There’s nothing scientific about Bernstein Research’s report this morning based on its recent focus group interviews with 16 mothers. But it’s still interesting in the context of the investment firm’s campaign to disprove Viacom and Disney’s claim that they can license kids’ shows to streaming services such as Netflix without cannibalizing their lucrative, conventional TV channels — especially Viacom’s ad-supported Nickelodeon. The focus groups reinforced analyst Todd Juenger’s belief that the media giants should forego the easy money from Netflix and “do everything in their power” to promote their cable channels: “Even if it means swallowing a year of tough (financial results) for the long-term good.” Kids between the ages of 2 and 11 watch about four hours of TV a day, a source of “some degree of guilt” for most of the moms in Bernstein’s panels. They really hate ads which they say have an enormous influence on their kids — and not just by shaping their product preferences. “Many of the mothers were convinced that commercial viewing somehow shortened their child’s attention span,” Juenger reports. To avoid commercials, several said that they rent movies, steer kids to commercial-free platforms such as
A study published today in the medical journal Pediatrics has concluded that preschool-aged children who watch fast-paced TV cartoons performed significantly worse on executive function (like self-regulation, working memory and attention span) than children who watched an educational cartoon or drew for the same period of time. Researchers used a 9-minute snippet from an episode of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants for the fast-paced portion of the lab study — vs. a PBS series and drawing with crayons – in which 60 4-year-olds were tested and then evaluated. On the surface, it seems they could have saved some money lab fees for this one, as it’s not exactly breaking news that busy, fast-cut programming with loud noises and fantastical images can turn kids’ brains to mush. Still, there has been little data compiled on the subject, and the researchers concluded: “This result is consistent with others showing long-term negative associations between entertainment television and attention. Given the popularity of some fast-paced television cartoons among young children, it is important that parents are alert to the possibility of lower levels of [executive function] in young children at least immediately after watching such shows.”
A year after kids programming producer Cookie Jar Entertainment signaled its intention to broaden its portfolio under veteran TV executive Tom Mazza, Cookie Jar’s EVP and head of Worldwide TV, the company has set up a number of primetime projects in addition to several projects catering to kids. Helping the company’s primetime efforts is former UPN drama head and Regency TV executive Maggie Murphy who recently joined Cookie Jar. Here is the company’s development slate featuring projects for U.S. and Canadian networks produced under the primetime label The Jar and kids moniker Cookie Jar:
It’s all children’s TV and movies today. RHCSE has optioned its next four projects: Fish-Head Steve by Jamie Smart; the Gargoyles series by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler: the Charlie Small series by Nick Ward; and the Princess Poppy books by Janey Louise Jones. All four are being developed for TV animation or CGI, apart from Charlie Small, which may be developed as a film. The Princess Poppy series has sold over two million copies to date. RHCSE made its first move in February, taking media rights to Monster Republic by Ben Horton. Producer/financier Komixx Media Group says it’s on track to raise $100 million to fund all its programming including RHCSE projects.
The great thing about books in these recessionary, risk-averse times is that they’re brands with audiences already built in. It makes them that bit easier to sell.