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Kidscreen » Archive » Is vertical content the future of kids entertainment?

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The world is shrinking fast for producers creating content for kids. With smaller screen sizes and shorter episode lengths, content producers are responding with snacks that can be easily consumed on pocket-sized devices.

The reason is simple. Smartphone owners are aging at an alarming rate, resulting in an unprecedented demand for short-form children’s programming, according to the latest data from UK-based research and consulting firm Dubit. .

The transition of children’s eyeballs to smartphone screens began well before the pandemic turned the world upside down. But the fundamental shift in how kids consume content has been accelerated by the quarantine situation, he said. David Kleeman, Senior Vice President, Global Trends, Duvitt. “We knew we would get here sooner or later, but we may have arrived a little earlier than expected,” he says.

With ubiquitous lockdowns, online learning and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, more and more parents around the world have started allowing their children to have mobile phones at a young age.

“Many parents wanted to give their kids the freedom that smartphones bring,” says Kleeman. “Even if they can’t be with their friends, even if they can’t go out, they still want to keep in touch. [their friends]”

According to Dubit’s latest trend survey, 57% of 9- to 12-year-olds surveyed in the US now own a smartphone. In some European countries like Germany, that number jumps to about 77%.

In addition, smartphone ownership among younger generations is on the rise. “In the past, I’ve found that tablets are a rite of passage from when he’s 6 to when he’s 8,” Kleeman says. “But children are now starting to feel that tablets are for babies. It’s a shift from push to pull and young children now want to control their engagement.” .”

Kleeman adds that the current smartphone ownership revolution promises to “completely rewrite the mindset on the part of content creators.”

But one company’s attempt to capitalize on the growing demand among older audiences for short-form shows dedicated to smartphones is a cautionary tale. 2020. The startup commissioned hundreds of millions of dollars of content before shutting down after just seven months.

Kleeman admits Quibi’s launch couldn’t have been worse. It debuted in April 2020 and was DOA, charitably speaking. “The little moments they were programming, like waiting for the bus or a short break at work, suddenly disappeared,” he says. “It was clearly out of their hands, but there were other big miscalculations.”

The critical mistake, Kleeman said, was an underlying inconsistency between the programming Quibi was entrusting and the way it was consumed.

“Content has to fit the platform,” he says. “[The series that they were commissioning] It was too similar to traditional television. I want to enjoy high-budget stuff, I want to see it on the big screen, I want to be immersed. I think people saw it and said, ‘I don’t want to see this in five minute chunks on my phone. ”

Combining mediums and messages is as important in children’s spaces as it is in adult spaces. Antu Harlin, CEO of Gigglebug. In fact, Helsinki, Finland-based prodco has taken this idea to the next level with their new original series. tadpolewas created to be viewed vertically rather than horizontally.

Appropriately set in a pond, the animated series is designed to be consumed on smartphones, Harlin stresses. “of main of the ring, the character is progressing through a quest, moving across the screen from left to right,” he says. “This is for widescreen. Since then we thought tadpole Mainly watched on smartphones, so you have to turn around [and make the action vertical]”

Just as the physical design of the series has to be adapted to fit the specific size and shape of the smartphone, so too has the duration. This is where the concept of “snacks” comes into play. “We know that short content works better on mobile phones,” he says Kleeman. “For the most obvious example, look at the rise of TikTok.”

On smartphones, factors such as the pace of consumption and FOMO (the dreaded “fear of missing out”) make short shows, between 10 seconds and 2 minutes, more valuable than ever before.

“Even if a child sees something that doesn’t really interest them, at least they don’t miss something else,” he explains. “It doesn’t imply a big time commitment, and it’s no big deal if it’s interrupted.”

The challenge with creating short-lived content is that it goes against everything we know about brand building in the entertainment space.

And this consideration is paramount to Harlin. “Do not think [short-form content] You can get deeply involved with the characters on an emotional level,” he said, adding that revenue from ancillary streams such as licensing and merchandising is only possible if that vital connection is solid. “We see micro content on digital platforms as a starting point.

Ultimately, while the changing technological landscape is changing what and how much kids watch, Prodco wants to make sure revenue doesn’t shrink with screen size.

That’s why Harlin argues that the age-old tenets of storytelling must apply.

“Whatever the format, we need people to say, ‘Wow, these characters are great,’ and ‘I want to hear more of this story!'”

This story originally appeared kid screenThis is the October/November 2022 issue of the magazine.

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