From Blizzard to Beach

February presented an interesting contrast in mood and wardrobe alike, as many of the same kids’ industry members – including Child’s Play staff – traveled straight from the single-digit climes of New York City and Toy Fair to the balmy breezes of Miami for the Kidscreen Summit. For those of us based in NYC, the somewhat dispiriting news that we would no longer have the convenience of attending Kidscreen in our hometown was quickly countered by the full 50-degree difference in temperature. Thank you, Florida in February.

At this year’s Kidscreen, the kids’ media space continued to fascinate. Traditional broadcasters upped their impact in digital channels to maintain visibility and engagement with their fans between seasons, while some content developers targeted launches there. The big news, of course, was the launch of the YouTube Kids app, the company’s first standalone app for children, now available for Android and iOS mobile devices. Free to consumers and supported by advertising, YouTube Kids offers a large selection of age-appropriate videos and channels in four categories — shows, music, learning and “explore.” It includes series from popular YouTube channels such as Jim Henson TV, National Geographic Kids and DreamWorksTV, as well as episodes and clips from familiar children’s TV brands like Sesame Workshop and HIT Entertainment.

Beyond that, there was  much talk at Kidscreen about how traditional TV audiences are down while streaming audiences are significantly up, the fact that new kids’ VOD (video on demand) services are popping up regularly, from start-ups and established brands alike, and the changing definition of “TV.” Another trending topic: The impact of kids creating their own content. One of the most interesting sessions was an interview with a 14-year old who had successfully launched his own YouTube channel.

Where will it all lead? Those homes with a TV set in each room may soon be hosting a major garage sale.