03/13/18: Disney ABC’s Rita Ferro outlines Upfront strategy

Good morning. It’s Tuesday March 13, 2018, and this is your your first early morning Kids briefing!


Technology, holidays and music are three focus points for Disney Channels this Upfront season in a bid to connect advertising dots and dollars across the kids and family portfolio and other Disney ABC properties.
“For so many Disney Channel Original Movies, it’s the music that makes them sticky and relevant,” Rita Ferro, president of ad sales for Disney ABC Television, tells CynKids. “We want to bring it into the conversation with what we’re doing in the rest of our business. Clearly the Country Music Awards are a big family opportunity, and that lives on ABC but could have experiences across the portfolio. And the CMAs have a whole holiday programming element. The American Music Awards are another one that can come into the conversation.”
At ongoing private meetings this month after its Upfront gathering in Orlando, Ferro is walking potential clients through four recent case studies: Aflac, Best Western, Great Wolf Lodge and Honda. Aside from them wanting to reach “mom in mom mode,” Ferro says the commonality among the campaigns “is they took advantage of Disney’s linear businesses but also extended custom content we pushed out through social and digital.”
Still, linear TV remains the central driver. For clients that are using first-party data, whether they’re focused on brand awareness, acquisition of new customers or greater ROI, the stats show campaigns with a linear component have best return. “Those who had been exposed to a linear campaign had a higher conversion rate on other platforms,” Ferro tells CynKids. “There’s more of that coming to bear, not only about the traditional advertising model but about custom content.”
A recent Aflac activation wrapped around DuckTales featured the premiere of the partnership on ABC’s Good Morning America, then custom segment on Disney Channel “with the Aflac duck siting back and watching a segment of DuckTales and being fascinated by it,” Ferro says.
Measurement continues to slowly evolve. “Nielsen is the currency we have today, and we use it as we need to,” she notes. Disney is currently incorporating the new SDK into the DisneyNow app, “which will allow us to roll that viewership into the Nielsen number.” Ferro also noted total content ratings are helping Disney “understand what’s happening, not only on PUT [persons using television] levels but HUT [homes using television] levels… while I’m not sure anyone’s ready to transact on that, it’s giving at bigger lens on amount of consumption happening on other platforms.”
In Cartoon Network Upfront news, the Turner net is putting forth its largest-ever slate of content, from a reinvigorated team of creators. New series include Owen Dennis’ magical adventure Infinity Train and Diego Molano’s Latin American supernatural comedy Victor and Valentino. The net also will add more than 30 new games and apps to its mobile and web portfolio including digital extensions of existing series Adventure Time, Ben 10, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, Steven Universe, and We Bare Bears.
Among other new series are buddy comedy Apple & Onion, from George Gendi; Craig of The Creek, from Matt Burnett and Ben Levin; Julia Pott’s Summer Camp Island, bowing this summer; and the recently premiered Unikitty!, the newest series produced by Warner Bros. Animation, and based on the character from The Lego Movie.
Returning series include Adventure Time, with an expansion of the Cartoon Network-Mojang partnership in an original Minecraft ep planned for the summer. Also, Ben 10, greenlit for a third season; OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes; Steven Universe; The Amazing World of Gumball; The Powerpuff Girls; Teen Titans Go!; and We Bare Bears. New episodes of Mighty Magiswords and Clarence will also roll out through the year.
A meeting at the White House last Thursday addressed whether or not violent video games impact behavior of children. The meeting came less than a month after the murder of 17 people in Parkland, FL, that sparked President Trump to question out loud whether violent games play a role in mass shootings. Entertainment Software Assn. reps reiterated their position that video games are played globally but mass gun violence exists only in the US. To which a Parents Television Council Program exec took exception, saying those statistics are not true. “Time is up for the entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children,” said Melissa Henson in a post-meeting statement.
The ESA issued its own statement: “We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices. We appreciate the President’s receptive and comprehensive approach to this discussion.” Of note, the National Rifle Assn. continues to point to violent video games as the reason for violence in children.
The Results Are In
The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Finalists Have Been Announced!

Our finalists are a talented group of professionals crossing the spectrum of television, radio, and online platforms; encompassing all the corners of the industry, and we are pleased to recognize their achievements over the past year at the 7th annual 
Sports Media Awards Breakfast.



Production is underway on new Disney Channel live-action limited series Fast Layne, an action-comedy in which 12-year-old over-achiever Layne, played by Sophie Pollono (The Young and the Restless), finds her orderly life thrown into a tailspin when she discovers a sophisticated talking car named “V.I.N.” hidden in an abandoned shed. Series is exec produced by Matt Dearborn and Tom Burkhard (Even Stevens, Zeke and Luther) and set to premiere this year. Travis Braun (Vampirina) created the series and will serve as co-exec producer; Hasraf Dulull (Origin Unknown) will direct the first two eps.
Nickelodeon gave a 20-ep order to live-action series Cousins for Life. Buddy comedy, from Austin & Ally creators Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert, follows 12-year-old cousins Stuart (Dallas Young) and Ivy (Scarlet Spencer), who come from different backgrounds but are best buds navigating life under one roof with their families. Series begins production this summer in LA and will premiere later in 2018.
Graphic novelist goes big: Netflix made a seven-figure rights deal with Rob Liefeld, whose Extreme Universe of graphic novels spawned Deadpool. Akiva Goldsman (Ology, Transformers spinoffs) is onboard to run the writers’ room that will create a series of feature films based on Liefeld’s characters. Goldsman, Liefeld and Brooklyn Weaver are set to produce; Weed Road’s Greg Lessans will exec-produce.
Sonar Entertainment, in association with The Jim Henson Co., is developing live-action sif-fi series Rift. Targeting teens, the series follows a 17-year-old who is caught between two worlds. In one, she’s a typical high-school student but in the parallel world of Elysia, she’s rebel who teams with alternate versions of her friends from Earth to stop a dark organization out to subjugate both worlds through violence and oppression. Rift is created and written by Simon Racioppa and Richard Elliott (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Fangbone!, Teen Titans).
For bigger kids, Apple scored animated musical comedy Central Park, from 20th Century Fox TV and Loren Bouchard, who created animated Comedy Bob’s Burgers. The show’s voice cast includes Kristen Bell, Titus Burgess, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci. It’s about a family of caretakers who save Central Park and the world.
Freeform has finished casting spinoff drama pilot Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. Sydney Park (The Walking Dead) in as Caitlin, and newcomer Eli Brown was cast as Dylan; together with the previous announcement of Sofia Carson as Ava, they round our the Perfectionist triumvirate. Also in are Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars), and Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl). New show is based on book series The Perfectionists, written by Sara Shepard, who also penned the Pretty Little Liars books.
Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar are in as new exec producers and showrunners of the fourth season of Netflix’s Fuller House. They replace Jeff Franklin, who was dropped last month after allegations surfaced he’d been verbally abusive to writers and staffers.
Universal Kids is launching two lifestyle series in May. Competition show The Big Fun Crafty Show will premiere on May 14. Get Out Of My Room, where homes get makeovers with a teen twist, debuts May 21. Produced and created by Departure Films, along with executive producer Marta Ravin, Get Out Of My Room is hosted by interior designer Claire Zinnecker and carpenter Jerry Brown Jr. The Big Fun Crafty Show, hosted by Carly Ciarrocchi (Sprout House) and produced by Breakthrough Entertainment, features three teams of two kids with one mission: tackling a crafting challenge.
Also new on Universal Kids are DreamWorksTV’s Life Hacks for Kids: On the Road, which premiered on the net March 3, and Junk Drawer Magical Adventures, which debuts May 12.
Emmy-nominated producer/actor Jon Favreau will exec produce and write a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s upcoming direct-to-consumer platform. Favreau had roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Nickelodeon has some serious squad goals for this year’s Kids’ Choice Awards. The net has teamed with 15 digital content creators from 11 countries to form the KCA PrankStars, who will share on the ground and backstage excitement from the event when it goes live Saturday, March 14. The PrankStars also will pair up for the KCA Prank War in LA in the days leading up the awards.
Disney ruled the domestic weekend box office, with Marvel’s Black Panther and Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time taking the top two slots. This marks the fourth weekend in a row of domination for Panther, which crossed the $1 billion mark globally. Panther grossed $41.1 million this weekend; Wrinkle took in $33.3 million in its debut.
Disney’s annual shareholder meeting saw CEO Bob Iger confirm plans to launch a Disney-branded OTT service in Q4 2019, as well as wax poetic about theatrical phenom Black Panther. “The real impact of this movie reaches far beyond the theater. I’ve never seen anything like the reaction we’ve gotten,” he said. Iger also previewed clips of the new Avengers project, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Incredibles 2.
Nickelodeon and IMAX Corp. launched SlimeZone, the network’s first multi-player social VR experiences. Created in the Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, SlimeZone – which allows up to six players to play games, watch cartoons and slime friend​s – debuts at IMAX VR Centres in LA, NY and Toronto; Shanghai, Bangkok and Manchester, UK, are up soon.
Universal Pictures cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the green menace in its reboot of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Film, directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney, is slated to open November 9.
Actor/singer Corey Feldman, who began his career at the age of 3 and has appeared in more than 80 films, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third Young Entertainer Awards on Sunday, April 15. Additionally, 13-year-old Anthony Gonzalez, who voiced the role of Miguel in Disney/Pixar’s Coco, will receive the first “Breakout Young Entertainer of the Year Award.” The awards, which honor youthful achievements in film, TV, music and stage, will stream live on the Young Entertainer Awards YouTube channel.
The Cynopsis Top Women in Digital Awards Breakfast
Sponsored by Horizon Media
Wednesday, March 14th | 8:30am – 10:30am | Espace, NYC
At a time when it is more important than ever to shine a light on the incredible accomplishments of women in every field, we are proud to honor excellence in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media and online content. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with digital’s game changers, rising stars, corporate visionaries and industry leaders!
Jonathan Symington, former VP/GM of global entertainment licensing at Disney Consumer Products, launched The Lantic Group, a business consultancy specializing in building brands through product launches, licensing strategies and international expansion. New company is based LA with offices in the UK, France, Sweden and China.


Today’s Trivia Question: What is Kratt brother Martin’s favorite color? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: A limit of four correct answers from each time zone will be selected.).
Kids Series Anagram: Brain Shape Fend (Email [email protected]; first three respondents with the correct answer who aren’t in trivia will be posted in tomorrow’s newsletter.)
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JOB OPENING: SR ANALYST, MULTI-PLATFORM ANALYTICS/NYC: responsible for analyzing and reporting of Universal Kids linear and digital performance. BA Degree. 2+ yrs exp in research at a media or advertising organization. Knwlg of Omniture/Adobe Analytics incl tagging conventions. Full info/apply HERE (3/20)

JOB OPENING: MGR, PROGRAM SCHEDULING/Nat Geo Mundo/DC: Create daily schedule. Enter it into the programming database on a quarterly basis. Determine availability of Spanish language versions, contributing to the long term strategy. Bi Lingual w/fluency in Spanish req’d. TV exp & US Hispanic mkt recommended. Full info/apply HERE (3/20)

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