Cynopsis Media Presents: 2015 Kids Upfront Special



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Cynopsis Media Presents: 2015 Kids Upfront Special

By Cathy Applefeld Olson

The Kids Upfront is off and running with a focus on both reaching across multiple screens and beyond traditional measurement metrics. Whether digital will snag half the total ad buy for this sector as predicted for the general market remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: It’s no longer Mom and Dad’s old viewing environment. And that’s despite recent Nielsen Media findings that of the 30 hours per week children spend with entertainment media, 23 of those hours are still on television.


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“TV is still the dominant screen,” Rita Ferro, EVP, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, says. “But there’s no question the opportunity exists over and above television.” Across all of its properties, Ferro says Disney last year had a total reach of 4 billion impressions; 37 percent of them occurred off the linear screen.

Shifting viewing patterns-Nielsen data also shows linear TV grabs a decreasing percentage of screen time the older kids get-have brought both opportunity and challenge. Since last year’s Upfront, family-focused Hub Network went dark, morphing into Discovery Family Channel. DFC primarily showcases Hasbro Studios content during the day, and mines family-friendly fare from the Discovery stable of networks for primetime, including programming about natural history, science and animals. The company has also been working to up the network’s own cache, under GM Tom Cosgrove and Sarah Davies, VP, Production and Development. This month, Discovery Family-premiered the series Dinosaurs: The Untold Story as part of its month-long Dino Madness programming event. In general, time-shifted viewing, SVOD and OTT options are showing clear signs of altering the ebb and flow of traditional weekly viewing.

Faced with decreased ratings, Nickelodeon made a strong statement about measurement at its Upfront. While television “is the biggest platform to reach kids,” according to head of sales Jim Perry, “as we know, C3 ratings don’t tell the whole story. If we look over seven days, we see a 40 percent lift.”

Location, Location, Location
A sign of changing times, many kids networks this year shifted the setting in which they’re wooing advertisers and brands. Nickelodeon swapped out the Lincoln Theater for the more contemporary Skylight at Moynihan Station, and used a massive screen to demonstrate its multi-faceted ecosystem. Disney opted to bring 100 of its top clients to one of two sites for a two-day immersion: Lucasfilm in San Francisco and Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Cartoon Network is hosting meetings at the Time Warner Media Lab in New York in a direct bid to show potential advertisers the power of the cross-platform play. “It’s about us working together with partners to get better metrics against multiplatform metrics,” says Joe Hogan, EVP, Turner Emerging Consumer Ad Sales, which encompasses Cartoon, Boomerang, Adult Swim and truTV. “We share programming strengths, where the multiplatform opportunities are, and then the discussion inevitably goes to: ‘What can you guys do around measurement?’ It’s beneficial to be in the Lab so we can show them.”

Got Solutions?
Brands, above all, are looking for a deeper connection with kids and families. “We are looking for integrated solutions. We aren’t just trying to buy eyes from a specific network or show,” says Victor Zaborsky, senior marketing manager for the Milk Processors Education Program creators of the Got Milk? and more recent Milk Life campaigns. “I really want to engage consumers more deeply. Broadcast is critical for reach and scale, but we’re also looking for a 360 platform.”

Zaborsky says he’s beginning to see a less silo’d approach among the networks but challenges still exist in the way cost centers are structured. “They have to look at it holistically,” he says. “You can’t just be trying to sell this product because this is where you make your money, and someone else has control over a different cost center and all they care about is their own bottom line. That is starting to change; they’re realizing if they work together they can improve business for all areas.”

Mining Cross-Platform Opportunities
Opportunities for brands to integrate and engage are increasing in sophistication. For Sprout, being sold as part of the NBCU lifestyle group provides leverage. “It’s a tough ad market out there in general, but Sprout has shown significant improvement being part of the family where we can complement a multi-network buy,” network president Sandy Wax says of the network’s placement alongside Bravo, E!, Esquire and Oxygen.

As it prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday, Sprout is touting a brand refresh grounded in original programming that started last year with Astro Blast and continues with the debut of The Good Night Show spinoff Nina’s World.

While its logo will remain the same, Wax says, “We’re moving to a more contemporary brand. This audience changes so quickly. There are constantly new parents and groups of kids watching and we want to stay current and fresh.” The launch of Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave in February, for one, was synced with play-along apps, and Wax says enrichments to the Sprout Now TV Everywhere app are on the way.

With a six-fold growth in mobile audience in the past two years and 50 million downloads across its apps (including 13 million for the Nick App), according to Perry, Nick is keeping its foot on the cross-platform pedal. The network just launched an app-based SVOD service based on its legacy Noggin brand, and is revving up other program extensions including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated shorts program helmed by original co-creator Kevin Eastman.

Following in the footsteps of the network’s iCarly, new girls-who-code series Game Makers is ripe for digital extensions, says Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon president of content development and production. “It’s a great way to connect TV to digital right in the moment for today,” he says. “We’ll be releasing the games featured on the show as apps.”

With the synergies among platforms and clients’ greater desire for customization, Nick this year combined its consumer insights, marketing and multimedia services in the new Inside Out Solutions business. Inside Out “signals our commitment to collaborative partnerships,” says Pam Kaufman, CMO/president of consumer products.

Heavy cross-platform extensions-Cartoon Network has 28 apps in the market– and an increase in shows that appeal to girls (Teen Titans Go! and new We Bare Bears, among them) as well as its traditional boy audience, are boosting Cartoon ratings. The network is up to 10-year highs in some demographics and dayparts, and experienced 21 percent growth over the same time last year.

“That’s the expectation of this audience,” says Christina Miller, president/GM of Cartoon, Boomerang and Adult Swim. “They will discover it, share it, even evangelize about it if the content is right and they can find it on their platform of choice.”

For example, new digital series Mighty Magiswords will debut on the CN Anything app in 15-second interactive episodes. McDonald’s last October signed on as the launch sponsor for CN Anything; the space is now available to other sponsors. On the long-form front, “VOD is a really ripe opportunity for advertisers. We have a number of advertisers who are looking to do longer-form content in those VOD pods,” Hogan says.

Disney is evolving its role in helping brands customize messaging across platforms and social media outlets. This year the company corralled the service under the Disney Co-op umbrella, providing recent integrations for brands including Kohl’s, Google and Lego. “It’s almost like an agency role,” Ferro says. “Some [clients] want to engage through video, others through quizzes, posts that get shared virally, blogs.”

Programming-wise, Disney is varying the story arc and release schedule for select shows to draw viewers across platforms. New XD series Future Worm will launch as shorts this summer, says Paul DeBenedittis, SVP, programming strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide. “We know we need to rethink our ability to launch multiple episodes at one time,” he says.

Disney Jr. saw success when it launched five episodes of Miles from Tomorrow in one week rather than stagger them, and Disney XD’s similar release of Lab Rats episodes became the network’s second-highest-rated week in history, DeBenedittis notes.

“Kids are coming in from multiple places and we’re looking for broader reach as opposed to what would have been reach of one platform alone,” he says. Star Wars Rebels has reach across Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Jr. and their associated platforms. “We delivered 375 million impressions in the fourth quarter alone, of which 38 million-40 million are nonlinear,” DeBenedittis adds. 



Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480
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