Kidsnets Fall TV: Part Two: Teletoon, CBC & Family

Last issue we explored the programming strategy at Corus, and now we wrap the kidsnet preflight check-up by unspooling the highlight reel for CBC, Teletoon and Family.

Last issue we explored the programming strategy at Corus, and now we wrap the kidsnet preflight check-up by unspooling the highlight reel for CBC, Teletoon and Family.

At Teletoon, teen and action blocks are hitting their stride. After a few years of dramatic repositioning – ramping up its teen/adult strategy and adding its first action block last year – the bilingual big & little kid net is holding steady this season with a strong roster of original and acquired programming. Adopting a spread-the-wealth strategy to build up its various blocks, the net is hoping to continue drawing in kids of all ages.

Carole Bonneau, VP of programming, has particularly high expectations for animated sitcom Zeroman (13 x half hours, Amberwood Productions), running Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. The show revolves around a 64-year-old postal carrier who’s an incompetent possessor of superpowers and lives in his mother’s backyard. Bonneau expects the show’s all-star voice cast – Leslie Nielsen takes the lead, with support from Canadian hockey hosts Don Cherry and Ron MacLean – to give it an edge.

Bonneau is also chuffed to have landed the much-sought-after Atomic Betty, that has been sold into 55 countries.

In November, Teletoon is extending its year-old weekend ‘Kapow!’ block by an extra half hour (it will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to showcase The Batman, a darker prequel featuring the hero in his 20s. According to Bonneau, ‘Kapow!’ – which also runs weekdays during the lunch hour – was enjoying awareness levels close to 80% with its target demo of boys aged six to nine in February and March (after just six months on-air). She also credits the block with having helped grow Teletoon’s overall aud on weekends, with viewership by kids two to 11 during these slots up by 17% for the first 41 weeks of the 2003/2004 season, as measured by NMR, Media Advisor.

For the teen-strong ‘Detour’ block on late-night weekends, Teletoon is introducing Delta State, based on a comic book about four twentysomething antiheroes who have no memory of their identities. The show uses a unique animation technique to ‘colourize’ live action with computer graphics, and the resulting style should make it stand out.

One initiative to keep bringing in the teen and adult eyeballs is a new print campaign coming out of Enterprise Advertising, that uses irreverence and shock value to tout some of the net’s edgier shows like Futurama and Family Guy on ‘The Detour.’

The net’s overall share of the 18-to-24 market grew almost 70% over the past year, and it’s also in the number-two poll position for English specialties for moms 18 to 54 with kids under 17, which speaks to co-viewing success.

CBC anchors its after-school space and taste-tests a new game show format

The country’s public broadcaster is looking to beef up its credibility with the eight-to-12 demo this year by offering something special in its after-school block. Enter Dragon Booster (26 x half hours, AAC Kids/The Story Hat), a 2D animated good vs. evil series set in a world where humans and dragons co-exist. It also happens to be the CBC’s first exclusive animated series and is expected to provide a solid action-adventure anchor for the block, which also features Shoebox Zoo, a BBC Scotland/CBC co-pro that fuses live action and CGI to tell the story of a young girl on a quest with a set of magical carved animals that come to life.

CBC is also getting wise to the draw of reality and is hoping its new game show Surprise! It’s Edible Incredible! will satisfy kids’ cravings. The half-hour series, produced by Quebec’s Apartment 11 Productions in association with CBC Television, features two kids who have been set up for a surprise party/game show. The contestants are whisked away to a Montreal studio to compete in front of their schoolmates. Unbeknownst to them, the show hosts have pre-taped visits to the kids’ bedrooms and looked through their refrigerators to gauge what foods they like and loathe.

While food plays a central role in the series – contestants have to race against the clock to produce the best meal and dessert they can – there are other challenges that factor into determining the winner. In the Grossery, for example, kids are forced to eat (hands-free) a food they detest. Prizes are tailored to the winner’s interests and can include anything from a year of free hip-hop lessons, to a week at soccer camp.

Family targets more tweens

The ‘Never a Dull Moment’ branding that’s defined Astral Media’s Family Channel for the last two years has lent the airspace a high-energy, contemporary feel that is starting to capture the attention of older kids, according to VP of programming Kevin Wright. ‘More tweens are watching Family than any other network in Canada,’ he says. ‘Season-to-date, Family is now the number-one network in Canada with kids ages nine to 14, and we’re up 28% with the demo over last year.’

Family plans to stick with its existing lineup of live-action sitcoms to keep tweens tuned in, with new seasons of Disney faves Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven, as well as 26 new eps of Decode’s Radio Free Roscoe. The net has high expectations for this returning Canadian drama, which Wright says ‘started out of the gate like a thoroughbred.’ RFR made it onto the net’s list of top 20 programs almost immediately after launching in January 2004 – a particularly impressive feat given that it only had two weeks of pre-promotion working in its favour. To tease the upcoming season, Family aired a special RFR week this summer featuring two new eps.

Family’s ‘Nonstop Weekend’ block, which features Raven and Lizzie, will also remain intact given that it has drawn in 41.5% more tween viewers since its launch in fall 2002.

For preschoolers, Decode’s Franny’s Feet (13 x 22 minutes, with 26 more eps already acquired for fall 2005) is a charming, 2D animated addition about a little girl who has adventures revolving around whatever type of shoe she puts on in her grandfather’s shoe-repair shop. Another new original, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear (26 x 22 minutes, Amberwood) is about two stuffed bears – one old-timer and one rookie – who do their best to help two children through daily life in their charmingly chaotic household. The bears must always be careful to follow the ‘Rules for Teddies,’ boundaries that preschoolers can identify with.

From ABC Family’s library, the net gets 30 eps of Knock First, a half-hour Trading Spaces-style show produced by Scout Productions. Airing on Saturdays and Sundays at 7:50 p.m., the series charges two contestants with transforming their outdated rooms during a two-day, all-night party with their best friends, a designer and two carpenters. ‘It has humour and tension,’ says Wright. ‘Kids are going to find this pretty hilarious.’ The show also offers up some significant contest opportunities for sponsors, he adds.

Check out the contests running now for Wendy’s and Laurentian:

* Story courtesy sister publication KidScreen Magazine, September 2004