The Changing Pace of Screen Time with WildBrain

License Global speaks with Lara Ilie, vice president, FAST, AVOD, WildBrain, to understand how the changing entertainment landscape gives brands a wider range of touchpoints for fans and families.

Ben Roberts, Content Director

May 27, 2024

5 Min Read
WildBrain’s “Strawberry Shortcake"
“Strawberry Shortcake"WildBrain

At a Glance

  • How the Entertainment Market has Shifted
  • What Opportunities the has Created
  • The Change in Viewing Behavior

License Global: How has the entertainment market shifted alongside changing viewer demands?

Laura Ilie: Video-on-demand is now central to the viewing experience. Video-on-demand is now central to the viewing experience. Alongside “cord-cutters” (audiences who grew up with cable TV but decided to abandon it), we now have generations of “cord-nevers” who have never experienced entertainment content as part of a cable package. Cord-cutters and cord-nevers are now at the age where they have kids, and their viewing habits provide the basis for how their kids consume content. Kids expect to find content for their favorite brands across all platforms and services, whether that’s YouTube, in games or streaming services. TV has evolved into an experience with deeper engagement for the whole family as they co-view together. This creates strong opportunities for IP owners to engage audiences and grow brands. Today’s kids are fluid across these platforms, sometimes using them interchangeably, so brands need to build this into their engagement and growth strategies.

The original linear TV model leads with broadcast placement as the first step in rolling out products, often with channel and scheduling prominence dictating shelf space and licensee buy-in. With many more platforms and channels to reach consumers directly, there are more opportunities to deepen audience engagement. 

Related:Brands Built on Play

The shift to a more fragmented audience means that brands wishing to build longer-term franchises need to find their audiences in more places. To stand out, it’s essential to have a solid omni-platform strategy to promote content consistently in multiple services. We see that recognizable, trusted brands perform strongly in this environment, winning audiences and share of the consumer products market. The successes of several refreshed classic brands, including WildBrain’s “Teletubbies” and “Strawberry Shortcake,” underscore this new approach.

Lara Ilie, WildBrain

How has that created more opportunities for brands to engage YouTube/SVOD/AVOD/FAST channels in new and meaningful ways?

From a brand perspective, a single-IP FAST channel is an ideal platform as it’s “always on,” serving up high-quality, engaging, trusted content for your brand in a 24/7 stream. FAST stands for “free ad-supported streaming television,” meaning you only need a smart TV and an internet connection, and viewers don’t have to pay a subscription. The channels, which generally vary from compilations of various series to single IP channels, are often available for free on connected TVs and free apps.

Related:Spin Master on Fan-First Brand Extension

It’s a safe “lean back” viewing experience for kids and their parents or caregivers, offering multiple episodes of favorite shows. Well-loved brands with content libraries, which would otherwise not have been acquired by a linear broadcaster, have found a second life on AVOD and FAST, where viewers can access entire franchises. Before AVOD and FAST, older libraries would have only been available online to fans for rent or through a paid download. Now, they can be always available for free with ads.

The expanded digital mediascape of YouTube, SVOD, AVOD and FAST also offers substantial data-driven opportunities for brand owners to expand the reach of their IP; we can understand what characters, episodes and scenes resonate with audiences. Employing a holistic, omni-platform strategy for content across platforms to tap into these interests can make an impact and grow brand awareness. Content for WildBrain’s IP, for example, which includes Teletubbies and Strawberry Shortcake, Caillou, Degrassi and more, is driving engagement and revenue on these platforms. FAST and YouTube channels can also provide opportunities to complement other franchise moments, for example, by supporting the broadcast of our “Strawberry Shortcake” specials with bespoke programming on our FAST channels.

Teletubbies

How does that indicate a change in viewing behavior in the future?  

Family audiences now expect to access volumes of their favorite shows wherever they are. We recently commissioned research into the Generation Alpha experience (those born in 2010 to mid-2020s) and explored the relationship between YouTube and gaming. For these digital natives, there’s a close, symbiotic relationship between YouTube and Roblox. They engage with content on these platforms interchangeably and simultaneously, and parents are also using co-gaming and co-viewing time as a valuable opportunity to bond with their kids and to relax, not simply to monitor them.

FAST channels are predominantly watched on the big screen of a connected TV in the living room, which feeds into the growing co-viewing and co-playing behavior. This is part of why many brands that parents feel nostalgia toward are seeing a resurgence. FAST channels dedicated to a single IP let the audience go deeper and are more likely to help develop fandom and engagement.

What’s not up for debate is that audiences will continue to have many choices. The omni-platform opportunity for IP owners is to build audience engagement strategically so that you ultimately maximize all your content and investment to deepen the love for your brands and licensed products.

From cord-cutters to cord-nevers, the increasing accessibility of content means it plays a broader role in family life, creating an intersection of screen time and traditional play patterns. As families embrace co-viewing and co-playing experiences, nostalgic brands return to the spotlight, and multi-generational content is more important than ever. This interconnected digital ecosystem reflects changing viewing behaviors and underscores the necessity for brands to craft omni-platform strategies that foster deep audience engagement. In this era of choice, strategic engagement ensures enduring love for brands and products alike.

This story was taken from the May 2024 issue of License Global. Read the full issue here.

About the Author(s)

Ben Roberts

Content Director, License Global

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