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.