Each month, Hook sends out a kids newsletter – taking a peek at some of the biggest developments in the previous month, and adding in some of our own hot takes.
Not yet convinced? take a look at this one – it’s a newsletter we sent out in September 2019. Don’t forget to sign up afterwards to get this kids newsletter delivered straight to your inbox each month!
Sometimes this newsletter gets a bit confused about where the line is between kids and adults content. It’s not our fault, honest. It’s the content that’s blurring the lines!
For instance: Adventure Time isn’t just a fantastic buddy comedy for kids; it’s a subversive lol-a-thon with apocalyptic undertones for adults. CBBC’s bedtime stories are another good example – going viral (as they have) by inviting everyone to a “bedtime party with Tom Hardy.” And what’s with the Short & Curly podcast exploring the ethics of cannibalism?
At the same time, big kids stars have moved away from kid’s content into something that’s a bit more aged up. Indeed, when this column sat down with its daughters to watch Disney Channel’s Zendaya (from KC Undercover) in her new show Euphoria we were expecting an age appropriate wholesome slice of American life… not a show ‘so explicit it makes Skins look positively Victorian’ (The Guardian).
Given the above, it’s rather nice to see a resurgence of innovative entertainment more explicitly aimed at kids over the last month (it certainly minimises the chances of Euphoria-style conversations with impressionable 5 year olds!)
Shaking Up Story Time with ‘Choose Your Own Adventures’
Hook was excited to hear kids media is set to become a lot more interactive, with Netflix turning three of its most popular kids TV shows into interactive specials. Boss Baby, Carmen Sandiago and Last Kids on Earth are ‘allegedly’ all set to get the Bandersnatch treatment – with one more mystery slate bringing Netflix’s total to 12 choose your own adventure style shows.
Hopefully, these new efforts will build on previous, less-successful attempts to get kids involved in interactive online content: In 2015 The Secret Life of Boys had iPlayer episodes, where kids could press buttons for extra pranks and secrets; and in 2017 Netflix also tested the waters, with Puss in Book – a choose your own adventure featuring Shrek’s Puss in Boots character. Both received a fairly mixed reception.
Nevertheless, with these experiments in the rear-view mirror, 2019/2020 seems set to be the era of interactivity. YouTube is reportedly looking to invest in interactive programming, despite pulling back on its original commissions and Alexa recently published a choose your own adventure skill. This combined with Netflix’s new push looks set to put children in the driving seat when it comes to the stories they’re being told.
Kidulthood: How Baby and Adult Spaces are Blurring
Over the past 2 years content for parents has been slowly creeping into the baby and toddler space – and vice versa.
The BBC has designed The Baby Club explicitly for ‘parents and carers of babies under 14 months old’, representing a compressed version of a real-life baby club. The CBeebies website and social media also work actively to create a community of parents, offering everything from advice to memes.
We’ve also seen a push to create specific kids’ spaces in channels primarily aimed at adults: ITVbe’s LittleBe is reintroducing the idea of the kids block – showing content for 2-6 year olds from 9am-12pm everyday of the week.
On top of this, TV streaming service Roku announced this month that it will be bringing out a kids and family section and Disney+ announced its latest roster of commissions, including both children’s and adult content.
This column’s Euphoria experience means it isn’t surprised parents are pushing for safer spaces for their kids; as seen in YouTube Kids and Netflix kids. We’re also not surprised to see broadcasters recognising the need for joint viewing experiences and investing in softer content that appeals to parents and kids alike (the enduring power of the show Friends is testament to this).
In fact, Hook were so interested in this we conducted our own research into the powerful joint-viewing experiences of mothers and daughters and what content works best for them. If you think you might be interested in this research pop us an email!
Listen up! Kids Podcasts are Big Business
Despite a slow (ish) uptake kid’s podcasts are set to become just as ubiquitous as their adult counterparts.
Big brands within the kid’s space are looking to create their own content, with the CBBC’s commissioning priorities for 2020 including creating podcasts for their successful kids brands – Tracey Beaker, Diddy Dick and Dom, Operation Ouch, Dengineers and Horrible Histories.
For those without their own streaming platform, national radio station ‘Fun Kids’ launched their own podcast network this month. The Fun kids podcast network will host all their own podcasts, including the long running StoryNory as well as the newly created The Week Junior podcast – a weekly news podcast aimed at kids. As Hugh Fraser, of StoryNory, says – “Kids audio and podcasting is finally going mainstream.”
On top of this, RAJAR’s Spring 2019 MIDAS report has just been released, and it looks like 15-24 year olds now compose 20% of the podcast market (up from 16% last quarter) – further underscoring just how important speech audio has become in the youth space.
Want to know more about this space? We’ve done some research! Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to share it with you.
Some Extra Tiny Tidbits for our kids newsletter
- CBBC created online havoc by ranking its vintage (1990s-2000s) kids show
- Peaky Blinders influences kids most popular names of 2019
- Michael Morpurgo’s Mimi and the Dragon will be the BBC’s Xmas commission
- Parents are asked on average 55 questions by their children each day – according to a Survey by kids TV show Daisy and Ollie