Wednesday, March 20th, 2013


Excitement. Momentum. Magic.
Disney Media continues to break records!

Disney Channel: #1 cable network among K2-11 and Total Viewers!
Disney Junior on Disney Channel: #1 in its daypart among K2-5 and Moms!
Disney XD: Highest rated year ever; continues longest growth streak on cable-
16 quarters and counting!
Radio Disney: The only Radio Network dedicated to Kids, Tweens and Families!

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SOURCE: Nielsen. Click here for the full source data

Cynopsis Media Presents: KIDS UPFRONT MARKET

by Cathy Applefeld Olson

It’s still Wednesday March 20, and a fresher-than-usual batch of programming, multiscreen content connectivity and a strong drive toward co-viewing mark the Kids’ Upfront season this year as networks woo advertisers to connect with young viewers and their parents whenever and however they can best deliver their message. Cynopsis Kids! spoke with some of our industry’s biggest decision makers to get the scoop on the year ahead in children’s programming.


“We are focusing on it in every presentation,” Cartoon Network President Stu Snyder says of multiplatform distribution, including the network’s much-touted Watch & Play app. “Advertisers are keen to connect with audiences across media platforms,” he says, and are looking at “things like original content and length of the promotional advertising pod. How do we drive the audience from the TV to digital land and back? What kind of promos can we do that are unique and fun for our audience?”

The push into distribution channels including online, mobile and games is as much defensive as it is offensive. This is, after all, the year kids’ content really jumped over the moon and started re-imagining traditional models. Amazon Studios recently greenlighted the first of six kids’ series pilots to offer its premium customers, followed quickly by a new deal between Netflix and Dreamworks Animation. Just this month Angry Birds creator Rovio jumped the traditional television fence and began releasing a new series of shorts via a channel embedded in its games. And let’s not forget that Smosh owner Alloy Digital just banked an investment of $30 million based on its reach to the coveted teen market and young adult demo.

“We’re having many more conversations with advertisers about Watch,” Rita Ferro, EVP, Disney Media sales and marketing, says of the authenticated products that enable live viewing on remote devices. “Many times clients come to us because they love a piece of content or a character and want to explore a sponsorship that’s not necessarily a traditional advertising model. We figure out the best solution based on their objective. It could be anchored in Disney Channel, tied in through a Radio Disney sweepstakes and mobile opportunities, or through Disney Watch products.” 

Disney is also more heavily linking its online and linear TV audiences, giving popular bloggers on its Disney Junior Night Light web site more presence in the Disney Junior TV schedule.

Nickelodeon debuted its Nick app in late February and is thinking outside the traditional TV sandbox with a new partnership with Brian Robbins and the team behind Internet sensation AwesomenessTV to create a sketch comedy series showcasing new and existing content from the online site. Nick Studio 10, a live, daily afternoon daypart, features four young comedians who make and share content in real time, and toggles between the digital and linear television realms. “Nickelodeon is reinventing itself once again,” Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said at the Upfront. “They hit a generational reset button,” reworking the entire network for audience that’s purely post-millennial.

The screen-agnostic reality of even the youngest viewers continues to redefine multiscreen distribution in the preschool space. Sprout is funneling even more content through its flagship VOD service, which has 1.5 billion views and counting since launch, president Sandy Wax tells CynKids.


Driving all that screen time is a heavy slate of new original and acquired program, much of it based on known brands. The Hub built its audience on the merits of familiar characters and shows like Littlest Pet Shop and Strawberry Shortcake that president Margaret Loesch coined internally as “nowstalgic” programming that can bridge generational viewing.

“What sets us apart are our great brands,” Hub SVP, ad sales, Brooke Goldstein tells CynKids. Many of them are based on beloved kids’ books and authors. This year The Hub will debut Harriet The Spy, and RL Stine has been a network staple since launch, beginning with Goosebumps then with the popular RL Stine’s The Haunting Hour. This year the network is keeping the nightlight on with new series Spooksville, based on the Christopher Pike books.

Nickelodeon is betting big on proven characters, including an animated series based on the Rabbids, those manic video game favorites, a third season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The latter two will see big tie-ins with Turtles and SpongeBob theatrical films on their way in 2014 from Viacom sister company Paramount. And for the first time since the debut of Dora the Explorer, the network is spinning off the show with Dora and Friends, featuring the Latina star having more grown-up adventures, now that she’s 10.

Sprout is counting on veteran kids’ performer Laurie Berkner to ignite the network’s new push into musical content with new series Sing It Laurie. “Music has always been an important part of reaching young kids and families, and we’re really looking at way to bring in more music across platforms, including,” Wax says

Reconnecting audiences with cornerstone brands means sometimes what’s old is new again. Disney is strengthening its Marvel programming block, and will launch a series of new animated Mickey Mouse shorts this summer; Cartoon is beefing up a DC Entertainment block and bringing back Tom & Jerry in a series of new antics for the iconic foes.


– – – S A V E   T H E   D A T E – – –

Cynopsis: Kids !magination Awards Luncheon

June 4, 2013 | 8:00 – 10:00a.m.
The Yale Club of NYC

*Coming Soon: Award finalists will be announced mid-April


Co-viewing is not a new topic in kids’ television but the behavior is taking on a more pronounced profile this year than ever before. Nickelodeon recently unleashed highlights from an arsenal of its research into the psyche of the post-millennial generation that shows kids want to spend more time with their parents. And what better way, opine smart programming execs, than in front of the screen?

“The co-view opportunity is a space that’s really relevant, and it’s only going to grow,” Disney’s Ferro says, pointing to how the network introduced new hit preschool franchise Sofia the First through its mom blog, Babble. Advertising possibilities blow wide open when mom is in the room. “We are now creating packages where a lot of our shortform content also lives online, and creating packages where including bloggers. That’s something new for us.”

Bringing the family together is mission No. 1 at The Hub. “We have a lot of shows that are traditional kids’ shows running in kids’ daytime, but the bigger focus has been put on family viewing,” Goldstein says, adding, “A lot of original series run on the weekend… We have movie night, game night, scary night,” she says. “The idea is, ‘Stay in, order a pizza, and watch TV.'”

“It’s become very en vogue for children’s networks to emphasize co-viewing, but co-viewing and co-doing was always at the genesis of Sprout,” says Sprout’s Wax. Co-viewing is expanding advertising possibilities for the network since it began programming the NBC kids Saturday morning block last July. “It’s different this year,” Wax says. “The real opportunities are within the integrated NBCU family as the company looks at how to aggregate different types of demographics like women and Hispanics, and cross-linear and digital platforms.”


While each of the big kids’ networks has its own distinct take on movie night, they’re all embracing it with gusto.

Disney Channel in particular is amping up the Disney Channel Original Movie franchise with three entries: Teen Beach Movie, which harks back to the networks’ highly successful musicals, just wrapped production in Puerto Rico and premieres in July. Cloud 9, set to premiere next winter, is a drama ensconced in the world of competitive snowboarding. And not to be outdone, Phineas and Ferb are getting their own movie, Mission Marvel, a Disney Channel-XD crossover bonanza that debuts this summer and follows Spider-Man, Iron Man and their superhero friends as they enter the world of Danville on a secret mission.

Cartoon is sprinkling its slate with several big movie premieres, including specials based on the hit series Adventure Time and Regular Show, plus the return of the mighty Powerpuff Girls in their first new program since the series ceased airing in 2005. “This is one of the shows that gets the biggest reaction in meetings” with advertisers, Snyder says.


Live action is alive and very well in kids programming. Even Cartoon Network is wading out into live-action waters, led by Nick Cannon’s sketch series Incredible Crew. “We are Cartoon Network, so our core is animation. But if there’s an irreverent [live-action] alternative with a unique comedy offering, we can stay in that wheelhouse,” Snyder says.

Speaking of animation, this year marks zanier-looking offerings than in recent memory, and a good chunk of them come from the shorts development programs at the likes of Disney, Cartoon and Nick.

“Our research tells us that for kids, funny is a badge of honor, and because funny is in Nickelodeon’s core DNA, we believe our position will ensure our success with them,” Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami says. “We want to make sure funny seeps into every part of their day.”

Cheers — Cathy
[email protected] for Cynopsis Kids!

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director
Denise O’Connor: Group Publisher, Cynopsis Media
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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