Internet Video

Going High-Tech To Tap Viewers

8/25/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

They are in control.”

That, according to Cartoon Network senior vice president of program development Michael Ouweleen, is why young kids and teenagers are drawn to new technologies and multiple platforms for their entertainment needs.

“My own kids think it’s insane that we can’t get Cartoon Network in our car,” Ouweleen said.

But preschoolers with iPods? To build excitement for new series Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, debuting today (Aug. 28), Nick Jr. offered sneak peeks of the animated preschool comedy all summer via five- to seven-minute podcasts or “Wubbcasts.”

“How else do you entertain [your kids] in a grocery store?” said Tom Ascheim, executive vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Television. “You give them your iPod for 10 minutes.”

From broadband to mobile, kids networks are reaching out to younger viewers. Here are some examples of their efforts:

MTVN KIDS & FAMILY GROUP

“Our goal has always been to be everywhere our audience is with the best content that they can access, through whatever distribution method they choose,” said Stephen Youngwood, executive vice president of digital media for MTV Networks Kids and Family Group.

Nickelodeon’s Nick.com Web site has averaged more than 13.8 million unique visitors per month and has generated 565 million game plays this year, as of July 31, the network said.

Meanwhile, NickJr.com, aimed at preschoolers ages 2-5 and their parents, reportedly attracted more than 6.2 million unique visitors per month for the same period.

On the broadband front, TurboNick (www.nick.com/turbonick) features over 20 hours of clips and full-length episodes of Nick Toons such as SpongeBob SquarePants and TEENick series such as Drake and Josh. TurboNick reported that the service was approaching 150 million streams as of July 31, with some 39 million streams last month alone.

On the mobile front, MTVN Kids & Family has deals with Verizon Wireless’ V Cast, Sprint Nextel Inc. and Cingular to offer wallpaper, ringtones, clips and games.

Video podcasts of various TEENick shows, Nick Movies and Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards are available via Nick.com and iTunes.

Nick.com, which already offers 300 free online games plans to introduce over 100 new titles in 2006-2007.

CARTOON NETWORK

“Alternative distribution outlets and new technology are not a threat, but a complement to traditional TV,” said Cartoon Network senior vice president and general manager of new media Paul Condolora.

CartoonNetwork.com, which reported over 4 million unique users in June 2006, offers program guide information and online shopping.

There are also dedicated Web sites for Cartoon’s weekday morning “Tickle U” preschool block and its older-skewing late-night Adult Swim fare.

Sprint, Cingular, Verizon and Amp’d Mobile offer Cartoon-themed ringtones and screensavers as well as program clips. In addition, Cartoon has developed more than 90 new shorts from its programs exclusively for cell phones and other mobile devices; and it plans to announce distribution plans for this content shortly.

Cartoon’s Toonami Jetstream broadband offering provides on-demand, full-length streaming episodes of anime and action series such as Samurai Jack.

Cartoon, which offers 140 games on its site, announced last month that it will be developing a massive online multiplayer game, set to launch in spring 2008.

Cartoon parent Turner Broadcasting System Inc. last month upgraded its GameTap broadband gaming service, adding features such as head-to-head play for a dozen games and instant messaging.

THE DISNEY CHANNEL

“Disney Channel’s audience,” said Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for Disney-ABC Television Group, “are early adopters of new technology by nature and have different expectations in regards to how they consume media.”

The network launched a broadband video player in June. Visitors to DisneyChannel.com and Jetix.tv (tv.disney.go.com/jetix) can watch free full-length episodes of series like That’s So Raven and The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on-demand.

Speaking at the Progress and Freedom Foundation’s technology policy conference in Aspen, Colo., last week, Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney said there had been 37 million downloads since the site began offering shows.

Disney is also reaching viewers with mobile and wireless offerings such as ringtones, screensavers and wallpaper, as well as clips and music videos from Playhouse Disney shows; teasers for Disney Channel series; highlights from Jetix programs; and behind-the-scene extras from Disney Channel original movies such as High School Musical.

March