Good morning. It's Monday, May 21, 2012, and this your first early morning briefing.
Answering a few questions this week is Sandy Wax, President and General Manager for Sprout, where she is responsible for the overall cross-platform programming strategy, business initiatives, and marketing and digital efforts. Prior to joining Sprout, Wax spent seven years at Disney ABC Cable Networks where she developed the Playhouse Disney curriculum and take the brand international, and while with Disney she also helped launch SOAPnet. Wax also toiled for Discovery Communications for seven years as VP/Corporate and New Business Research. When Wax needs to relax, I hear tell that she can be found at Target or watching all seven seasons of Melrose Place with her daughter.
I think you and I might have been good friends when we were kids - we were both TV kids. Did you really memorize the TV Guide when the fall schedules came out?
When I was a kid there were no VCRs, DVRs or VOD viewing. Planning was essential so I could make sure I switched to Bewitched before my sister changed the channel to Adam-12 (or my mom turned on the Carol Burnett show). I learned early on that planning and strategy were essential skills to make sure I didn't miss my favorite shows.
What was your favorite TV lineup as a kid? (Primetime or otherwise) Did you have a favorite kid series?
My favorite lineup had to be the Friday night stack that started with Brady Bunch at 8pm, followed by Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple and Love American Style. When it came to Saturday morning cartoons, I loved the way Penelope Pitstop put her hand out of the window when drying her nails in the "Wacky Races" cartoon. What a role model!
Had you ever considered a career in a different industry?
I thought I wanted to be a scientist and majored in Biology in college. After working in chemical research for a few years, I decided to go back to school for an MBA so I could find a field that was more fast paced. Fortunately, the TV industry hasn't let me down since both technology and consumer behavior change at such a rate that the field is always changing and always interesting.
Sprout is about to embark on a new adventure taking over the Saturday morning programming block on NBC, which gets its official launch on Saturday, July 7, 2012. What will the block be called and what programs are you most excited about?
The block will be branded as NBC Kids and it will focus on programming to engage an active preschool audience. I am most excited that two Sprout original series will kick off the block with Noodle & Doodle, the first US crafts and cooking show for preschoolers, and Pajanimals, an innovative new series about four cuddly friends who go on fantastic adventures as they sort through real life issues.
Sprout is a multiplatform channel what are the different elements that make up Sprout?
Sprout's linear channel (now is 55 million households) is home base for our audience. On Sprout we follow the day of the preschooler with attention span scheduling and hosted blocks from morning to night. SproutOnline.com is where kids and families participate in Sprout by sending in weather reports, birthday wishes and crafts that we showcase in programs like The Sunny Side Up Show. We air full half hour episodes on Sprout On Demand (perfect for repeated viewing), with over 1 billion views since launch.
What is new and exciting for the Sprout digital channel, VOD and website? Will there be any on-air relationship between the channel and the NBC block?
Our biggest news is the double digit increases in Nielsen ratings that we have seen consistently from month to month this year. Ratings increases have been fueled by new series like Lazy Town and Justin Time and by new episodes of The Good Night Show. The NBC block will be another new platform that expands the reach of Sprout programming to over 110 million homes nationwide. We think the Saturday morning broadcast block will we a great way expand our reach and get the word out about the 24-hour Sprout channel, VOD and digital platforms.
During your time working for Disney ABC Cable Networks you were very involved in the company's initiative to launch its preschool-targeted Playhouse Disney (now Disney Junior) in Europe and Asia and to extend the brand into home video, retail and consumer products. What were the most important lessons from that experience?
Understand your audience. Understand the developmental needs of children and what parents want from your brand. Be clear about what your brand stands for and be authentic in all your communications. Get internal stakeholders to agree about your brand's core promises and stick to it. And make sure whatever logo you are developing works on a hang tag.
What are the plans to expand Sprout internationally and also into various products and categories?
We have begun to offer Sprout programming like Noodle and Doodle to international markets. Sprout DVDs will be released in the US this year, and we are continuing to test products around some core characters like Chica the chicken. We are very cautious in this area as moms really trust the Sprout brand, and we want to be sure that any brand extensions live up to their high expectations.
Sprout has a lot of stakeholders: it's co-owned by Sesame Workshop, Apax Partners, PBS and NBCUniversal through their licensee, Children's Network. Does everyone get along?
Of course! These companies all bring something different to Sprout, whether it is quality gold standard programming, marketing relationships, or distribution and management expertise. In the past seven years, Sprout has exceeded all expectations that we set when the partnership was established, due in large part to the contributions of each of the partners.
Cookie Jar Group is named by d-rights, a licensor and intellectual property owner, and NewBoy, the master toy licensee, as the exclusive programming distributor for the boy-targeted Scan2Go brand in North and South America and licensing agent in North America. Cookie Jar Entertainment will distribute the Scan2Go (52x30) TV series. Cookie Jar Group's licensing division is now seeking licensees for many categories for Scan2Go. A Japanese-Korean-Middle East co-production between d-rights, NewBoy, SBS Productions and Stonebridge Capital, the Scan2Go anime TV series is directed by Mitsuo Hashimoto (Beyblade, Bakugan and Dragon Ball). Scan2Go is based on a car racing toy and follows a series of great races set in outer space, where the racers are vying for the title of the universe's number one racer. Scan2Go can currently be seen on Clan TV (Spain), Panda TV (Portugal) and K2 (Italy).
Footwear Company, Cortina - Leomil Group, signs an exclusive Angry Birds license deal with Rovio for the US and Canada. Additionally, Cortina - Leomil Group simultaneously inks a partnership with the newly formed Rich Footwear Group to market and sell the new line of Angry Bird footwear in the US and Canada. The Angry Birds footwear line is set to launch at retail in the US and Canada in fall 2012.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Universal Studios Hollywood debuts the new Transformers: The Ride3D ( www.prepareforbattle.com) on Friday, May 25, 2012, with early park entrance for Memorial Day weekend beginning Saturday, May 26 through Monday, May 28. Gates will open at 7:30a for early access to Transformers: The Ride3D and the Studio Tour. Based on the Transformers movie franchise, which in turn is based on Hasbro's Transformers property, creative consultants filmmaker Michael Bay and celebrated special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) serve as creative consultants on the Transformers: The Ride3D attraction with theme park ride technology group Universal Creative.
The San Diego Zoo, in conjunction with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment, unveils the new Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - The 4-D Experience attraction. Based on the elements from the third Ice Age feature film, this is the first time this attraction will appear in the U.S. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - The 4-D experience is a 14-minute attraction featuring heroes Manny, Ellie and Diego, who venture into a mysterious underground world after Sid the Sloth stumbles across three abandoned eggs and decides to raise them as his own. Viewed in 3-D, the film features an star studded voice cast, including Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah. The attraction has already opened at Alton Towers in the UK and Gardaland in Italy. The fourth installment of the film series, Ice Age: Continental Drift, in theaters in 3-D July 13, 2012.
MORE KIDS STUFF
Nickelodeon is set to launch the newest incarnation of its popular game show Figure It Out on Monday, June 11, at 7p. Hosted this time around by Jeff Sutphen (BrainSurge), Figure It Out challenges celebrities to guess kid contestants' unique talents will feature guest panelists from popular Nickelodeon series including Victoria Justice (Victorious), Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), Cymphonique Miller (How To Rock), Big Time Rush, as well as singer/actress Rachel Crow. Figure It Out will air regularly Monday-Friday at 7p. Figure It Out originally aired for four seasons on Nickelodeon from July 1997 to December 1999 and was hosted by Olympic gold medalist swimmer Summer Sanders. Created by Kevin Kay and Magda Liolis, with the new episodes of Figure It Out are being executive produced by Liolis and Eileen Braun.
Disney XD orders a second season of its live action, sci-fi comedy Lab Rats. Lab Rats revolves around Leo, a teen who discovers three teen super-humans living in a secret underground lab in his house. The trio, keen to leave their confines, convince Leo to take them to school, where they try to navigate the world of high school life while managing their bionic strengths. Meanwhile, Leo has to figure out a way to keep their bionic abilities a secret from everyone. Created and executive produced by Chris Peterson and Bryan Moore (That '70s Show), Lab Rats is a production of It's A Laugh Productions.
Discovery Kids Latin America acquires the license for the third season of Zinkia Entertainment's Pocoyo preschool series, entitled Let's Go Pocoyo (52x7), for its pan regional cable platform. Let's Go Pocoyo launches this month with initial premieres in Mexico and Brazil. Discovery Kids Latin America has also renewed its license for the first two seasons of Pocoyo. Each episode of Let's Go Pocoyo begins with a themed adventure introducing vocabulary, followed by lessons based on various themes, including numbers, colors, shapes, animals, words, etc., and ending with a musical journey that features different genres of original music during which there is a recap of the lessons learned in that episode.
National Geographic Little Kids launches its very first preschool app, Look & Learn: Animals Vol. 1, which is optimized for the new iPad, and available for all iOS devices. The app is a group of three educational apps, Animal Bounce, Animal Match and Animal Words, which is designed to encourage kid's awareness of the natural world with the help of photos, animal sounds and learning games. Look & Learn: Animals Vol. 1 is an extension of National Geographic Little Kids' learning book series.
Mark your calendars! Help us salute the year's most outstanding communications initiatives and kids programming in the dynamic kids media industry, and hear Richard Wiese, host of Born to Explore, at the Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards on Thursday, June 7 from 810:30a at Le Parker Meridien NY. Register: http://www.cynopsis.com/events/kids-awards
Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; May 18-20, 2012:
Marvel's The Avenger (Disney) PG-13 $55.1m-3 wk total $457.1m
Battleship (Universal) PG-13 Opening Weekend $25.4m
Dark Shadows (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $12.8m-2 wk total $50.9m
What To Expect When Your Expecting (Lionsgate) PG-13 Opening Weekend $10.5m
The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) PG-13 $3.0m-9 wk total $391.6m
Think Like A Man (Sony) PG-13 $2.7m-5 wk total $85.9m
The Lucky One (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $1.8m-5 wk total $56.9m
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony) PG $1.5m-4 wk total $25.4m
Chimpanzee (Disney) G $702,000-5 wk total 27.0m
Bernie (Millennium Entertainment) PG-13 $511,067-4 wk total $1.1m
Source: Rentrak (www.rentrak.com)
A Squared Elxsi Entertainment (A2E2), a joint venture between A Squared Entertainment and India's Tata Elxsi Ltd, appoints Boom! as its international PR agency of record. Lead by founder Justin Crosby, Boom! will handle corporate and consumer PR for A2E2. Crosby will report to Paul Robinson, A2E2's recently appointed President of International. Based in LA, A2E2 creates, produces, acquires and distributes digital kids' entertainment and also has a licensing division. Robinson, who was founder and CEO of KidsCo, is currently setting up a new A2E2 office in London.
Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Thursday, May 17, 2012, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
DISNEY CHANNEL: K2-11 761; K6-11 439; TWEENS 9-14 365
NICKELODEON: K2-11 719; K6-11 292; TWEENS 9-14 237
CARTOON NETWORK: K2-11 419; K6-11 244; TWEENS 9-14 198
DISNEY XD: K2-11 143; K6-11 107; TWEENS 9-14 92
NICKTOONS: K2-11 74; K6-11 45; TWEENS 9-14 49
Source: MTVN Research from Nielsen Media Research Data
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: What does the E stand for in Wile E Coyote's name? Ethelbert. Kudos to: William "Chip" Beaman-Soundelux Design Music Group/Hollywood.
Today's Trivia Question: Yogi Bear was a spin off of what show? (Email John@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you've been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can't be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Later -- Gwen
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