Cartoon Network’s U.K. site will get a booster shot this summer when TBS supplies British Telecom with high-speed broadband services launching on BT Openworld in July. The revamped site will have streaming video, games and original Brit Web toons, along with content from the U.S. CN also plans more Web/TV convergence gimmicks with the increased Net firepower.
Broadband will allow CN to develop more complex games with more detailed graphics, faster applications and more playing levels. Skitoony is the working title of the first broadband game with the tag line ‘It’s crazy, it’s looney, it’s Cartoon Network’s Skitoony.’ The `50s-style quiz show, which is slated for a July debut, will use Flash animation to pose cartoon trivia questions to multiple players.
The new and improved CN site will also debut regionally produced toons. ‘We’re looking for animators and producers locally as a way for us to showcase them and be specific to this market,’says Lynne Frank, managing director of entertainment networks at TBS Europe. She says CN is looking for fare that fits the net’s mandate-humor-based with a good story. The Web application, Frank says, gives CN more flexibility in terms of length, opening the door to one- to three-minute toons instead of the usual seven-minute minimum length for TV. Frank says all projects will be developed in-house as co-productions, rather than as outright acquisitions of completed projects. The option to morph Web toons into TV shows is also a possibility. First out of the gate during the July launch is a U.S. Web toon called Banana Splits, currently airing on the North American CN site, Cartoonnetwork.com. (See ‘Kid scene interactivities,’ KidScreen October 1999, page 78). Details of original U.K. Web toons launching in July were not available at press time.
As far as convergence goes, Frank says the plan is to take some TV properties currently airing on Cartoon Network and spin Web-specific elements to them as a strategy to drive viewers to the site. Other traffic-swelling strategies include the development of windows for some product to debut on the broadband site before it appears anywhere else. The revamped site will also include promos like Smelly Telly, which ran at the end of last month on the narrowband site. Millions of scratch-and-sniff cards were distributed through Cartoon Network Magazine, Cable Guide and Skyview Digital. The cards had numbered scratch-and-sniff sections that viewers uncovered during certain shows at certain times. They could then log on to the odor decoder at the site and if their smell was legit, could download freebies like screen-savers or icon sets.