The animated winners of Nickelodeon’s 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards are:
Favorite Cartoon: SpongeBob SquarePants
Favorite Animated Movie: Finding Dory
Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie: Ellen DeGeneres (Dory, Finding Dory)
Favorite Villain: Kevin Hart (Snowball, The Secret Life of Pets)
Favorite Frenemies: Ginnifer Goodwin & Jason Bateman (Judy/Nick, Zootopia)
Most Wanted Pet: Snowball from The Secret Life of Pets (Kevin Hart)
#Squad: Finding Dory (Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Willem Dafoe, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy)
Favorite Video Game: Just Dance 2017
Kristin Brzoznowski looks back on last year’s kids’ programming trends, including the launch of several new streaming services and apps dedicated to children’s content.
Several new streaming services and apps dedicated to children’s programming popped up throughout the year. Sweden’s Svensk Filmindustri, for one, released SF Kids Play, a new SVOD platform featuring a variety of classic and new children’s TV series and movies from around the world. Kidoodle.TV, a streaming entertainment service for children from A Parent Media Co., became available in 145 countries through Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Amazon Prime Video also announced that it is going global, and original kids’ shows have been a staple of its slate from early on. The service has been putting up more children’s programs for its pilot process, through which it is bringing to series a reimagining of Sid and Marty Krofft’s classic 1970s Saturday morning series Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Netflix, too, stocked up on kids’ originals last year, while Hulu opted to bolster its slate by signing a deal that sees full previous seasons of Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD series being made available on the streaming platform.
Kidscreen has unveiled the results of its 2016 “Hot50″ ranking of the year’s best in broadcasting, production, distribution, licensing and digital media. The list was voted by Kidscreen magazine and newsletter subscribers, who were invited to pick their favorites over a three-week period.
The final results by category are:
2. Cartoon Network
3. PBS KIDS
6. NBCU Sprout
8. Corus Kids
9. DHX Media
10. Disney Channels Worldwide
1. Amazon Studios
2. DHX Media
3. Sinking Ship Entertainment
4. Cartoon Network Studios
6. Brown Bag Films
7. 9 Story Media Group
8. The LEGO Group
9. Entertainment One
10. Zag America/Zagtoon
1. DHX Media
3. Entertainment One
4. 9 Story Media Group
5. The Jim Henson Company
6. Sesame Workshop
7. Sinking Ship Entertainment
8. The Pokémon Company
9. PBS Distribution
10. Boat Rocker Rights
1. The LEGO Group
2. Aardman Animations
3. Entertainment One
4. DHX Media
5. Cartoon Network
6. Nickelodeon Consumer Products
8. Sesame Workshop
10. Rovio Entertainment
1. YouTube Kids
2. Toca Boca
3. PBS KIDS
4. Cartoon Network
5. DHX Media
6. The Pokémon Company
7. Sinking Ship Entertainment
8. Rovio Entertainment
9. DreamWorks TV
Genius Brands International has brought onboard children’s and family media executive Margaret Loesch as Executive Chairman of its Kids Genius Channel. Loesch will provide counsel to the channel’s new President, Deb Pierson — promoted from General Manager — as she spearheads aggressive growth plans for the platform.
Loesch brings four decades of success in kids’ broadcasting and family entertainment to the newly created Executive Chairman position. In addition to key leadership roles at some of the most successful kidnets, Loesch has lead development and/or production of iconic programs including Smurfs, My Little Pony, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, X-Men, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, Animaniacs and Transformers.
Amazon has commissioned two series for children, including a reboot of veteran producers Sid and Marty Krofft’s Sigmund & The Sea Monsters.
The live-action series is based on the classic Saturday-morning television series from the 1970s and follows the US streaming service signing a development deal with the pair last year.
The show centres on two brothers and a cousin who befriend a friendly young sea-monster that they must protect from an ambitious sea-monster hunter.
Amazon has also ordered an animated adaptation of the children’s book series Bug Diaries, which follows a comic trio of slimy, crawly and buzzy bug friends whose tiny world offers up huge adventures.
Making its world premiere screening at MIP Junior 2016, the preschooler show Splash and Bubbles has an origin that makes it unlikely to have been made by any company except The Jim Henson Company.
“At the Henson Company, when a puppeteer brings a project to you, it’s very Henson-y,” says Halle Stanford, executive VP of children’s entertainment.
The puppeteer in question is John Tartaglia, who as a teenager started performing Muppets for Sesame Street and since has gone on to create shows such as Johnny and the Sprites. Among Tartaglia’s projects was ImaginOcean, an educational puppet show about ocean habitats that had been performed for kids on cruise ships, and he asked Henson if they thought it could be a TV show.
“We said, absolutely,” says Stanford. “There was a lot of excitement about the show in terms of where it came from but also where we could push it in terms of the animation.”
Italy’s Rai Com and Gruppo Alcuni, together with Spanish entertainment company Planeta Junior and India-based animation studio DQ Entertainment, are collaborating on Pio Rocks! – The Series.
Based on the YouTube character Pulcino Pio, whose channel has more than 1.9 million subscribers and 1.5 billion views, the series marks the first animation co-pro led by Rai Com, the commercial arm of Italian pubcaster Rai.
The CGI comedy previewed at MIP Jr. earlier this week, and is aimed at kids ages five to eight.
Production on the 52 x 11-minute series will begin in January 2017, with the first 26 episodes scheduled for delivery in April 2018.
The show follows Pio and his friends at Highnote High, a school where every class is about music.
Soprano Katherine Jenkins has realised her dream of working with her director husband, as the pair are bringing out a children’s TV series.
Earlier this year, Jenkins told the Standard how she hoped to bring together her background and that of her husband, Andrew Levitas, to create something.
Now the couple have found the perfect project, and today announced that they are busy on a new animated children’s show which will aim to spark youngsters’ interest in music.
Called Symphony Street, it will follow a group of musical characters and feature music from all genres, chosen by classical crossover star Jenkins.
Growing up, I was addicted to almost all of the ’90s kids’ shows. It was a good time for children’s entertainment and I had a voracious appetite for television that needed to be quenched. Funnily enough, the one ’90s kids’ show I wasn’t in love with is perhaps the best the era has to offer: The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
The story of two brothers named Pete was weird, quirky, and way ahead of its time. The town of Wellsville was overflowing with bizarre characters that performed feats of strength, picked up radio stations via plates in their head, and had existential crises while driving busloads of kids to school. Even the theme song was hip, an alternative rock jam from Polaris that screamed grungy cool. I simply was not in the same league as Pete & Pete, but that did not stop me from revisiting the show as an adult. Let me tell you, giving Pete & Pete a second chance was my best decision ever.
I have no doubt there were lots of kids who were pop culturally attuned enough to see Pete & Pete’s greatness in the ’90s, but I could not fully appreciate the show’s charms until I was older. The themes of social disobedience, embracing the magic of childhood, and being as weird as you want to be play so much better now. Pete & Pete is a brilliant show, one that forces you to look at the world in a new and wondrous way. If you have not seen the show in a long time, then you need to plan a Pete & Pete rewatch immediately.
Some interesting thoughts from Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s and BBC North:
We want to reach kids wherever they are, but how should the BBC interact with children in digital spaces they shouldn’t be in – like the growing number of under 13s who use social media despite the fact that most social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter don’t allow children under 13 to join? At the last count, 50% of 10-12 year olds in the UK are on some sort of social media site. Other people are in this space in the BBC’s name, but what is the right approach for us?
The BBC’s CBeebies and CBBC are the only providers of public service TV content for children on dedicated platforms in a sea of non-public service content. We want to have an offer that combines both digital and traditional linear services, so that we are covering both bases. But this requires us to do more at a time when budgets are tighter than ever. What’s the right balance, and where should our focus lie?
We want to stay connected and relevant to kids by providing them with ever more personalised and specific experiences. But personalisation requires data about viewing habits and so on, so what level of data should be collected by the BBC for the provision of services to children? What about permissions, bearing in mind that when we talk about children we mean under 18s? And what should we do with the data we are able to collect?
We want to make sure that, however digital we are, we provide enough content – and crucially, access – for kids who are disadvantaged or vulnerable. We want our digital services to be for everyone in a way that’s democratic and inclusive. How can we avoid (accidentally) putting up digital walls that exclude the kids who may need us the most?
These are just some of the questions being debated inside the BBC right now. I know everybody has their own set of questions and concerns depending on their point of view – producer, broadcaster, parent, carer, teacher and more.
And when looking at how to navigate through the digital world for children, it is clear we can’t and shouldn’t do this on our own, and that neither should anyone else working in the children’s media sector.
To young people, the boundaries and distinctions that have traditionally been established between genres, platforms and devices mean nothing; ditto the reasoning behind the watershed system with its roots in decisions about suitability of content. What does this mean? It means that we have to adapt and start thinking more like they do.