Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Kidscreen Day 2 - Show me the Funny - kids and humour

What do kids find funny?

Jeffrey Grant, Senior VP of Research, Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media will tell us.

Research was qualitative and quantitative amongst US kids,

Showed clip from Mad on Cartoon Network, spoofing the movie, Avatar - Avaturd. V funny.

Kids focus groups were asked to bring clips they liked. Questioned about whether the clips were funny - and why?

Polled about what channels have what kind of humour, whether they laugh at the same things as their parents etc

Boiled down to these:

- Slapstick/action humour (usually infliction of pain...)

-Toilet humour - farts, nose-picking, bad breath, vomit, BO, no 1 and no 2 in bathroom

- Parody

- Verbal humour

- Visual humour

- 'Throwaway' humour - like Family Guy, random quick one-liners and cutaway scenes

- Repetitive gags

Kids said over and over again that sounds and sound effects were best part of clips they brought in.

Production quality is often irrelevant

Cultural references can make a clip funny, even if they don't understand them. Mad did a CSI/iCarly mash-up which kids loved.

Younger kids like songs as a humorous device

Issues for kids include 'silly' agression - didn't like it to be overly graphic.

Approaches to humour began to emerge:

- Randomness and predictability

- Realism and relatability

- Stupidity

Things parents laugh at that kids don't like?

- Things that don't make sense or they don't understand - Charlie Chaplin (!), the news, movies (the entire Judd Apatow canon...), words etc

What do they laugh at with their parents?

- George Lopez show, America's Funniest Home Videos (but don't like it when someone really does get hurt), American Idol and, puzzlingly, NCIS...

Not sure how much of Cartoon Network's 'secret sauce' you could use in content development but there were some useful insights from  Jeff.  And Avaturd was pretty amusing - even for the older demographic in the room...

Kidscreen Day 2 - OMG - teens today

Featuring real teens specially imported to give us their insight, apparently.

And we kick off with the aforementioned real-life teens, singing acappella in a Glee-type way. Digital AND musical. They are too good to be true.

Stacey Matthias from Insight Media will do a 360 overview of teens and media first, and then we're going to hear from the kids themselves.

Teen identities? Very hard to pin down in this demographic. But what's often missed is how much the kid side is present in their lives even as they face the challenges of maturity.

They're developing as individuals while parents and peer groups influence that, too.

Implications for media creators? What's critical to remember is that you can't create a one size fits all character. Consider stories which allow 'safe risk-taking'. High stakes for girls and boys in social situations. At the same time home is huge.

Panellists - yes, the real teens - are introduced and invited to share an object which identifies them.

Sarah, 15 - a notebook (she's a self-proclaimed writer)

Alex, 13 - a longboard (he likes to skate with his friends and the adrenaline which comes with it)

Chanse, 16 - his state championship ring, they went 12 and 0

Jake, 17 - a pitch pipe, as he sings in Passing Notes, the choir we heard at the beginning of the session.

Rachel, 13 - her phone. (obvs)

Nysialisa, 17 - her handbag

Question: What is something about you that your parents don't know, but wish they did?

- How much stress we're under

- That I am trying as hard as I can

- That I'm really smart, even if I don't look it

What age are you most excited to be?

-Three was a good age

- 17 is the year I get to drive

- College ages - 18-22. Because that's when you get to move on and be independent.

Primary strategy in dealing with parents? Rebellion or negotiation?

- A bit of both.

- Always a good reason on both sides; it's about finding the balance

- It's neither. It's the relationship you have with them

Best digital place to reach teens?

Through an app. And it has to be free or 99c.

Games are good - more than social. They talk about the game of the moment - used to be Words with Friends, now Ruzzle.

Happiness or success? Universal response - happiness.

Fake or mean? Again, universally - fake

Facebook, Cracked, Buzzfeed, Netflix - all cited as web favourites

You Tube got them really energised. 'You can get lost in there'

Top favourite brands:

- Apple (they make everything that I need)

- Apple mail app (and they say kids don't use email!)

- Apple again...

- Doc Martens

- Apple. I encountered it through school.

- Ray Lewis and his under-armour

Lightning round:

Instagram or FB - 50/50

No.1 stresser right now: Homework/school/paying for college

Solo date or group date: Solo - 100%

Average number of texts per day: 100, 20, 30, 50+, 150

If you could fly or be invisible, which: Fly x 5, invisible x 1

Fascinating stuff from extremely articulate and self-aware kids.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Kidscreen Day 1 - Digital Dimension - You Tube

Speakers: Barry Blumberg, Alloy Digital/Smosh (described as SNL of the internet), AlexCarloss, Google/You Tube, Brian Robbins, Varsity Pictures/Awesomeness TV

Subject: Professional YT channels and YT content ecosphere focusing on the Tween audience.

Alex from Google/You Tube talked of Generation C - Connectors, curators and creatives of our time.

Alex talked about the tween audience in this context.  Gen C is lifeblood of their platform.  But challenge in 2011 - when started channels concept - was that they were a platform  of
'random awesomeness'. Felt there was an opportunity to give  YT some structure which would deliver return  visits and increased engagement.  AND would help ad revenues.

Wanted to create 'lighthouses' of next generation content.

This is where teens/tweens go daily. They connect with and share the content.

AwesomenessTV 70 m views in 6 months, targeting tween audience. Well received by investors - and the Wall Street Journal.  Started with a meeting with Fred, early YT star from Omaha, Nebraska and decision not to take him into mainstream media (MSM). Immediacy was key attractor - make stuff and get it published fast.  Team of 30/40 working on Awesomeness TV now.

Alloy Digital offers a suite of channels - including You Tube's most subscribed channel, Smosh - animation, gaming, fashion, scripted drama and comedy. 94m views  and rising.  21 m  FB fans.  Barry also spotted talent early on  YT - 2006. Kids who lip-synched to Pokemon videos - 9m views. Now lead talent on Smosh.

Secret sauce: Produce regularly, know your audience and give them what they want.

Differences between producing for MSM and YT - no more Nielsen.  Immediate feedback via comments. Pay attention to your community - no arrogance in this space.

Alex from YT says that they create great analytics tools for partners.

Barry noted that seeing some of their content out there makes kids think that they can be creators too.  That can't happen with traditional media.

Teen/tween audience  'lean in' the most, says Alex from Google. They tend to spend most hours on the platform  on a daily basis.  It becomes  a group viewing behaviour  round the computer, instead of  round  the TV.

That said, it's hard to get discovered on YT today, says Brian from Varsity Pictures.

Brian says that IMO is one which relies on social media to drive it - and attract teen girls.  They took big stars on YT and put them alongside stars of  Social media to deliver 5/6 minute daily programme.  Huge hit.

Other sources of revenue apart from YT?  Alloy have some which are 100% funded by YT, others are created with Sponsors or funded  by them.  What's most effective is pairing a brand/channel with an advertiser. Late 2012 they did a programme  for Ubisoft  and launch of Assasin's Creed 3. 30 million views to date.

Alex, from YT, says that majority of funded content on YT is not funded  by them.  Freddie Wong is raising money on Kickstarter for  Video Game  High School, which got 40 m views in Season  1.

Question from the floor about the UK study showing how close kids are to dodgy content onYT which has been released today, UK Internet Safety day.

Alex referred to community guidelines and, basically, ducked the issue. Felt a little like he was unbriefed.

Kidscreen Day 1 - Digital Dimension - Amazon

Speakers: Roy Price, Director, Amazon Studios and Tara Sorensen, VP, Children's Series Development, Amazon Studios.  JJJohnson of Sinking Ship Entertainment moderated - v funny. (Also he won a commission with Amazon with Tumbleleaf)

Amazon going into its first pilot season.  Roy studiously avoided any comment  on how much money they have.

Tara focusing on preschool, transitional preschool and 6-11.  Looking at core  curriculum outcomes in content and mixing it up a  little. Music and maths,  for example.  Less educational material in older demo.  Sweet spot - 8-10s

Traditional pilots 11 and 22  minutes.  Tumbleleaf is one.  Androids and Creative Galaxy are  others. Also doing a series based on Wizard of Oz.  Henson doing Teeny, Tiny Dogs for them.

What is pitching process? Online and meetings.  $10k option payment. Looking for animatics to take to focus groups.  Will look for global rights but this might be on a case by case basis.

Distribution  of finished product?  Will go on and  be  in Prime Video service, through portable devices and set-top boxes.  In UK will be part of Love Film service.

Random hilarity moment where delegate volunteered to Gangnam dance for a Kindle! Bit of a break in the serious business discussion, there...

Tara and Roy both totally blanked on 'What about the Online component?' question. Ironic that a web company is now moving into TV content (and movies)  but hasn't thought about the web element!

Overall, Amazon Studios seemed a little unfocused around their offering.  Maybe a little early to put them in front of a room-full of media executives who are hungry for info?  It feels like they want to be 'disruptive' and challenge traditional  media.  But they're not quite there yet.

Kidscreen Day 1 - Breakfast briefing at the British Consulate

UK@Kidscreen - Breakfast Panel, British Consulate-General, NYC - 5 February 2013

Session title: Finding success in the US -  Getting ahead of the curve

Intro:  Digital natives are now touch-screen natives.  Kids use digital media more and at an earlier age. In 2005 entry level for digital experiences was 8! Every platform provides a new set of opportunities - and new gatekeepers coming online all the time (Netflix, Amazon etc)


Adina Pitt, Cartoon Network - Cartoon just celebrated 20th Anniversary and started off to exploit Hanna Barbera library.  Now a brand which has evolved into a destination kids AND parents want to go to - no longer 'the naughty  channel'. Primarily a boys' channel - no.1 destination for boys 6-11 but 'girl inclusive'.

JJ Ahern - Licensing Street.  Digital has changed everything for his business. Walmart considers their number one 'toy' is iPod Touch.

Chris Angelilli, Random House Children's Books - moving into apps, You Tube videos  etc

Beth Richman, educational consultant and researcher

Silvia Lovato, PBS Digital - works with older demo, starting at 8.  New platforms bring more educational opportunities.

Jess McNeill, New Video


In publishing a lot of crossover success - kids books attractive to adults.  Harry Potter, Hunger games etc.  Retro properties coming back - Smurfs,  Alvin & Chipmunks etc

On-demand video is exploding.  Kids are 'media snacking'.  New Video looking at ever-expanding kids output on new video providers' platforms - Hulu, Netflix, Amazon etc - and creating bespoke, safe experiences for kids.

PBS Digital works very closely with tv programme-makers/commissioners.  New technology benefits kids with different learning styles.  Content has become more integrated  at outset and asset-sharing and capture planned at that stage - they don't put the broccoli on top of the cookie once it's baked!  Sometimes kids get to know characters from digital properties first and this can cause clashes when they see characters they know from apps on TV.

In the US, curriculum is increasingly part of the development process at the outset - and on multiple platforms.

According  to Adina from Cartoon Network, content can be sourced from all kinds of places now, in addition to the traditional pitch.  A lot of games/apps are crossing into on-air content.  The state of the economy is the elephant in the room.  Budgets have to go much further.

Dubit's virtual world commission for PBS was mentioned by Silvia Lovato and recommended because the research and audience insight was so strong.

Big challenge is migrating games from flash on web to mobile platforms.  Build for all devices! Big need...

Social media and web is being used more and more by buyers to do research on brands/properties. Social media marketing also more important to impress buyers.

Commission for web alone - PBS have done this.

Non-broadcast players - iTunes (pay for  download), subscription (Netflix), ad-supported (Hulu). Hulu now doing dedicated kids section which is commercial free and plays to  parents' desire to avoid marketing messages.

How much should production companies come to commissioners with full 360 package, including digital experiences? PBS say come with digital potential thought through. Cartoon Network, however, would encourage producers to 'create a world', not just brand extensions.  Make core idea very strong and  come to the table  with a strong concept, and maybe interactive ideas in back pocket.

The 'transmedia' word.  Is it an eye-roller or still valid in pitching? Let's get back to 360 or cross-platform!

Tips for what you shouldn't do at Kidscreen:

- Don't tell broadcasters who else loves your property

- Don't try to be everything to everyone

- Understand your audience and keep your target specific

- Don't try to do too much from an educational perspective

- Don't be overwhelmed.  Make partnerships

- Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Know who you're pitching to.

Monday, February 04, 2013

NYC - Day One

It's almost twenty-three years to the week since my first visit to New York - and indeed to the US.

I'd come to work at the BBC on a three-month attachment as a researcher/director and had been given a studio apartment on West 14th Street. Arriving on a Saturday evening I woke early the next morning, with the obligatory jet-lag, and to the sound of ambulances racing along 14th Street, 21 floors below.

I will never forget my first hour or so in New York on a chilly February Sunday. The streets were deserted and I felt like I had Greenwich Village to myself. I discovered the Food Emporium - first experience of an American supermarket - and stocked up on supplies. I bought an enormous Sunday New York Times from a news stand, where the guy was still unpacking the papers. Then I had my first American coffee in the little Greek diner next to the apartment.

And that's how my love affair with America began. Yesterday, on another cold Sunday morning, I set off at 7am to explore the area around my hotel in Hell's Kitchen and felt as excited as I did all those years ago. And, once more, my wander culminated in coffee and a paper.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top tips for a compulsive planner

As someone who loves the research involved in a trip - regularly checking for updates to the reviews of my hotel on Trip Advisor, planning my wardrobe around the Weather Channel (what does one pack for 'damaging winds and isolated tornadoes'?) and even previewing what in-flight movies will be available - finding a blog post from a fellow delegate (and Kidscreen veteran) which helps this particular addiction has been invaluable.

So thank you, Angela Salt from Fun Crew for your fantastic insights!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Editor's note

A little heads-up for anyone about to take a walk down Blog Lane to some of the older posts in here.  Quite a few of the links are dead now - symbolic of the fast-paced, hurly-burly of the new media life? - so please don't be too disappointed if you can't source someone's biog or a long-gone site.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, hai!

It's been a while since I've been on here (only five or so years...) but, in advance of Kidscreen 2013 in New York, I thought I'd dust this blog down and post a few bits and pieces before the summit, as well as reporting back during it.

So, it's a week to go before I head over to Manhattan and, as any good conference-attender knows, it's about this time when you check out the website to see who else is coming so you can plan meetings, drinks, lunches and so on.

And I thought I really should share some of the more interesting titles in the Summit's delegate list.  All these are real, folks:

- Evangelist - Film, Animation and Gaming

- Executive in Charge of the Space

- Extraterrestrial Rights Manager

- Manager of TV Ra Tim Bum

- Partner and Channel Socialist

In amongst the CEOs, Directors and VPs, these are obviously the ones to seek out for some fun and jollity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A mapping meme

As seen on a Twitter post here - 'Dash = Tom Tom on steroids'. It certainly got an enthusiastic response from the floor. Oh, and Techcrunch likes it too.

Video at the Edge

Om Malik from Giga Omnimedia, Joel Hyatt from Current and Mike Volpi from Joost gave their views of video in a web 2.0 world.

Joel Hyatt started with the provative statement that many folk in the room might think that TV is dead. It’s not, he said. It’s just that much of tv sucks. (Cue laughter…) What Current wanted to do, when they started up, was to bring the magic of the internet to tv, not the dumbness of TV to the web.

He gave us some examples of what they're up to, including the launch this week of their 'pod assignment' initiative.

Mike wasn't quite so bullish in selling Joost but he was quietly confident in what it was all about, and who it appeals to.

From then on in, it was a rather tame debate about which was better – UGC on demand or professionally-created content on demand.

Games and the real world

Jane McGonigal is Lead Games Designer at the Institute for the Future (cool!)
and talked about games will connect better with reality. She suggested that networked games work better than reality in three areas:

- They come with better instructions (though, I can't remember when I last saw a young gamer read the manual).

- You get scores, energy tables and get a sense of how you are performing within that world - the kind of feedback you don't get in the real world.

- You also get better community in a virtual world - everyone shares the same sense of purpose.

Average gamer in a MMO spends 16+ hours a week in the game and about 10+ thinking about it. For Jane, this is rational behaviour.

So for many games, virtual reality is beating reality.

A rather radical approach to bringing kids back to the real world is something like Chore Wars - which appears to be quite popular, if a tad ironic. Or a game Jane designed called Cruel 2 B Kind - where you attack people with kindness, instead of AK47s.

Finally, she mentioned a game called World without Oil, a learning tool creating a virtual world around a fictional scenario without oil.

A forecast from Jane is that there will be attempts to embed the dynamic of virtual gameplay into ordinary life. Meanwhile new, 'non-gamers' will get into this space. Result? A new wave of immersive, life-changing games which move into the mainstream.

Keep an eye on Jane's thinking and research on her blog.

Big Media? Friend or Foe?

Amy Banse from Comcast, Quincy Smith from CBC Interactive were interviewed by Josh Quittner

His first question centred around two users Firstly, his brother-in-law, who’s just bought a 50-inch flat-panel monitor, to which he attached his mac, his xbox and his cable box. Then, there’s someone who gave up their cable service, got a super-fast broadband connection into his living room which gives him all his entertainment and telephony.

Past and future in one question – linked via IPTV and new technologies which are becoming more and more mainstream. So how do CBS and Comcast respond to this level of sophistication in the audience today?

Comcast, as largest ISP in the US right now, know that they have a way to create content gateways which they hope will appeal to these users but Amy thinks that cable TV is still here for some time to come.

Quincy, from CBS, feels that, if you do web content right, you can extend your brand and your content beyond borders. What people want to watch on their flat-sceen monitor and what they want online, though, is different. And needs to appeal to both of these viewing trends and appeal to ‘new eyeballs’ at the same time.

He talked a little about You Tube and said that one of the most-watched clips there last week had been a chunk from CBS’s David Letterman Show, where he interviewed Paris Hilton. It wasn’t uploaded by CBS but by someone called Mangoface247, and got almost 4 million views. This is a real challenge for them. (No, really?)

Amy pointed out that online viewing has yet to cannibalise tv viewing and that people just want video. And they want to be able to access it seamlessly, regardless of what screen they view it on.

Josh asked about how each speaker was using social networks. Quincy talked about how the internet can help audiences talk about ‘watercooler moments’ from tv and how they need to facilitate this conversation in next generation tools and applications. In CBS’s case they’re either buying or partnering with companies to deliver these.

A question from the floor from an American living in London who challenged Quincy’s assertion that you can get your content beyond borders as he can’t access some CBS content. CBS Interactive network - Innertube - is offering clips and news on this, said Quincy, targeting the international market specifically. But they need to be careful not to jeopardise their international sales by offering full episodes. It’s a delicate balancing act, he said. And sees cross-border content as having marketing/teaser benefits, rather than duplicating the broadcast service.