This week’s post is short, as I’m in China with limited internet access.
I look forward to seeing many of you this weekend at MIPJunior, where I’m speaking on trends in children’s entertainment and brands. This piece seemed timely for the week before that largest gathering of children’s television professionals and content.
I like to watch.
Not necessarily in a Chauncey Gardiner sense, but I am in this business because I love media. I was the kid who carefully reset the channel on the television set before my parents came home from work, so they wouldn’t know I’d spent the afternoon…watching. I was the college student whose roommates were doing organic chemistry problem sets and reading Mill and Locke, while I was…watching. “Sesame Street.” When I travel internationally, I flip through the channels to see what the people where I’m visiting are…watching. (Having woken this morning at 4 am – I blame many baijiu toasts at last night’s banquet – I’ve just spent an hour watching “Buddha Mountain,” a soap opera that was comprehensible even without translation.)
I’m finding, though, that there’s less and less time to watch what’s new or popular in our field of children’s entertainment, and I miss it.
I’m in China as a speaker and juror at CICDAF – the China Changzhou International Animation Art Festival. Yesterday, we reviewed short films, student films, TV series and specials and even a feature or two, and I was reminded – I like to watch. We saw all different animation formats and storytelling genres, entries that were clearly designed to appeal to all cultures by reflecting none, and stories deeply and unmistakably rooted in a particular place or time.
At Dubit, I’ve got some great tools behind me to travel the world speaking about trends and implications – tracking surveys, UX and UI research, digital production experience and research-based adaptation models. What I miss, though, is…watching.
Once upon a time, I was able to see almost every new US children’s TV show. Of course, once upon a time there was a fall schedule, winter replacements and summer repeats on four networks and public broadcasting. Now, there are innumerable channels and streaming services constantly debuting new content, and that’s just in video. There are also dozens of app debuts weekly, games, websites and more.
That’s just in the US – how can I monitor international trends when I can barely keep up with my own market?
I usually see things that break out of the pack, but that’s only a good way to know what’s hot in the moment, not to discern the zeitgeist of the broader kids media world.
Of course, this isn’t just my problem; even the NY Times is asking if there’s “too much TV.” Kids face a similar, if not bigger, tsunami of content. I wrote two weeks ago about the challenges of priming discovery for your brand or content.
How about you? I assume you also like to watch.
How do you keep track of what’s emerging? How do you pick what to check out and what to let slide? Who are your go-to sources? Share how you do it (and any recent discoveries) in the comments below.
If you want others to watch your content, and maybe even to honor its excellence, the call for entries has gone out from PRIX JEUNESSE – the international children’s TV festival. You can find the entry rules here; the deadline is December 11, 2015.
And, if you like to watch, mark the festival itself on your calendar: May 20-25, 2016 in Munich. You’ll see nearly 100 programs from all over the world, and meet 500 of your colleagues. As Chair of the festival International Advisory Board, I know I’m biased, but I think it’s the best professional development activity in all of kids media.