Mulling over The Next Big Thing

Beth Stevenson
April 1, 2002

Beth Stevenson

Partner and VP of production and development at Decode Entertainment

We feel that everyone will be going ‘back to basics’ in all corners of the industry in the next year. Broadcasters have been laurel-resting lately with their solid core of six- to 10-year-olds. This is why we have seen a bit of resurgence for boys action shows. Broadcasters will also be taking fewer risks on edgier programming–thus, we have moved our development slate towards high-quality, classic kids fare.

Ken Faier

VP of production, distribution and licensing at AAC Kids

The demand for programming will finally exceed the supply for the first time in years–and while this will not necessarily change the economics of producing, I believe that we will see the return of traditional animated series targeting six- to 11-year-olds. The big difference will be much lower budgets, and we will see many different forms of animation, including a much wider use of Flash and similar lower-cost technologies.

I also believe that we will begin to see more properties come from the interactive world now that video game platforms have overtaken television as the primary form of kids entertainment. As these two different industries start to work together more meaningfully and that dreaded word ‘convergence’ begins to rear its ugly head again, perhaps we will finally see Bob the Builder take on Lara Croft from Tomb Raider in a no-holds-barred, interactive pay-per-view TV extravaganza!

Rick Mischel

President of The Mischel Company

I think we are going to see more use of the interactive elements that have been promised for so long with convergence. We are finally starting to see the combination of television and computer screens, and I think creatively, kids programming will increasingly take advantage of this. Preschool shows will have activity blocks that can be played by the audience while watching a particular episode. Tween shows may have advice columns and on-line guests before and after the television episodes.

I’m happy to say that there will be a resurgence of preschool programming, with three- to six-year-olds seeing smarter and more entertaining shows broadcast on networks previously not airing preschool–like Cartoon Network in the U.S.

Peter Völkle

President and CEO of TV-Loonland

Many kids shows these days are focusing on the cutting edge of digital technology, and revitalizing old franchises is an ever-returning trend in children’s programming. But why go back 20 years to find a ‘new’ concept when you can go back centuries–especially when there’s room for stories about worlds that cannot be boiled down to zeroes and ones? With all kinds of bright, tech-happy shows about robots, journeys inside the web and digital friends saturating the marketplace, some producers are turning their sights back to a quieter, more gentle time–like the Middle Ages–for programming inspiration.

Theresa Plummer-Andrews

Head of acquisitions and co-productions for CBBC

From the distributors’ point of view, it would appear that anime is still big. However, from our perspective at CBBC, good storytelling in traditional animation styles (rendered in 2D or CG!) is what’s going to capture our audience. Especially exciting are series mixing live action and animation.

Vincent Chalvon-Demersay

Managing director of Marathon Productions

While tween girl properties are a global trend in TV and merchandising, they do not yet have a clear broadcast niche in the U.S. And with ABC Family and Nick opening up boys action blocks and Fox Kids and Kids’ WB! still committed to that genre, it would appear that boys still control the U.S. remote and girls slots are hard to come by–at least for the moment. But on the heels of recent girl-targeted entries Totally Spies, Braceface and the upcoming Disney’s Kim Possible, there is still room for more–look for new series to fill that void soon.

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