How the annual event showcases the power of licensing in the kids’ category.

Steven Ekstract

March 8, 2024

3 Min Read
Steven Ekstract
Steven EkstractLicense Global

The Kidscreen Summit stands as an annual beacon in the ever-evolving landscape of children’s entertainment, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the future of content creation, distribution and licensing. This year’s iteration, held in San Diego, not only marked a geographical shift from its traditional Miami locale but also spotlighted the transformative power of licensing in shaping the realm of children’s media.

Licensing has long been the backbone of children’s entertainment, extending cherished characters and narratives beyond screens into a myriad of consumer products. However, with the advent of the digital era, the industry has undergone a profound metamorphosis, presenting both unprecedented opportunities and formidable challenges. Kidscreen Summit 2024 served as a testament to the industry’s resilience and adaptability in navigating these seismic shifts.

Central to this year’s summit was the burgeoning constructive collaboration between digital content and consumer product licensing. With the proliferation of on-demand viewing and streaming platforms, content creators are exploring alternative revenue streams to finance productions. This necessitates a more integrated approach to brand management, where storytelling seamlessly transcends from screens to store shelves.

Related:March 2024

Keynote speakers emphasized the importance of cultivating cohesive transmedia franchises that harness storytelling across multiple platforms. By embracing interactive technologies such as augmented reality and gamification, licensors can craft immersive brand experiences that blur the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.

Moreover, diversity and inclusion took center stage at the Summit, mirroring a broader societal shift toward more representative media. Licensors are increasingly championing diverse voices and narratives, ensuring children from all backgrounds see themselves reflected in the content they consume.

Another noteworthy focus of Kidscreen Summit 2024 was the rapidly growing emphasis on sustainability in consumer product licensing. With eco-consciousness on the rise, licensors face mounting pressure to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, from packaging to materials sourcing. Sustainability has emerged as a pivotal differentiator in the competitive landscape of licensing, reflecting consumers’ growing awareness of environmental issues.

While the summit highlighted the immense potential of consumer product licensing in the digital age, it also underscored the imperative for vigilance amid rapid technological advancements. Licensors must remain nimble and innovative to stay ahead of the curve, whether by embracing emerging platforms or harnessing data analytics to drive decision-making.

The Summit also highlighted the resurgence of classic properties in contemporary iterations. From reimagined versions of beloved characters, like Dora the Explorer and Spider-Man, to the introduction of a new animated Barney series and Hot Wheels “Let’s Race,” nostalgia continues to fuel engagement and product demand in children’s entertainment.

Speaking of nostalgia, two of the more intriguing newcomers to debut at the Summit were the Hidden Pigeon Company, led by Karen Miller, and Trustbridge Entertainment,  helmed by industry veteran, Bob Higgins. Both entities are dedicated to revitalizing classic children’s book-based properties, recognizing significant opportunities in bringing beloved stories to life through animation.

An oft-discussed topic among attendees was Sesame Street’s iconic character, Elmo’s, viral presence on the social media platform, X, displaying the power of social media as a promotional tool to reach not only kids but caregivers as well. Sesame Street exemplifies what cultural branding and marketing expert, Douglas Holt, refers to as “iconic brands,” cherished as major cultural symbols that resonate on a personal level with audiences. In today’s politically turbulent and uncertain times, brands like Sesame Street offer licensees a wealth of opportunities across various products, co-branding initiatives and experiential engagements.

Looking ahead, the future of consumer product licensing in children’s entertainment continues its inexorable expansion. With digital tools and immersive experiences at their disposal, licensors are primed to captivate young audiences in novel and exhilarating ways. Whether through leveraging classic, iconic IPs or introducing innovative characters and narratives, success will hinge on preserving creative integrity while embracing the opportunities afforded by the digital age. One thing is certain: the transition from physical products to digital opportunities in the metaverse will open new frontiers for brand extensions, propelling the industry into an exciting new chapter in the evolution of children’s media.

The article was taken from March's issue of License Global. Read the issue in full here.

About the Author(s)

Steven Ekstract

Steven Ekstract, a former Brand Director of the Global Licensing Group, has been a leading voice in the licensing industry for more than two decades.

After working in Entertainment Journalism and Marketing including Video Review, Premiere magazines and the Hollywood Reporter, Ekstract founded License Global magazine in 1997, the leading news source for the brand licensing industry. He is often tapped as a thought leader to provide his insights and forecasts on the licensing business.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry Article
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like