Brand licensing often goes hand in hand with great entertainment IP. So, what do you need to know about this fast paced industry? Award winning licensing agent Caroline Mickler offers her expert insights in our latest ‘Connections’ blog.
The landscape in which kids entertainment and the parallel world of brand licensing sits is changing rapidly. The changes are not only happening where children are searching for and viewing content, but also in the way they look for merchandise associated with their favourite characters.
The retail space is also evolving at a rapid pace. While the traditional bricks and mortar stores are still dominant, online spend is ever increasing. Competing for space in the traditional retail store is becoming harder for small or new kids entertainment brands as shelves are often dominated by large production companies’ merchandise. Online retail becomes an important player for the smaller companies to gain ‘space’ for consumers to find their brands.
As online spend grows, high street stores need to create a reason for people to bring their children into stores. Companies like The Entertainer and LEGO are good examples of how retailers are adapting to this by creating a sense of theatre. When you enter the Leicester Square LEGO store in London, it is not the boxes of the latest LEGO that draws you in, but rather the chance to take your photo in the life size LEGO underground carriage or play at the ‘Pick and Build’ wall. Major toy retailer, The Entertainer, regularly has toy demonstrations and character visits to their stores to keep customers coming back.
Keeping up with the trends
It is not only in-store theatre that is important, but also being quick enough to recognise the latest trend such as fidget spinners or slime. These can be successful married up with your IP. Understanding where kids are consuming content or finding the latest trends is now vital for the children’s licensing industry and moving on with these trends as quickly as the kids do is also a necessity.
While linear TV is still an important player in brand building and awareness for entertainment properties, the way the children are consuming these shows is moving more toward SVOD, and user generated content across a multitude of platforms. The rise of ‘kid influencers’ on YouTube creating ‘unboxing’ content of new crazes and toys is on the increase. Social platforms are not only generating the rise of the kid influencer but also the rise of user generated content. Children are able to snap, video and create their own content on platforms such as PopJam, SnapChat and Musical.ly, creating a whole wave of content that traditional kids entertainment properties are also now competing with for ‘eye balls’ and engagement.
One way retailers and the licensing industry have been able to become part of this fast-paced kids entertainment space is through personalisation. Examples include companies such as LEGO creating the in-store ‘Mosiac Maker’, or Evode group working with toy retailer, The Entertainer to create personalised branded products online and delivered to the store for collection. Online, the children’s digital brand, Bebods give kids the chance to create their own character and share their world via the PopJam platform.
The future is certainly up for grabs by the agile in the industry.
Caroline Mickler is an award winning licensing agent at Caroline Mickler Ltd
It’s the busiest time of the year for the TV industry. And our press office is no exception! Everyone wants to make an impact at market and we’ve been busy doing just that for our clients, announcing some of the biggest deals that happened at MIPCOM. Here’s what we’ve been working on:
Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures sign record 10 feature film MOU with Shanghai Media Group’s Wingsmedia
The biggest animation film cooperation deal took place between Thailand’s Shellhut Entertainment and Singapore’s Tiny Island Productions earlier this month. Both companies signed on a 10-feature film co-production with MOU and WingsMedia, a member of Oriental Pearl Group and Shanghai Media Group. Valued at an estimated USD$250 million, this is the first ever China-Singapore-Thailand animation co-production! Following a buzzing press conference at MIPCOM, news of the deal was covered in Variety, C21, MIP Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Content Asia, Animation magazine to name but a few.
Komixx secures worldwide rights to Wattpad sensation ‘Captured’ by Kelly Anne Blount
Independent film and TV producer, Komixx Entertainment announced it has optioned the worldwide screen rights to electrifying young adult thriller novel Captured; the debut novel from award winning author Kelly Anne Blount with more than 15.6 million reads worldwide on Wattpad. Captured builds on Komixx’s reputation as a leading producer of exciting YA TV and film adaptations internationally. With the announcement featuring prominently in The Bookseller, C21, Variety and the Variety newsletter on the first day of MIPCOM – Komixx is fast becoming known as the leader in identifying content to surprise the YA generation.
Talesmith explores the history of Earth in spectacular new documentary for ZEEL and Smithsonian Channel
High-end, specialist factual production company Talesmith has been commissioned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises LTD (ZEEL) and Smithsonian Channel to produce the incredible Life of Earth: From Space and Life of Earth: The Age of Humans. A world-first collaboration between Talesmith, ZEEL and the Smithsonian Channel – this spectacular two-hour 4K/UHD feature documentary delves into the planet’s extraordinary 4.5 billion-year old history as never seen before. With coverage in the MIP Daily, Realscreen, C21, TBI, Worldscreen and TV Asia – this was one announcement making history at MIPCOM.
Smithsonian channel™ renews hit series ‘America in Color’ from Arrow Media
Arrow Media has been re-commissioned to produce six new hour-long episodes of its hit series America In Color by the Smithsonian Channel. The series, which first premiered in July, presents iconic moments in U.S. history as never seen before – using artistry, an expert colorizing team and cutting-edge technology to transform black-and-white films and photographs into vibrant 4K color. The announcement appeared in Televisual, Realscreen and C21 at an important time during the market to help Arrow make an impact.
Channel 5 orders second season of Naked Entertainment’s ‘Celebrity 100% Hotter’
London-based Naked Entertainment, the production company creating bold, innovative factual and entertainment programming, chose MIPCOM to announce its extreme-make-under format 100% Hotter has been commissioned by Channel 5 for a second celebrity spin-off series. Following the success of the first series, which almost doubled the broadcaster’s primetime average among 16-34 year olds, the four hour-long episodes will air in January 2018. C21, Worldscreen and Realscreen all covered the news with enthusiasm!
TV Azteca and Keshet International join forces in scripted co-development deal for Mexico market
Keshet International announced a scripted deal to co-develop and produce a new original Spanish-language super series (60 episodes) to air on TV Azteca. The series will be developed under the KI banner and co-produced in house with TV Azteca and set to launch in 2018. Keshet International will distribute the series globally. With widespread coverage across the board in Variety, Rapid TV News, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Worldscreen, TBI and C21 – the news comes during a period of tremendous growth for KI in Latin America.
Until next year MIPCOM…
Unboxing took the digital space by storm when it first leapt out of obscurity. It introduced brands to a whole new way of reaching their young audiences and engage with them through a very different type of content. But, what did it mean for the evolution of digital kids content?
Digital content was at the top of the agenda at this year’s Children’s Media Conference (CMC). And conversations across most panels ultimately turned to digital in some regard; What is digital content? What platforms are the right platforms? And how do you know if you’re doing it right?
There was one session that took this conversation to the next level. So Over Unboxing – What’s Next? was a forum for the big innovators in digital, led by Hopster’s Nick Walters, Paul Nunn from Super Awesome, Andy Taylor of Little Dot Studios, Wild Brain’s Samreen Ghani and the BBC’s Rachel Bardill. Here’s some of our takeaways on what the experts think will be taking off in the digital world:
Transition from linear to digital
There is no set definition of what ‘digital’ content is anymore. Content can be different lengths, appear on different channels, and have many different purposes. But, we do know that ‘digital’ is a content destination. All content is digital now and this has been driven by a new young platform-agnostic audience, and apps and Smart TV’s are eliminating this divide between linear and digital almost altogether.
That’s not to say YouTube is cannibalising traditional kids TV as we know it. Brands are increasingly seeing platforms like YouTube as a complementary channel rather than a threat. And we’re seeing the brands that work well in YouTube work well in linear TV as well – take Angry Birds as just one example!
What does content mean on digital?
Creating content for digital requires an element of relinquishing creative control, and letting kids take charge. This approach is allowing user generated content such as unboxing to move forward and challenge the traditional format. It’s a trend that challenges brands to catch up with viewers. Digital is two way interaction and modern content creators are recognising the hundreds of thousands of touch-points for kids to connect with.
But don’t be fooled, that’s not to say a 360° approach is always the answer. The industry is quickly discovering what different content means on different platforms. Creators are looking inwardly and asking ‘is it right for Snapchat?’ rather than just ticking those platform boxes. It’s an attitude that is allowing creators to explore what quality content is on digital. It’s not just about those high production values anymore, and unboxing is a prime example.
Meaningful monetization of digital
It’s an amazing time to be a kids content producer. The move towards original content on specialist digital platforms means there’s more premium content out there, particularly in the SVOD space.
What happens next depends on what the big four tech players decide and what they think kids and parents want. The gulf between low and high cost content is closing up, but isn’t going away until the issue of money for digital kids content producers is addressed.
When you look at the scope of digital, there’s a lot to consider! Bringing together video and interactive is interesting space and opens up kids content to further innovation and ideas. Netflix is taking a small bite of this and will surely set the precedent for what happens next!
By Abi Williams, Account Manager at Franklin Rae
According to Reed Midem, 10,500 delegates descended to the Croisette in Cannes last week for MIPTV. It was definitely much quieter than recent years, but apparently, there were 800 new buyers in town. This begs the question – is it worth attending MIPTV anymore? Perhaps for indies, not so much, especially if you have a distributor on board. MIPCOM is by far the busiest market out of the two, and the “must attend” event, but with that said, there were a number of interesting takeaways from MIPTV 2017…
One of the most informative sessions of the market took place on Tuesday morning. It focused on the future of kids TV and the first half of the session saw Michael Shore, VP and Head of Global Consumer Insights and Foresights at Mattel take to the stage to discuss the future of play.
New age content
According to Michael, the time kids spend watching content has shifted from traditional TV: whilst 59% of time is still spent watching TV, 41% of time is spent on other devices, for example tablets, video game systems and smartphones. The types of content kids watch is also changing substantially. A survey conducted amongst kids aged 3-12 revealed that 69% like to watch full-length TV episodes, 53% like to watch movies and 55% like to watch videos on the internet – this is up by 13%.
It is fair to say that the likes of Netflix and YouTube are defining content for new platforms. For example, on tablets and smartphones alike the majority of kids like to watch YouTube videos over Netflix content, whereas Netflix’s content still dominates TV screens when compared to YouTube videos and traditional programming/live TV.
This new-age content has shaped programming genres quite a bit. Nowadays kids are hooked on watching more user generated content, unboxing videos (video content that captures the unpacking of new products, i.e. new toys, consumer tech, etc… Crazy, I know!), tutorials, videos of other kids playing games, speed drawing, speed gaming, sports/esports and wait for it… jump scares (literally videos that make you jump and scream).
The way kids consume content is changing
So, how do indies keep up with these rapidly changing trends when it comes to creating kids content? This is where Hopster Founder and CEO, Nick Walters and Dan’l Hewitt, VP Non-Linear Programming at The Walt Disney Company came in.
Dan’l stated that within weeks of a child growing older, their interests and the way they consume content changes and they migrate to new content at an increasingly fast pace. In an attempt to keep up and really appeal to varying age groups, The Walt Disney Company works with talent that has the right influence, to stitch content together and create playlists for each creator, ultimately building brand franchises. Mattel is also identifying new ways to stay on trend. A couple of years ago, the company introduced the beloved Barbie as a vlogger. That’s right. Watch out Zoella and Tanya Burr. Barbie officially joined the 21st century by setting up her own YouTube channel in 2015, to share snippets of life in her dreamy Malibu Beach house.
Mattel also recently announced its new Hello Barbie Hologram. Now, at age 58, Barbie is a hologram. The bright pink box contains an animated projection of Barbie, which responds to voice commands. Bring her to life by saying “Hello Barbie” and you can then ask her all kinds of questions, such as “What is the weather going to be like in Malibu tomorrow?” It combines motion-capture animation with Amazon Echo-style voice interactions, and will be available to purchase later this year.
Talking directly to audiences
Nick from Hopster also touched on working with brands and influencers to produce content that is more relevant for kids. Over the years, Nick and his team have fostered great relationships with the likes of eOne, DreamWorks and Millimages to bring some of the best kids content to Hopster, including Peppa Pig, Postman Pat, Noddy and Louie. Nick and the team have also created a platform that lends itself nicely to non-traditional content, which would not potentially work on linear platforms; from music videos and games, to short form content like Punky for example. Punky is a kids animation about a little girl who has Down Syndrome, which teaches kids how to interact with family and that, most importantly, being different is OK.
Unlike linear channels or the likes of YouTube, SVoD platforms such as Hopster can talk directly to their audiences and achieve a much deeper level of engagement with kids – especially if they are based on a subscription model. With over 1.5 million parents subscribed to Hopster all over the world, you could argue that it is the perfect home for long and short form preschool content, that will not only entertain kids, but will help them learn through the stories they love too.
So although MIPTV might have been quieter than last year and the year before that, it definitely presented a good showcase of true trendsetters, who are helping to shape the future of content and more importantly, are willing to impart their insight and wisdom for others to embrace.
By Shereene Witter, Senior Account Director at Franklin Rae.