When Cookie Jar Entertain-
ment acquired DIC in 2008, the company found itself with a vast kids library, much of which had not seen the small screen in awhile. So after studying models employed by popular video streaming sites like YouTube and Hulu, SVP of digital media Kenneth Locker and his team decided to develop a strategic plan to showcase CJ’s 5,000-plus animated eps, ranging from 1980s classic Inspector Gadget to Johnny Test, on recently launched streaming site Jaroo.com.
As for a business model, Cookie Jar looked to an ad-supported one, which Locker notes has been gaining traction in the kids online video market. ‘There’s so much content for free that it’s really hard to make a case, at least initially, to pay for [the site].’ But he contends that internet streaming is becoming more attractive to advertisers because they can get precise usage data that’s unavailable through TV ratings, like the time a certain group spends watching. (Gorilla Nation Kids is now selling ad space on Jaroo as part of its aggregate network that includes Millsberry.com, the HIT sites and Barbie.com.)
Consumer appeal also comes from a reduced ad insertion rate – a 22-minute ep may have about eight minutes of commercials on TV, but the same ep on Jaroo has just 90 seconds. Locker also made a conscious decision to have a simple, easy-to-navigate site with no games. The idea behind the site was to create an environment that enhances both video viewing and advertiser reach. ‘[Games are] a very different business,’ he says. ‘I thought it would really take our eye off the ball.’
The company is currently looking to launch a Jaroo iApp in Q2, as well as create a premium membership, where consumers could gain access to entire series instead of just five eps at a time. Feedback so far has also been positive, and Locker notes that since parents are sharing the retro content with their kids, he’s looking to target influential mommy blogs and non-endemic advertisers.
At press time, Cookie Jar was in discussions with high-profile partners to take on third-party content. ‘We’re a very focused destination for kids video online, so we’ve had a lot of interest from people with libraries who haven’t figured out where to put them,’ says Locker. ‘I’d love to get another 4,000 to 5,000 episodes from third parties. There are also some interesting anime and European libraries that have not been shown in North America, for example.’
Plans are underway to take Jaroo into other territories, such as Canada, the UK, Australia and Latin America, and regions suited to its French and Spanish programming. Locker is also keeping his eye out for opps to stream original webisode content. ‘Ideally, we could use it to incubate concepts that we could develop into TV shows or consumer products,’ he says.