Multiplatform Street

A humble, bamboo shoot-eating bear that roams a remote corner of China may seem like an unusual pioneer in the realm of multiplatform entertainment in Canada - a polar bear with a mean slapshot would seem more applicable - but that is exactly what the panda has become.

A humble, bamboo shoot-eating bear that roams a remote corner of China may seem like an unusual pioneer in the realm of multiplatform entertainment in Canada – a polar bear with a mean slapshot would seem more applicable – but that is exactly what the panda has become.

This summer, Corus Entertainment’s YTV channel is rolling out its immersive programming strategy with the launch of Pandalian, an animated series that kids can watch on TV, online and through

video-on-demand (VOD). An international

co-production from Corus-owned Nelvana, which debuted online June 7 and hits TV and VOD this month, it will be counted among the first multiplatform program launches in Canada.

The move signals a clear commitment by the Toronto-based entertainment company to an integrated multiplatform strategy, which taps into the accelerating growth in portable technologies, including VOD devices, and the widespread availability of broadband Internet connections, says Paul Robertson, president of Corus Television. ‘Every new program launch on YTV coming up over the next little while will have a broadband premiere element,’ he says. (Plans are also in the works for other Corus brands, including W and CMT.)

Case in point, strategy’s cover girl Ruby Gloom, will get the multiplatform treatment when she launches in October. The animated series, which features a young girl who befriends the scary creatures that dwell in the closet, will have a strong online presence and Corus is also exploring streamed online content, VOD and mobile opportunities.

As a precursor, the company has announced immersive pushes for

Di-Gata Defenders, a half-hour show about four young heroes targeting boys 6-12, with a site and game for the web and mobile. And Erky Perky, a half-hour animation series aimed at the 6-11 set has brand extension plans that include an offer for fans to script, direct and edit an ep on ytv.com.

For the younger set, on Aug. 14, the company will launch Treehousedirect.com – an offshoot of the brand which provides programming for children under six – that will allow parents to purchase and download single episodes and bundles of full seasons of such shows as Max & Ruby and Babar. A natural move, Robertson says, as demand for online and VOD availability – even prior to on-air broadcast of the program – is strong; the Treehouse TV website receives over 800,000 video-on-demand views a month, which shows ‘parents with young preschoolers tend to be technologically very adept,’ he says.

The launch of the site will coincide with that of the new series This is Emily Yeung, which will have mobile, online and VOD launches before its Sept. 4 broadcast premiere. Also in the fall, Corus will provide content to Smart Place for Kids, a U.S.-based 24/7 digital broadcast, VOD service and website network, along with broadcasters NBC and Telemundo, ION Media Networks and Scholastic Media. It’s being touted as ‘a consistently branded destination accessible across multiple media platforms’ available in English and Spanish.

‘Multiplatform strategies are a natural extension to our integrated sponsored programs,’ says Frank Duyvelshoff, director, business development. And the opportunities for marketers are ripe, he adds. ‘The Pandalian website will include client branding as well as leaderboard ads and we’re currently looking into running a pre-roll ad on the website’s video player as well as a 10-second spot on VOD and mobile television.’

Moving forward, Corus’ strategy is to continually test and explore the multiplatform realm while remaining ‘bullish’ on its core competency as a provider of standard format television content, says Robertson. ‘We really want to take a leadership position in terms of testing out these new technologies and trying to determine the way in which people want to receive content in the future,’ he says, ‘Then [we will] be willing to invest heavily when we can see that the business model is viable.’