To succeed, children's video programming must target ever narrower demographic segments, said Paul Leinberger, senior vice president of Roper Starch Worldwide, New York.
t industry conference. Studios that are now putting a big push on the children's market, such as Fox and DreamWorks SKG, may find their movies performing below expectations, he said.
"I don't think they are going to be as big as projections from the past would suggest. Although if they are marketed right, they are still going to do very well -- and in the global marketplace, these kinds of videos still have mass appeal," said Leinberger.
As in other industries, companies see that a type of product is successful and try to imitate it. "But there will be a time when we will see way too many of these titles. We will see many failures -- failures that will not necessarily be attributed to just the creative content," he said.
The electronic world children grow up in today is another factor in their changing preferences for movies and video programming, he said. "Kids grow up at a much faster rate than they ever did and they go through ministages very quickly," he said.
Recent animated titles like "Pocahontas," "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Hercules" were considered by some in the industry to be disappointments at the box office. "These films used to have a broad-spectrum appeal, but it is now very narrow," he said.
This trend "has accelerated over the last three or four years and it is a function of who these kids are. For the most part, these are the sons and daughters of baby boomers who are growing up in a very different kind of world, a far more electronic kind of world. It is not a world of movies as much as it is a world of in-your-face video games and Internet usage," said Leinberger.
Carr Gottstein Foods, Anchorage, Alaska, has found an increased demand for children's CD-ROM products, said Gary Schloss, vice president of general merchandise. "Even preschool and kindergarten kids are starting to do things on their parents' computers," he noted.