The consensus in terms of the domination, or otherwise, of the existing kids channels is that they will continue to be central to the kids business, although perhaps not in the linear forms for which they remain best known.
“The future is now, and as we’ve seen across the globe, the ‘main’ kids channel for content ingestion isn’t always a main [TV] channel,” says Nina Hahn (left), senior VP, production and development at Nickelodeon. “Certainly, TV is king, continuing its reign as an incredibly integral platform. However, already now and looking ahead into the future, this is a kingdom populated with many kings: linear TV, digital, VOD and YouTube, and the list is only getting bigger.”
“This is a landscape in constant evolution, and we have to face new competition from AVOD and SVOD services,” says Lagardère Active’s Caroline Cochaux. “We retaliate by being present on those digital platforms and offering a new way of consuming our content.”
KiKa became the market leader in German-speaking territories last year, and Sebastian Debertin says that in this part of the world at least, the traditional kids channels will continue to hold sway. “The German-speaking market in Europe has always been special, as consumers have been very reluctant to accept new technologies or platforms,” he says. “We all remember it took more than 20 years for pay TV to make money here. So, yes, I see that the kids channel in German-speaking Europe will for sure dominate the next 10 years, at least. Let’s talk again then.”
For younger viewers, parent power will ensure linear remains relevant for some time. “When choosing a suitable channel or programme for your children to watch, parents will favour the brands they know and trust, so established children’s channels will remain strong globally,” says Celestial Tiger’s Ofanny Choi.
“At the same time, I think there is definitely room for channels that are differentiated and customised,” she adds. “That is what we are doing with Miao Mi, offering a Mandarin edutainment channel created specifically for preschool kids across Asia.”
For Saban Brands’ senior VP, development and production, Rich Magallanes (left), in a world of choice, allegiances shift from channel to programme brands. “Today’s kids have endless choices when it comes to content and, because of streaming services, are now used to instant gratification,” he says. “Because of this, in a general sense, we’re seeing a decrease in channel loyalty as viewer loyalty becomes more show-specific.”
A seemingly limitless array of choice creates a risk for kids channels that face losing viewers.
The alternative view is that viewers flock to trusted channel brands that curate shows they know and love as a way to cut through the clutter. As of today, no other medium can deliver the number of eyeballs as TV, making it the place to launch shows and build awareness ahead of consumer product campaigns.
“TV continues to be the most important medium for establishing high awareness for a property, and is thus still crucial, especially for our merchandising and licensing partners,” says Studio 100’s Patrick Elmendorff. “We also notice, of course, the increasing importance of nonlinear offers. The development that in some countries broadcasters are even shifting their whole kids programming onto their online or VOD platforms underlines this trend.”
The main kids channels are gradually creating their own on-demand platforms to leverage their brand and respond to the consumers’ need to access content anytime anywhere
Oliver Dumont, eOne Family
In reality, it is not traditional platforms versus digital rivals, because the incumbents are all rolling out their own TV Everywhere and on-demand apps and services. “The main kids channels are gradually creating their own on-demand platforms to leverage their brand and respond to the consumers’ need to access content anytime anywhere,” says eOne Family’s Olivier Dumont (right). “Combined with their strong abilities to create content which resonates with kids, I strongly suspect that they will continue to dominate the kids-content landscape.”
Talk of ‘channels’ may be misguided in this brave new world, others suggest. “Many of the channel brands will still be really important –Disney isn’t going away any time soon – but will running a channel be the most important thing Disney does in five years’ time? No way,” says Hopster’s Nick Walters. “The existing dominant brands will be joined by new brands that grew up outside TV.”
“My guess is that in most territories there will be a mix of the following dominating the landscape: the three studios, one PSB, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and YouTube, plus a limited number of local or regional commercial players, depending on how protectionist the regulators are, and how vigorous the local entrepreneurs are. This will vary by territory,” he says.
Josh Selig (left), meanwhile, is clear that traditional TV is going the way of yesterday’s hair metal bands.
“Linear channels will perish within five years unless they are propped up by governments,” he says. “The parents will miss these channels. The kids will miss them only as much as they miss rotary phones, typewriters and Van Halen.”