February 27, 2015

YouTube Kids Land in Miami


Every year the entire kids content industry (used to be called Kids TV Industry – even just a few years ago) gathers for Kidscreen.

Up until now that gathering has been in New York.  New York in February is a cold and challenging place – it’s still New York, but it’s tough whenever you venture outside.The event was always held at one of those big old Mid Town hotels- the kind where you imagine the New York Fire Department held their annual balls in the 70’s – and to be honest the decor and vibe haven’t changed much since.

Over the past few years, the atmosphere at Kidsceen has been rather desperate with lots of kids producers wandered through the wreckage of their broadcaster led business model. Falling licence fees, collapsing audience numbers, tougher conditions for independent producers as the Big Players pull production and IP ownership in-house all combined to make this feel like living in a town after the tornado has hit…

This year the event moved to Miami – which for those of a certain age is a place of pastel knits and jackets with their sleeves rolled up – and sunshine. Miami in February is 80 degrees, and brightly coloured. In addition to this the hotel was bigger, newer – with a resident DJ spinning tuens in the atrium from 6pm,,,

Also this year we saw the launch of the YT Kids App. It is true that kids have been using YouTube for years (tip: if your audience demo in Analytics suddenly gets older it’s cos kids are watching your stuff on fictional/parental accounts). As you can imagine, the hall was PACKED with kids producers (and YT competitors for sure) all eager to hear about this hugely significant commitment to kids content from the biggest video platform on the planet.

Apart from being as beautifully designed as you would expect – the YT Kids App legitimises production for kids on YT. Now you can upload video and content without the queasy feeling that you should not be doing it really, and perhaps just as importantly – you can talk to advertisers and sponsors – and there is a platform that has actually been designed with the kid consumer in mind. In addition to this Amazon Kids were there in force, buying at really good prices, and the OTT offerings from players like Nickelodeon were up and running etc.

OK for the producer wedded to broadcast things are still super tough –  but this year you could really feel like the new business models and platforms were rising up to meet the need – finally! Yay – kids will always want content and now the platforms are there to serve their shift in consumption preferences. OK so we may be meeting with new faces and discussing new windowing and deal structures – but at least there are real conversations to be had with people who are paid to care about and understand the business…

In a strange way it felt like the change in the weather conditions outside the hotel were mirrored by the conditions inside – and that we have moved from the bitter cold of New York/Broadcast collapse, to the balmier climate of Miami – and a properly emerging on demand ecosystem for kids producers and their audience.

As someone who loves Kids, and loves kids content – it is really good to get out of a wind chill of -20, and feel the sun on my face!

Viva Kids – viva on demand!



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