February 14, 2023
Kidscreen kicked off Feb. 12-15 in Miami, bringing together giants from across all categories of the entertainment industry to learn from one another, network and make some deals for kids’ entertainment IP.
The conference played host to companies including Mattel Television, YouTube, Boat Rocker, 9Story Media Group, KOCCA, Banijay Kids & Family, GURU, eOne, Gaumont, NBCUniversal, Wildbrain CPLG, pocket.watch, Disney Junior, Sesame Workshop, BBC Studios Kids & Family, SuperRights and so much more, as they participated in sessions from the broad section of issues affecting modern entertainment today.
License Global rounded up three major trends from the event:
Nostalgia Still Dominates – The Return of the Purple Dinosaur
Everyone’s favorite dinosaur friend is back!
Set for 2024, Mattel Television announced it will relaunch the Barney franchise. Expected is content created for TV, film and YouTube, as well as a complementary cross-category consumer products line.
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana is on board to produce the franchise alongside Mattel.
“Barney’s message of love and kindness has stood the test of time,” says Josh Silverman, chief franchise officer and global head, consumer products, Mattel. “We will tap into the nostalgia of the generations who grew up with Barney, now parents themselves, and introduce the iconic purple dinosaur to a new generation of kids and families around the world across content, products and experiences.”
Representation Matters – Diverse Stories and LGBTQ+ Issues at the Fore
A thread running through the event is the intentional work to bring diverse and inclusive stories, business practices and social justice matters to the attention of children.
Lion Forge Animation, the Black-owned, full-service animation company behind the Oscar-winning “Hair Love” short, has tapped All American Licensing & Management Group to develop products for its latest series, “Iyanu: Child of Wonder,” created by Roye Okupe. The series will premiere on HBO Max and Cartoon Network next year.
Says David Steward II, founder, Lion Forge Animation, “We are thrilled to bring ‘Iyanu’ to life with the All American Licensing team. Our mission to produce authentic, genuine content for audiences will only be amplified through our partnership with AAL. With this inclusive production portfolio and this licensing relationship, we will have the opportunity to bring even more diverse experiences to children across North America.”
Keep an eye on Lion Forge in the next two years, as Steward and his team have many irons in the fire, all with an eye to further the representation of Black voices and stories.
With the event placed squarely in Florida, home to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, LGBTQ+ concerns rose to the surface in a lively panel that included Lucia Baez-Geller, member of the Miami-Dade School Board; Linda Schyyler, chief executive officer, Skystone Media; Nadine Smith, executive director, Equality Florida and David Levine, founder and consultant, Lightboat Media.
Florida’s law, officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, restricts public school teachers from hosting instruction or discussion in the classroom on sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was signed into effect last July.
The panel looked at how progressive social policies are being diminished or even eliminated in the U.S., and how the entertainment industry can support the LGBTQ+ community through intentional and thoughtful content that addresses and introduces these topics to children.
“LGBTQ+ inclusion is not only the right thing to do – it works,” says Levine to Kidscreen. “IP owners are seeing success with inclusive content, as audience attitudes shift and younger viewers’ expectations change.”
The Metaverse and AI Continue to Stoke Conversations
There’s a lot of chatter around the conference about how both the metaverse, and now artificial intelligence (AI), can benefit kids’ content.
In several panels on “Roblox,” such as strategies to approach the platform, the need to be more sophisticated and what’s next in the platform, the metaverse conversation was well-covered.
One-to-one conversations, however, all seemed to mention the need to harness the power of AI or at least explore its capabilities. It’s an area that all of us – writers, editors, content creators and consumer products professionals – need to keep a close watch on moving forward. Some are asking, “Are we too late?”
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