Good morning. It’s Monday, August 20, 2012, and this your first early morning briefing.
Cynopsis: Kids! is ten years old this summer. In 2002, Cynthia Turner, creator of Cynopsis, asked me to help her develop and launch the kids’ version of her influential daily e-newsletter. So ten years and a several laptops later, here we all are, once again in the midst of continuing technological change that’s having a profound impact on producers, distributors, broadcasters, advertisers, licensors, licensees, of course, kids and families. This week we continue the celebration of the first decade of Cynopsis: Kids!, in which we’re presenting a series of reflections from some of the industries top executives and thinkers. My question to them – looking back at the past ten years, what has changed in the kids media business, for better or worse? As you have been reading sometimes execs and thinkers have differing opinions of these last years. Offering their thoughts today are Deborah Forte and Fred Seibert.
Deborah Forte, President, Scholastic Media and EVP, Scholastic Inc., overseeing Scholastic’s Software and Digital Products Group, Scholastic Entertainment and Scholastic Media’s Marketing & Consumer Products Group.
Looking back in the context of the last 10 years – there’s never been a more exciting time in children’s media. And with that – the challenges have never been greater and the questions never more interesting. A few themes are dominating the dialogue at every level and I have a feeling they will continue to do so into the next decade:
- Global: The media marketplace is global. There’s more pressure than ever before to ensure that the content we create is relevant globally. It is not profitable or practical to develop brands exclusively for a domestic audience. As a result, co-production partnerships will be more prevalent.
- Content Creation: With the rapid growth of the digital media landscape and the ubiquity of screens, there is much more choice and therefore more competition. While this has greatly expanded the opportunity to develop new content and capture share of mind, to ensure success – content creation requires a multi-platform strategy. Properties can be incubated and launched on a variety of platforms – not just television – and how we choose to extend them over time will not resemble the model of the past decade.
- The Customer / Audience: The customer/audience is now in charge; kids have more control over what they watch, what they play, and how to communicate than ever before. We must be aware of their needs – and use of variety of media including social media to re-define how we respond to them and their families. As part of a company that has long met the needs of children and families with beloved brands such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Goosebumps and The 39 Clues, I’ve never been more excited about the tools we now have to understand families and the speed with which we can deliver a digital strategy.
- Discovery & Distribution: The models have been upended and the competitive landscape is crowded; it’s never been more important for our marketers to effectively differentiate our product. New kinds of partnerships are required on a wide variety of platforms – which in turn require more creativity and flexibility to implement, exploit and leverage them for long term success.
- Monetization: With the introduction of new digital delivery platforms, partnerships for content creation and distribution will begin to morph. As a result, the financial models will necessitate new pricing and distribution strategies.
Looking ahead – the ever-evolving global media marketplace presents more choice and more competition, requiring that we have a stronger customer focus. Although the rate of change is staggering, some things will stay the same. Great storytelling and Scholastic’s ability to meet the needs of children and families will continue to define what we do – from growing new franchise properties to redefining children’s reading experiences with Storia, our new ereading system. Quality and relevance have never been more important – and kids and families depend on us for it. That will not change.
Fred Seibert, Founder & Executive Producer, Frederator Studios
During the last 40 years we’ve lived through an incredible age of creativity and regeneration. But, lately, not so much. The next decade will put the last to shame.
It’s been a tough 10 years for kids.
For the first time in my life forces of evil on the right and left have joined hands and rallied against kids media habits. The right hates sex and the left hates violence. They both seem to hate kids.
Then, after a 20 year renaissance into the second golden age of cartoons, the past decade seems to be back in a mode where there’s a systemic distrust of truly creative creators.*
And, the goose that lays the golden eggs, advertising, has temporarily begun to abandon our kids as well.
But, all is not lost! The DIY culture of the internet is spawning more exciting and creative results than the entire 20th Century and great creative products will save all our children!
No longer will those of us who think we know it all –yes, me included– be in a position to know anything. True democratization is destroying the walls that separated the great from the shrewd.
We’re lucky to be alive right now, watching the wheels go round and round…
*For sure, it’s not a blanket statement. I’m lucky enough to be involved with some of the exceptions.
Disney XD confirms to Cynopsis Kids that the network is developing an untitled pilot featuring Zach Fox, a Pennsylvania native who became popular on YouTube for his humorous improv shorts, music parodies and web series such as Limelight, The CHeeSe and Stoga Gone Wild. Casting is currently underway for the boy-targeted pilot. Fox (now 18) will also serve as the host for Disney XD’s new hidden camera series Just Kidding in which he will pull off his own pranks in each episode. Scheduled to debut this fall 2012, Just Kidding is a Canadian series produced by Juste Pour Rire.
Disney and Mandeville Films renew their deal for another three years, which will include a sequel to last year’s movie The Muppets, which starred Jason Segel and Amy Adams, and a feature film adaptation of the animated Disney Channel series Phineas and Ferb, per THR. This new deal will see the Mandeville Films banner (The Proposal, Beverly Hills Chihuahua), helmed by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, and Disney’s relationship extend to 20 years.
Lawless Entertainment signs a licensing deal with Galison Publishing’s Mudpuppy for The Little Prince, the classic 1943 novella by author Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The new deal will see Mudpuppy develop puzzles, a locked diary, colored pencils, stencils, among other products, featuring artwork from The Little Prince. The line will launch first in the US, beginning January 2013, followed by the UK, Australia and New Zealand in May 2013. Additional merchandise will release in August 2013 in the US and December 2013 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The Licensing Group enters into new licensing deals for several SPD Brands‘ properties, including Heart Girl, Flight Patterns and Malibu Life. Signing on as new licensees for SPD Brands’ Heart Girl are McSteven’s Company (hot chocolate drinks, cake mixes) and Glittertainment (temporary glitter tattoos). Also inking a license deal is Zing Revolution (f/k/a Musicskins) inks a deal to produce products (electronic covers, hard cases, wall coverings, other home products) for Heart Girl, Flight Patterns and Malibu Life. Additionally, Multiprint recently debuted Malibu Life themed back-to-school products in Italy.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Nominate: NOW | Deadline: NOV 1 | Awards Gala: SPRING 2013
Toys”R”Us further expands into China over the weekend with the opening of its first retail stores in the capital city of Beijing, which is in Northern China. Two more stand alone Toys”R”Us stores are set to open in China this September, one in Tianjing Galaxy Mall in Northern China and Nanning Mixc in Southern China. The new Beijing stores are the side-by-side Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us (19,000 square feet) store at the Capital Mall Taiyanggong, and a stand alone Toys”R”Us store (14,000 square feet) in Chaoyang Joy City. With the opening of the two other stores in September, Toys”R”Us will have 30 stores across 21 cities throughout China. In October 2011, Toys”R”Us acquired a majority stake (70%) in Li & Fung Retailing, which operated existing Toys”R”Us stores across Greater China and Southeast Asia. Currently Toys”R”Us operates 100 retail stores in China and Southeast Asia, with another 14 stores in the Philippines and Macau operated as part of a license deal.
The Hunger Games book trilogy by author Suzanne Collins outsells seven-book Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling on Amazon.com in the US, this calculation includes the combined print and Kindle book sales. Worth noting is that the Harry Potter titles were just released as e-books earlier this year. Scholastic publishes both the Hunger Games and Harry Potter book series in the US. As of July 19, 2012, Scholastic reported that 50+ million copies of the original three books in the Hunger Games trilogy were in print and digital formats in the US (23+ million copies of The Hunger Games; 14+ million copies of Catching Fire; and 13+ million copies of Mockingjay), and per the publisher’s website there are 150+ Harry Potter books in print in the US. Amazon’s news was announced last Friday, August 17, 2012, the day before The Hunger Games movie was released on DVD, Blue-ray and Amazon Instant Video. Sure Collins’ series is just three books, versus Rowling’s seven, but what I’d like to take away from this story is that people are reading – sure it may not be all kids reading these books but I think a good chunk are.
Nickelodeon’s Nick News with Linda Ellerbee will address the issue of human trafficking in the new half-hour special Kids for Sale: Slavery in Ghana, which will premiere on Nick at Nite, Sunday, August 26 at 9p. The special tells the stories of Ghanaian kids who had been enslaved and a US boy who is working to help kids return to their families.
Marvel Animation, Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment, Method Animation and DQ Entertainment will release Iron Man: Armored Adventures Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD this September 25, 2012. The new DVD title includes six episodes from season two of Iron Man: Armored Adventures that revolve around the teen genius, inventor and heir to Stark International, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), and his friends as they battle to prevent villains, like Doctor Doom and Titanium Man, from using the stolen Iron Man technology for evil.
Putt-Putt turns 20 with a new mobile version of the game Putt-Putt Travels Through Time from Nimbus Games, a developer/publisher of kid’s mobile games, for iOS devices. As part of the Putt-Putt 20th anniversary celebration, Nimbus Games (www.nimbusgames.com) is also hosting an iPod Touch giveaway and each month one winner will get an engraved iPod Touch loaded with Nimbus Games’ titles including two Putt-Putt games. Humongous (f/k/a Humongous Entertainment), creator of Putt-Putt, Fredi Fish, Pajama Sam and Spy Fox, originally released the K4+ educational Putt-Putt Travels Through Time game title in the late 1990s for PC and Mac. Humongous, now a unit of Atari, introduced Putt-Putt in 1992 in his first game Putt-Putt Joins the Parade (for MSDOS, then Windows in 1995). Nimbus Games licensed Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and Spy Fox from Humongous and has already released the games Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Freddi Fish and the Stolen Shell, Pajama Sam: Lightning and Thunder and Spy Fox in Dry Cereal via Apple’s App store, and plans release them soon on Amazon and Google’s Play store.
Ruby’s Studio, an imprint of the multi-media company The Mother Company (TMC), releases Sally Simon Simmons’ Super Frustrating Day, the newest title in its book series. Targeted to preschoolers, the story is designed to help kids deal with every day frustrations that can come with experiences such as patience and practice. The book is distributed by Ingram.
Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; August 17-29, 2012:
The Bourne Legacy (Universal) PG-13 $17.0m-2 wk total $69.6m
ParaNorman (Focus Features) PG Opening Weekend $14.0m
Sparkle (Sony) PG-13 Opening Weekend $12.0m
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $11.1m-5 wk total $409.9m
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney) PG $10.9m-1 wk total $15.2m
Hope Springs (Sony) PG-13 $9.1m-2 wk total $35.1m
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Fox) PG $3.9m-3 wk total $38.8m
Total Recall (Sony) PG-13 $3.5m-3 wk total $51.8m
Ice Age: Continental Drift (FOX) PG $2.9m-6 wk total $150.1m
2016 Obama’s America (Rocky Mountain Pictures) G $1.2m-6 wk total $2.1m
Source: Rentrak (www.rentrak.com)
Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Thursday, August 16, 2012, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
DISNEY CHANNEL: K2-11 1132; K6-11 783; TWEENS 9-14 662
NICKELODEON° : K2-11 923; K6-11 586; TWEENS 9-14 419
CARTOON NETWORK** : K2-11 625; K6-11 439; TWEENS 9-14 344
DISNEY XD: K2-11 242; K6-11 198; TWEENS 9-14 187
NICKTOONS: K2-11 129; K6-11 94; TWEENS 9-14 67
°Nickelodeon Total Day: Mon-Thurs 7a-8p; Fri 7a-9p; Sat 6a-10p; Sun 6a-8p
**Cartoon Network & Adult Swim share channel space ADSM airs Sat.-Thurs. 9p-6a
Source: Disney from Nielsen Media Research Data
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Cynopsis: Kids PEOPLE AWARDS
Celebrating leaders & innovators in Kids TV
NominationDeadline:October 3, 2012
Awards Breakfast: December 2012
More details coming soon…
Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: Arnold of Hey Arnold, is based on a character from what TV show? Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Kudos to: Brett Ashy-The Ashy Agency/LA; Andrew Cole-Bulgin-Random House Children’s Screen Entertainment/UK.
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