Kids Business Looks For Grown-Up Boost$1 billion goal in sight as more marketers target parents 3/21/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Kids TV isn’t just for children any
more. A lot of moms are watching
with their offspring, and marketers
are itching to reach those parents. That’s one
reason why this year’s kids market is expected
to be strong.
The kids TV business contracted with the
rest of the industry when the recession hit. But
some on the sales side think the market could
add several hundred million in new spending,
topping the $1 billion mark for the first time.
“We think ’11 and ’12 is going to be Nickelodeon
and Nicktoon’s best year ever,” says
Jim Perry, executive VP, 360 Brand Sales, Nickelodeon/
MTVN Kids and Family Group.
Perry points to last year’s healthy kids upfront
and a scatter market that has been robust
for five quarters, with prices currently 25% to
30% higher than they were in the upfront for
inventory in some in-demand weeks.
While the market is dominated by the big
players—Viacom’s Nickelodeon, Walt Disney
Co.’s Disney Channel and Time Warner’s Cartoon
Network—there are a number of newer,
smaller players that are hoping to grab a bigger
share of the pie. The Hub, a joint venture
of Discovery Communications and toymaker
Hasbro, launched last year; and Disney plans
to launch Disney Jr. for preschoolers next year.
Buyers acknowledge the market is strong.
“We’ve definitely seen resurgence, and certain
categories are leading that,” said Darcy Bowe,
associate activation director at media agency
Starcom. “Movies have been solid. Toys have
been big, they’ve really made a comeback,” especially
among midsize toy companies.
In addition to traditional kids advertisers,
networks are getting bigger bucks from categories
like auto, insurance and the travel industry.
“For us, the real growth has been the adult
business, the likes of automotive and packaged
goods and insurance companies actually
running their commercials and partnering
with us on Nickelodeon for coviewing and
for families,” says Nickelodeon’s Perry.
“We’ve definitely had a lot more advertisers asking about coview lately,” concurs Starcom’s
Bowe. “The networks have been trying to come
in and promote their coview story and just talk
about how parents are watching with their kids.
Because as the kids market levels off, there’s
only so many categories that play into it.”
Bowe notes that most of coviewing is on
weekends, when families tend to spend time
together. But she adds there are questions about
whether parents are paying attention to what’s
on the screen: “Are they actively engaged, or
are they in the room doing other things?”
After a couple of tough years, kids networks
are putting more effort into selling marketers
multiplatform packages that include the Web
as well as TV, which helps marketers now that
the price of TV is again on the rise.
“Television has historically been strong, but
people have relied on it pretty heavily. While
we feel there’s a significant role there as well,
we feel there are a number of opportunities,
digital being one, place-based being another,”
says Shane Ankeney, executive VP, managing
director at media agency Initiative U.S. “We
think there are opportunities to connect with
kids in a lot of different ways.”
“Cartoon Network is No. 2 in audience share
in ad-supported kids television, and we are the
preeminent destination for boys,” says John
O’Hara, executive VP for ad sales and marketing
at Cartoon. “If you’re out to reach kids, you
need to utilize our network and our Web site.”
O’Hara estimates about 85% of his advertisers
use both the linear TV network and CartoonNetwork.com. “We do that in a way that’s
very integrated,” he says.
Noncommercial Disney Channel has been
expanding its sponsorship model, creating
multiplatform packages that reach kids and
their parents, according to Rita Ferro, executive
VP, Disney Media Sales & Marketing.
Most recently, Ferro says, Chrysler bought
a sponsorship of the original movie Lemonade
Mouth. In addition to Disney Channel, the
sponsorship includes Disney online and the
magazine Disney Family Fun. The Milk Processor
Education Program tied into the series
Good Luck Charlie and a Magic of Healthy Living
Initiative for a package that includes TV,
online print and radio. “There is an interesting
new way of looking at how you can take that
sponsorship model and really make it work,”
At last week’s upfront presentation, Ferro
began pitching Disney Jr., a new channel
aimed at younger kids that will also use the
sponsorship model, rather than the traditional commercial model employed by boys-oriented Disney XD.
Last year’s new entry The Hub will be coming to market with
some experience under its belt.
“We went into the upfront not having something tangible, so we’re
really excited about this year’s upfront,” says Brooke Goldstein, senior
VP of ad sales for The Hub. She says the network has had
success with coviewing, particularly with its Family Game Night program,
and will be adding new shows this year including R.L. Stine’s
The Haunting Hour and Dan Vs. from Film Roman to complement
Hasbro franchises like Transformers and My Little Pony.
Five-year-old PBS Kids Sprout, aimed at kids 2 to 5 years old,
will be coming to market with Nielsen ratings for the ! rst time.
“Our numbers are very strong, and it opens up a lot of conversations
for us on the advertising side when you’ve got measurement,”
says Sandy Wax, president and general manager of
Sprout. “We’re like a kid in the candy store now we’ve got these
Nielsen numbers. You have accountability, but you also have
tools so that you can really understand your audience.” Naturally,
Sprout’s research shows a high concentration of mothers
watching TV with their children.
Nickelodeon’s Perry isn’t concerned that smaller players jumping
into the kids business will slow down the market leader. “We don’t
think any new players will have any impact whatsoever,” he says.