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Wooing Kids and Parents With Kids' TV DVD

24 Oct, 2003 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The home video transformation from VHS to DVD, though moving with considerable speed, is not necessarily a requirement for the children's TV programming market to continue seeing significant growth, said experts last week at a TV DVD Conference panel discussion.

Video Store Magazine, along with The Hollywood Reporter and the Digital Entertainment group, sponsored the Los Angeles event.

“I don't think the fundamentals have changed from VHS to DVD,” said Martin Blythe, VP of publicity at Paramount Home Entertainment, which distributes MTV's Nickelodeon programming among many kids' TV programs. “Kids' TV programming is more meaningful [as a DVD product] than the theatrical product.”

Glenn Ross, president of Artisan Entertainment's Family Home Entertainment division, said he didn't look any further than his young son, who he said could operate a VCR independently at the age of 2 1/2.

“A child can't operate a DVD player,” said Ross. “VHS is going to be around for a long time with kids.”

Ross said initial releases of Barbie material two years ago were just 10 percent in DVD, growing to 35 percent DVD last year and 50 percent this year.

Panelists agreed that the switch to DVD usage occurs faster among boys than girls.

Obviously, the typical bonus DVD features such as behind-the-scenes footage, actor/director interviews, storyboards and bloopers have little place in most kids' TV DVD.

Instead, panelists agreed, one has to take a long look at the demographics for each title to determine whether more bonus features, or more series programming, both of which must be repeatable, are more appropriate.

Along with interactive games, music videos and other kid fare, special add-ons are also created to be targeted primarily toward parents, such as educational fare.

Blythe noted that Nickelodeon's “SpongeBob SquarePants” first-season boxed set, which will be released this week, has a very wide demographic and has as many bonus features and marketing focus devoted to the adult consumer as it does to kids.

“The programming speaks to parents and speaks to children,” Ross said. “There has to be integrity. It's something a parent will trust.”

Dorinda Marticorena, director of kids' marketing at Warner Home Video, concurred, adding that both the Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo brands, including licensed toys, T-shirts, toys and vitamins, are treated as long-term franchises.

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