Good morning. It’s Friday, March 15, 2013, and this is your first early morning briefing.
Second Screen Scoop: Saban is beta-testing an extensive integration of live programming from its Vortexx block of action-adventure programming on The CW with interactive games and content on Zui.com, the kid-friendly web environment it purchased last September. Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands and VP of Vortexx, gave us the inside track at yesterday’s CynKids webinar, Leveraging the Second Screen in the New Kids Market. “The paradigm for how kids expect to be entertained has totally changed,” Dekel said. Saban will take second screen continuity to the next level with a “gamefied experience” (yeah, we like the word too) where viewers can accumulate points based on Vortexx television and ancillary programming and use them to unlock games and chat. The integration will extend not just across screens, Dekel said, but into the physical realm. Saban will soon announce retailers the company is partnering with to offer toys, games and other merchandise redeemable with points accrued online.
More CynKids Webinar News: Second screens are a “huge untapped market” for parent-child co-viewing, No Crusts Interactive creative director Anne Richards told webinar participants. Richards, who has been working in preschool programming for 15 years, said the youngest TV consumers are not developmentally ready to simultaneously watch TV and engage in second screen content. “For them it’s not a dual-screen experience yet; they are not multitaskers,” she said. When they do use devices, though, expectations are big. Richards cautions developers to watch QC on production and continuity with the TV property. “If you have a successful series or brand and make a bad app, it can really reflect badly” on the whole property, she said. Also important to note: No matter how well-known your characters, a preschooler may not be familiar with them so “don’t ever expect they know who you are.”
Panelist and Magic Ruby co-founder Cedric Arnaud-Battandier revealed ways to incorporate commerce elements into second screen content but cautioned “It has to be a balance. You have to give them the interactivity they want and keep them actively involved.” He demo’d the app Magic Ruby created to accompany The Deep, a new kids show in development from parent company Technicolor that includes a way to probe fun facts about the show and a one-click option to buy a backpack featured in the program. When ecommerce works that seamlessly in context it can deliver big results, he said, since “for every click you lose 70% of your audience.”
“You cannot have a second screen strategy and not embrace YouTube,” said CynKids Webinar panelist Stacy Isenhower, Cartoon Network SVP, programming and development. Cartoon’s content has close to 50 million views and its channel has 100,000 subscribers, Isenhower said, adding, “What really resonates with kids are games.” Isenhower gave participants a tour of Cartoon’s popular Watch and Play app that unlocks games to accompany real-time viewing, and provided stats from the network showing that all the second-screening is additive, not detracting, from television viewing. “As it turns out, gamers are not choosing gaming over TV,” she said.
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Angry Birds aren’t the only things flying from developer Rovio this week. The Finnish company yesterday launched The Croods mobile game, inspired by the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film. Fans are stoked. The trailer for the game received 1.7 million views on YouTube since it debuted March 1. We wonder if a short toons strategy is in the offing for this property, too?
Scholastic continues to beef up its Storia library. Select titles from kids publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will be available on Storia, the classroom-based e-reading app for kids, beginning this spring.
More Kids News
Infinity and beyond? Not so fast. It’s no secret Disney Interactive is under big pressure to perform. So the industry is taking particular note this week of the delay in the launch of its Disney Infinity video game and toy initiative. Disney Infinity, originally slated for a June launch to tie in with Pixar’s theatrical “Monsters University,” has been bumped to Aug. 18. The company is citing a more favorable retail environment in the fourth quarter, though the push-back also delays until the fourth quarter the opportunity for a strong turnaround of the Disney unit, which turned a profit last quarter after 16 consecutive quarters of losses. Also in the mix is the fall release of the next generation of Activision Blizzard’s popular Skylanders gaming interfaceboth a forerunner and competitor to Infinity. In an interview with The New York Times, Disney Interactive co-president John Pleasants said, “We think it’s good to be first and really lean into the most important selling season of the year.” Speaking of leaning way in, the company started taking Infinity preorders yesterday.
And speaking of second screens… A new Nielsen report finds for the third year in a row, users are spending more time streaming video on game consoles. Console users in 2012 spent 22% of their time streaming programming, up from 19% in 2011 and 13% in 2010. The study found that Sony’s PlayStation 3 users were the heaviest streamers, spending 25% of their time streaming. Conversely, time spent playing games offline is on the decline. The percentage of time dipped slightly for Xbox 360 users, from 34% in 2011 to 33% in 2012, and more steeply for PS3, from 38% in 2011 to 28% in 2012 and Nintendo Wii, which dropped from 55% to 40% in 2012.
New York Comic Con has begun selling VIP and four-day tickets packages for the 2013 pop culture event, Oct. 10-13 in New York City. Head to www.NewYorkComicCon.com for purchase.
Congrats to Nikki Reed, who joins The Hub as SVP, Programming and Development. Reed jumps over from Disney Channel and Disney XD and succeeds Donna Ebbs, who is transitioning to a new role as a consultant and an executive producer for The Hub responsible for pursuing and developing new properties and securing production opportunities.
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Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question: Who is the only one of the four original Wiggles still with the Aussie troupe today? Anthony Field. Kudos to: Joe Lyons-Saban Brands/NYC; Squirrel Rippley-Dark Horse Media/Tucson; Jimmy Huynh-Toon Goggles Inc/LA.
Today’s Trivia Question: What year was the first MPAA rating system announced? (Email John@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)
Cheers — Cathy
Cathy@cynopsis.com for Cynopsis Kids!
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