If you’ve been brewing a boys action show with an eye on Kids’ WB! as your U.S. broadcaster, chances are you’ll need to tweak the project significantly or find another on-air home for it State-side. Seeking to correct a ratings slip that has seen its Saturday numbers drop from a Q4 2002 average of 3.9 with kids two to 11 to 3.1 in Q4 2003 (weekdays were down from 2.0 to 1.5), the channel has brought in a new programming head who plans to shift the net’s target demo down the age scale a bit and focus on making the airspace more fun.
Although the high-octane action lineup on Kids’ WB! has tended to attract boys in the upper end of the net’s broad six to 11 target, Betsy McGowen, who has replaced John Hardman and stepped in as senior VP and GM of Kids’ WB!, would like to be hitting a sweet spot of eight- to nine-year-olds. ‘What we’re hoping to do is maintain our loyalty to our core demo of boys six to 11, but instead of just programming boys action-adventure, we’re broadening our scope to include other types of shows that might appeal to them,’ she says.
For the 2005/2006 season, McGowen is looking at comedy pitches and game shows, and based on the solid debut of live-action made-for-TV movie Zolar (Insight Film & Television) – which scored a 2.8 rating with boys six to 11 on Saturday, May 29 – the net may also be more open to live-action projects. She anticipates that by breaking up the action-heavy schedule with some lighter, gender-neutral fare, Kids’ WB! will start pulling in more girls and aspirational viewers in the five to eight age range.
As far as sourcing is concerned, McGowen doesn’t plan to rock the boat. She’ll be leaning on WB Animation for toons, as well as borrowing Cartoon Network gems and scouting the European and Asian markets for fresh concepts.
Producers who would like to pitch McGowen should call her office (818-954-6000) first to discuss the project, and any materials that are sent in as follow-up must be submitted via an agent or an entertainment attorney or else they will be returned without review by WBTVN legal.
McGowen has been working behind the scenes at Kids’ WB! since the channel launched in 1995, most recently guiding its on-air identity as senior VP of marketing. She feels the net’s programming hasn’t been jibing with its enthusiastic and irreverent personality developed by the branding team. To bring these two elements back in line with one another, the powers that be at the WB Network have put McGowen in charge of both departments.
The 2004/2005 schedule will remain intact, with new shows Da Boom Crew (Jambalaya Studio/BFC Berliner Film Companie) and The Batman (WB Animation) headlining the launch plans. But as much as is possible at this late stage in the game, McGowen has been taking a final pass at the shows’ scripts to up their humor quotient.
The new entries will join stock performers Pokémon (which is averaging a season-to-date rating of 5.5 with kids six to 11), Jackie Chan Adventures (5.8) and Xiaolin Showdown (4.9).