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Entertainment/Character

Internet Changes Dynamics of Kids’ TV

By Marcy Magiera

Earlier this month, as much of the television industry was preparing to travel to France for market MIPCOM and its children’s programming section, MIPJunior, Netflix announced that it will add seven new original series for older kids to its streaming service beginning this December. The slate, which includes shows based on established brands including LEGO and The Croods, was created by major producer/licensors DreamWorks Animation, Saban Brands, American Greetings and others. It’s part of a move by Netflix to ramp up its kids’ content as it seeks to fortify its leadership in Internet TV. “Roughly half of our 65 million members around the world regularly watch kids content and with the addition of these seven diverse original series we are continuing our strong investment in kids programming,” said Andy Yeatman, Director Global Kids Content for Netflix.

Click here to view TLL‘s list of 26 new kids’ TV series that have signed on for online distribution with licensing potential (subcribers only).

Internet TV Expands Content & Licensing Opportunities

For content owners, the age of Internet TV provides more outlets for their programs on subscription services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. It also increases exposure and potentially prolongs lifecycle in TV and licensing for properties that have their primary exposure on traditional broadcast or cable networks. Disney Junior’s popular “Doc McStuffins” preschool series, for instance, is also available on Hulu, its exclusive subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) partner.

The fact is that kids consume TV differently than in the past. Today, even very young children are accustomed to not only watching linear programming on the living room TV as past generations did but also accessing their media whenever and wherever they want through streaming and subscription services on mobile devices and computers. This shift has made Netflix a new power player in kids’ TV and caused many cable networks to begin developing their own so-called “over-the-top” Internet-delivered programming services. This was a driving factor in Sesame Workshop’s move to partner with HBO for the next five years and run an expanded “Sesame Street” across the pay TV service’s on-demand options in addition to its weekday slot on PBS.

As Netflix and Amazon race to add original content, they are also increasing the number of first-run outlets available for new series. In our chart of 26 new kids’ TV series—which includes many of the highest-profile shows on their way to screens large and small—Netflix accounts for fully half. It is the primary distribution platform for heavily licensed programs including Mattel’s “Ever After High,” which will offer two new series extensions on Netflix next year.

Amazon, in addition to the two upcoming series on the list, made available in August the first season of “Wishenpoof!,” an animated series about a girl who can make wishes come true. It also is offering second seasons of its first crop of kids’ originals “Creative Galaxy,” “Annedroids,” “Tumble Leaf” and “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street.”

Kids Choose Always-on Options

Internet distributors generally do not publicly release viewership numbers and traditional TV ratings information for streaming is very limited. But according to Young Love 2015, an annual survey by youth and family research firm Smarty Pants, Netflix is the third most popular brands among kids 6 to 12, and the fifth most popular brand with moms. Amazon was the top brand with moms.

Meanwhile, average daily viewers for top kids’ cable networks Disney Channel and Nickelodeon have fallen significantly since 2012, Variety recently reported, citing as reasons: competition from non-serialized entertainment like social media and videogames; the growing popularity of original shows from sources including Netflix and Amazon; and time spent with short-form videos featuring amateur talent, primarily YouTube. Tubular Labs measured 5.6 billion views for YouTube’s kid-focused vids in the first quarter of 2015, up 224% from the same period the previous year, according to Variety.

With kids engaging so heavily with always-on media, including social media, SVOD and YouTube, licensors are making myriad forms of digital engagement part of their content strategy. Level-5 brought Japanese phenomenon Yo-Kai Watch” to the U.S. this month with a multi-platform strategy that will include Disney XD, video games, manga, a digital app and subscription streaming. Turner’s Boomerang network this month launched a new mobile app, Boomerang Watch & Play, in Asia and Australia that lets kids watch bits of their favorite content—including “The Tom and Jerry Show,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Mr. Bean: The Animated Series” and “Be Cool Scooby-Doo!”—and play games at the same time. And Nickelodeon will supplement the 20 episodes of “Pinky Malinky” coming to its network next year with short-form content for various social media platforms.

Everything Old is New

In other kids’ TV trends, many properties familiar to parents will be reborn for their kids in the next couple of years. These include Cartoon Networks’ Ben 10 and Powerpuff Girls revamps, Disney’s revival of The Lion King franchise with “The Lion Guard”, and Netflix’s Care Bears and Danger Mouse updates. Among the shows in this vein drawing attention at MIPJunior were “Zorro: The Chronicles”, for which Cyber Group Studios made deals in multiple territories, and Saban Brands’ “Regal Academy,” a Cinderella spin-off focusing on the princess’s granddaughter.

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