Category Archives: Nickelodeon

For Facebook Friends of SpongeBob

Tomorrow, the 16 million Facebook fans of SpongeBob Squarepants will see the premiere episode of a new SpongeBob 5 episode mini-series called, “Legends of Bikini Bottom.”  The first episode, “Trenchbillies”, launches on the SpongeBob Squarepants Facebook page at 8pm and guest stars Amy Sedaris.  The remaining four episodes will run on Nickelodeon on Friday in an hour-long special.  

My one concern is that kids are supposed to be 13+ to use Facebook, and SpongeBob definitely has some younger fans.  Hopefully mom or dad logs onto their account to watch with their kids, or the kids catch the full special on Saturday, January 29, starting at 10am.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though.  In addition to clips, trivia and message boards, Nick.com introduced a new game of the week with six mini games.  However, to access the final game, fans must tune-in to the Friday TV special to hear the special code.

This is a really nice integrated promotion Nickelodeon!  Leveraging the power of Facebook for episode one, enriching the experience online, but ultimately driving network tune-in for that last access code.  Smart.  I like it.

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FRED

This week I was introduced to Fred.

If you haven’t seen or heard about Fred Figglehorn, hold onto your squirrels.  In real life he’s 15 year-old Lucas Cruishank from Nebraska, but on You Tube he’s a six year-old Kindergarten from a dysfunctional family, with “anger management” problems and a voice that sounds like he inhaled too much helium.  As writer, producer, director, and uploader, Lucas Cruishank has taken the “Broadcast Yourself” tag line to new heights.

Fred launched his own You Tube Channel in April 2008, and today is the most subscribed and most viewed channel on You Tube.  He has over 800,000 subscribers and over 29 million channel views.  A typical Fred video gets 3-6 million plays.  Wow!  Again, he’s 15 years old.

From licensed “Fred” product (Cruishank has signed licensing agency, GR Branding, to manage) and an episode of Nickelodeon’s iCarly (iMeet Fred), to appearances on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life on Deck and The Tyra Banks Show, to hired promotion of Walden Media’s film City of Embers and placement sponsorship from wireless device company Zipit, Cruishank is generating six figures ($$$,$$$) .  A kid with  a video camera has created a mini media empire.

There are no barriers to creating content anymore, and there is certainly no creator too young.  The media world is a new frontier.  Like the famous quote from Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come”.  And if its anything like Fred, its not only fans flocking, but the mainstream media as well.

I’ll Take a TV Show and Supersize That With a Website, Please?

Like a Happy Meal at McDonalds, kids expect more than just a TV show.  They want their Chicken McNuggets and french fries and soda and Happy Meal toy.  Who could blame them?  As technology is capable of providing kids more than television to engage with a property, why not reach kids across all touch points?  Kids are supersizing their media experiences by consuming properties on television, online, through VOD and licensed products and at events as close as your nearest shopping mall.

Look at any one of the children’s networks: Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, PBS Kids Go.  Each network site has, at the very minimum, a web page for each show on-air, if not full-blown micro-sites to immerse kids in the world of their favorite characters.  And don’t forget about the little kids, the same web experience  is true for pre-schoolers.  Programming blocks and pre-school channels like Playhouse Disney, Nick Jr., and PBS Kids Sprout feature the same web content as their grown-up siblings.

While this may seem like media overload, especially for children who don’t know any better, just remember the Weight Watchers method of dieting: Portion Control.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I was chatting with my boss today about last night’s episode of LOST, which I DVR’d because of grad school class.  I joked that I was perfecting my own version of time shifting, as my sister was asking me at 10:30pm what part I was up to, and I replied, “I’m at 9:40”.  My mention of time shifting reminded my boss of a night earlier in the week.

It was Tuesday night and my boss “Kate” awoke to her son “Aaron” crying.  She asked him what was wrong and he said he had a bad dream.  What happened in the dream she asked?  Aaron recounted the dream of a fight with his older brother.  Aaron wanted to watch an episode of iCarly,  but his brother wanted to watch something else.  End of dream.

So what was the matter, Kate asked Aaron?  Aaron started to cry even harder, and told Kate he couldn’t remember the episode of iCarly he was watching in his dream.

“Mom,” he asked, “How do I rewind my dream?”

Aaron is four years old.  He, like many other digital natives, has been born into this world where technology isn’t technology, but just plain old life.  It isn’t strange for Aaron (or me for that matter) to fast forward through commercials on his television, rewind a scene he missed or really liked, or to watch a television show about a 13 year old girl who produces and stars in her own web show.  Similarly, it wouldn’t be strange for Aaron to think he could rewind his dream like other things he sees.

A study was published in “Pediatrics” in May 2007 and noted

“… Infants, toddlers and preschoolers are using media and using it daily.  In addition, the results of this survey make it clear that very young children today are growing up in a media-saturated environment.  For this cohort of children and presumably for future cohorts as well, access to and use of media have become part of the fabric of their daily lives.”

The study goes on to say  there are more unknowns than knowns in this area.  However, while social scientists and medical professionals are quick to point out the potential dangers to child development, they shouldn’t discount the opportunities this new world can offer kids.  There was definitely no iCarly when I was growing up…

Have you heard a child say something like Aaron?  Share it here!


Who are today’s wired and crazy kids?

When I was younger, one of my favorite television programs on Nickelodeon was ‘Wild and Crazy Kids‘.  I enjoyed watching kids, like me, participating in outrageous competitions across the country.  But when I think about kids today, they aren’t popping balloons in open fields across America or pouring chocolate on each others heads.  The ‘Wild and Crazy Kids’ of my youth, are now ‘Wired and Crazy Kids’.

The world has changed.  In middle school, I remember my mom telling me to bring quarters so I could call her (from the pay phone) after play practice.  Or bringing on vacation, a backpack that was big enough to hold my Case Logic 208 CD binder  – so I could have my entire music collection with me.  I wrote my friends letters, by hand, on paper, before going away for the summer.  Yet now, my 16 and 13 year old cousins have already had: two generations of iPhones, Sidekicks, an iBook, a MacBook Air, iPods, the Wii … you name it, they’ve had it.  And even though I consider myself a moderately tech savvy person, my cousins and I represent two entirely different bodies of people.

My cousins, and the kids around them, represent “Digital Natives” – or those to whom digital technology is as natural as running water.  I, on the other hand, am part of the “Digital Immigrants” who remember pay phones, CDs and cameras with 35mm film.  Marc Prensky, who coined the term “Digital Natives”, refers to the difference between groups by the thickness of their accents.  In real life terms, American immigrants from Spain could speak English with a hint of or full on Spanish accent, whereas as the child they raise in the US could speak perfect English.

Real world, digital world – who is to say which is good, better, best?  I plan to use this blog to examine and deconstruct the world today’s wired and crazy kids live in.