New Media Merch?

Kirk Bloomgarden
June 1, 2006

Kirk Bloomgarden

CEO, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group

Unfortunately, terrestrial ratings are still the driving force for both licensees and retailers when they are looking to commit to a TV-driven property. However, as digital platforms gain in reach (which is happening quite quickly), its importance is starting to be recognized. Dual platforms – both terrestrial and digital exposure – are becoming more prevalent, so licensees and retailers are starting to understand the benefit of non-terrestrial coverage. As digital becomes more widespread, I think that in the very near future (three to five years) its impact on retail sales will start to be significant.

Sean Clarke

Head of licensing and marketing, Aardman Animations

New digital platforms offer a definite opportunity to provide marketing support to develop a property and, of course, create new income streams. However, it is a very complex area with regard to ownership of digital rights in the broadcast market and the respective windows of these rights between the individual media platforms. Until the industry can agree on a common framework, we will not be able to integrate these new platforms in a meaningful way into the property brand plans we pitch to prospective licencees and retailers.

Debra Joester

President, The Joester Loria Group

Over the past few years, TV-driven properties have struggled to establish successful licensing programs. In fact, retailers and manufacturers are increasingly conservative, preferring to wait for evidence of consumer awareness and demand before supporting a new TV-driven entertainment property. The top children’s broadcasters have found launching a new entertainment property and converting eyeballs to licensing success is increasingly difficult. In this environment, the more limited reach of broadband, VOD and other forms of media are not considered meaningful, primary drivers of a new property, but can be an important component of an overall entertainment strategy.

Joshua Kislevitz

Senior VP of domestic licensing, United Media

The focus on children’s entertainment properties is not entirely based on getting the most exposure, but on having an intellectual property that resonates with a commercially reliable segment of the market. Yes, the brand should be exposed but should also be cared about and able to reach an audience in a meaningful way. Although these emerging platforms are presently most visibly geared towards adults and not creating a major impact on younger viewers, they will play a larger role in the future. These platforms are more measurable and more targeted than the traditional media, enabling the retailing community to determine demand.

Andre Lake Mayer

VP of U.S. licensing, Cookie Jar Entertainment

We consider new media and cross-platform strategies integral to our success. Research shows that close to 50% of the preschool audience is moving from TV to PC screen to further their TV-show experience. We view on-line as a way to deepen the connection with our proactive fans. In our experience, licensees and retailers are starting to consider digital exposure as a measurement of brand strength, but still rely most heavily on TV ratings. However, as consumer experiences continue to evolve outside of TV, it is critical we develop a consistent measurement tool that takes into account all media models – on air, on-line and in life.

Eric Levin

Executive VP, Techno Source

Obviously, for today’s kids the world of entertainment options is much more complex than just 10 years ago. [As a licensee] today you have to be looking at this issue from the perspective of ‘which properties are kids finding really engaging’ and not just ‘which TV shows are they exposed to?’ Many of the digital platforms are stickier and more engaging than traditional TV. So at Techno Source, we are looking at this issue not only from the perspective of how kids spend their time, but also how intensely they feel about the time they spend. In the end, this is really the key driver for kids buying decisions.

Lisa Marks

President, Lisa Marks & Associates

Without question, content-driven properties these days need to be built and cultivated to live across multiple channels of distribution. The extent to which a traditional TV-based entertainment property successfully migrates to the new digital media platforms clearly indicates to prospective licensees and retail partners that the ‘media property’ is capable of being transformed into a more powerful ‘media brand.’ A consumer’s willingness to elevate their interaction with a brand through these more intimate and self-selected media channels bodes well for the broader consumer product applications availed through strategic licensing programs.

Doug Murphy

Executive VP of business development, Nelvana

It’s our contention that brands can be built on any one of TV, VOD, broadband and wireless platforms. Interestingly, the notion of ratings only applies to traditional linear broadcast – and these are the metrics that the licensing and retail community holds most dear. However, if you look at the success of Sprout VOD (with nine-million views in the month of March) or the success of KOL (which boasts millions of unique kid visitors each month), it’s clear the fragmentation of media consumption is well underway – with meaningful consequences for the licensing community. There has yet to be an example of a merchandising brand built on these new and exciting platforms, but it’s a question of when, not if, this will happen.

Matthew Primack

VP, Marvel Entertainment International

TV-driven properties are limited by TV schedules. New media and multi-media applications break down these limitations by providing an always-on, accessible communication channel to a demand-driven audience. [These platforms] enable accurate and appropriate consumer targeting with identifiable and reachable audience demographics, thereby delivering a desirable sales and marketing medium for shows and associated products. This motivates licensors, licensees and retailers to engage with new media, however, the level of engagement is often limited by technical understanding and a fear of the unknown and unproven. Many are aware, but some do not know how to (or are not brave enough to) engage.

Travis Rutherford

Executive VP, MGM Consumer Products and Location Based Entertainment

Licensees and retailers are taking digital into consideration. And, in some instances, new distribution outlets are having an affect on the sale of licensed merchandise. Marketers know there is a correlation between the age of consumers and media consumption habits and they are adapting to the proliferation of media consumption and are able to develop more finely targeted consumer propositions by media type, including digital.

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