When we last left the Doctor, he was attending Media – Jeunes 2010 inside the CBC/Radio Canada Mothership….

Children’s television production in Canada has not been spared from the ravages of the current economic climate. Just as video game production in Canada has suffered from a ‘perfect storm’ of economic and market driven events, the world of children’s television has suffered its own storm as well. Government and private funding for projects in the last three years shrunk dramatically – many companies laid off staff right across the country. The market is very competitive. Youth audiences are flocking to ‘live action’ series, which cost less to produce than an animated program. When you consider the success of shows like iCarly or Wizards of Waverly Place, it’s not hard to understand their impact on animated programs. But there’s another issue as well – computer graphic animation. Many of today’s brightest and best young computer animators want to work for companies like Dreamworks, Pixar, or work for computer game studios like Blizzard Entertainment. Today’s technologies make it possible for young animators to strike out on their own and post their portfolios online. The hardware and software are not that expensive.

The issue is doubly difficult for French Canadian animators in Quebec. Creating content for a Francophone audience is dwarfed by the English speaking markets in Canada and the United States. I came away from the conference with empathy for what it must be like to create content for the Quebec market. Much of French Canadian animation is co-produced with European countries and some Asian countries for international programs, including China. The withdrawal of international funding is contributing to their dilemma. The Canadian federal government launched an initiative in 2010 called the Canada Media Fund to encourage more development of Canadian content. It was interesting to note that while a large amount of money was being allocated to different types of animation and new media, there were not many French Canadian projects listed. When you compare the growing success of the video game industry in Quebec this past decade and the provincial government tax industry incentives it provided to game studios, it looks very much like the French Canadian animation industry needs to consolidate and focus on new opportunities for funding and production. They need to create a strategic plan to compete in a very tough marketplace.

(The Doctor thinks to himself – how about Et Dieu Crea’ Laflaque for the English Canadian TV audience!)

It was interesting to see how French Canadian animation companies were looking at how companies like Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel were using the internet to establish a strong online identity for branding purposes, much in the same way that video game publishers use it as well. The research information from numerous sources like Nielsen, Pew Internet American Life Project, or Statistics Canada, makes it very clear that children and adolescents spend much time online as a place to meet and play. Virtual worlds like Club Penguin, Free Realms, and even World of Warcraft are good examples. In the marketing world, you need to be where the target audience congregates to get your message across. Building a strong virtual community is important. Having an online presence that encourages your audience to visit often is quickly becoming a crucial piece of the media puzzle. Or at least, that’s what the Doctor thinks.

Qu’est-ce que vous pensez? (What do you think?).

Doctor Arkanoid

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