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The top-five things on our radar this month

From Google+ to Hello Kitty plus one, we're keeping our eyes on what's happening in the fast-paced kids' entertainment industry.
August 3, 2011

1. Boys of summer?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the fact that kids TV execs at CN, Disney XD and Nick were courting boys six to 11 in a big way this summer. Disney, in particular, is trying to elevate Phineas and Ferb to SpongeBob stardom with a massive cross-country promo involving a travelling Platy-Bus (pictured), among other things. We believe this is just the beginning. With Nickelodeon getting more aggressive in the realm of boy-targeted, merch-heavy programming (see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ upcoming reincarnation) in 2012, the battle for boys is going to get much hotter—think scorching like the “heat dome” that covered the middle of North America in July and broke temperature records left, right and center.

2. Google gets social

Out of the gate, Google+ is giving Facebook a run for its money. Just under a month old, the service already has 20 million subscribers. Could this be the next platform to which kids and teens flock? Well, Google+ is prohibiting users under 18 years old and currently doesn’t have plans to open up to kids under 13. But that didn’t exactly stop more than five million 10-year-olds from joining rival Facebook, did it?

3. Hang on, Harry

It ain’t over until the final wand swings. With the Harry Potter film series taking its final bow in mid-July and breaking box-office records to boot, fans and the corporate hands that feed them aren’t ready to let the franchise go just yet. Warner Bros. has some tricks up its sleeve for stretching the brand through theme parks and video games, and author J.K. Rowling’s interactive Pottermore initiatives will officially launch online this fall.

4. New toon house

Thanks to Rango‘s US$240-million box office gross, Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures, which produced the CGI toon, is getting into the business in a big way with the launch of an in-house animation division. Paramount Animation’s first title is expected to hit theaters in 2014, and the division will focus on CGI-animated projects with budgets upwards of US$100 million apiece.

5. Goodbye Kitty?

With the success of global juggernaut Hello Kitty under its belt, the brand’s Japanese licensor Sanrio is on the hunt for new cuteness. The company is looking to spend up to US$377 million to acquire the rights to a new character in an effort to diversify its portfolio. Let’s just hope Kitty—and kids—get along with the new kennel mate.

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