATPE skirmishes and polishing the pitch for the major military campaign that is MIP-TV. In advance of the next stage in the complicated journey from...
March 1, 2000

Take a number, and fiddle with your demo while you’re waiting. You’re probably reviewing your options post-NATPE skirmishes and polishing the pitch for the major military campaign that is MIP-TV. In advance of the next stage in the complicated journey from pitch to debut, this month’s KidScreen uses a premarket simulation exercise to get a read on the continually shifting terrain and tastes of the kids broadcast community, as well as taking a look at what kid lineups are working on U.S. nets.

In this issue’s virtual pitch session, a handful of broadcasters, producers, distributors and licensing types weigh in with their comments on Legacy of the Silver Shadow, a series proposal from The Australian Children’s Television Foundation. The feedback indicates which factors take priority as the various players consider whether a show has the earmarks of a hot commodity; it also highlights the delicate balance show creators must strike. They need to have a strong enough positioning statement to pique individual interests-without too much specificity that might limit partnering options-and then must weave their way through a lot of conflicting tweaking desires from potentially interested parties.

Also in this issue, the upfront coverage in the Advertising to Kids: Media report gives a temperature read on which U.S. nets rated hottest with kids. Of the stats that emerged, TN Media’s TV usage measurements showed kids are tuning in more than last year and are watching more kids TV and fewer adult series than they have in the past. In Q4 last year, kids watched 6.2 hours of kids TV and 8.3 hours of non-kids shows on average per week. Perhaps the increased level of sophistication nets demand in new kid series is a contributing factor. While prime time is skewing younger, kid slots have skewed edgier, translating into a dialscape where a show in prime time on Fox-think Malcolm in the Middle-is close in tone of content to programs in a kids lineup.

While most producers try to target a kid demo in a realistic fashion, there has always been a tendency (perhaps more on the distribution side) to label the demo older than is likely, given the premise. With programmers wanting kid shows that can sate the clicking urge of a broader demo than six to eight, will increasingly mature treatments result?

Sophisticated fare for kids is good, and it certainly makes watching TV with kids more fun for parents, but one has to wonder if the volume of projects trying to appeal to a very broad demo will contribute to the escalation of the KAGOY principle. The new wave of chip intensive smart toys for tots, or Game Boy games based on preschool shows can be taken as a sign that the Kids Are Getting Older Younger theory hasn’t lost currency.

Curiously, amidst the sea of tech toys, complex plots, elaborate futuristic settings and increasingly intense degrees of peril or scariness, a relatively simply drawn, predictably premised show has swept in and taken the world of kids by storm. Pokémon turned up in both reports this issue, cited for its new kid mythology creation as a premise to keep in mind when developing projects, and as the ‘the only thing that’s really hot right now’ in a media buyer’s kidcaster performance evaluation.

With Pokémon (like Lassie), kids know it will all turn out right in the end, and as this issue’s update on Poké’s progress around the world confirms, the premise has universal appeal-to kids. Most outside the core kid demo are stymied by the show’s endless supply of characters (let alone their various abilities), so it’s hardly the broad-demo-sticky, slick production many seem to be trolling for and pitching. Funny, that.

Cheers, MM

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