By Elise DeVoe
It's been a big couple weeks for Cartoon Network. On Tuesday, it launched a global re-brand of Boomerang as a cohesive, all-animation, youth-targeted network. And last Thursday, Cartoon Network became the first TV brand to debut a micro-network specifically designed for the small screen.
The brand-new micro-network is called Cartoon Network Anything and it's the next step in the network's mobile expansion, with a platform-specific strategy that provides content not currently seen anywhere else in the marketplace.
Chris Waldron, Vice President of Digital at Cartoon Network, and Beau Teague, Sr. Director of User Experience at Cartoon Network, recently gave us a little more insight into the new platform.
Why was a micro-network designed specifically for portable mobile platforms the right move for Cartoon Network?
Now that mobile devices are accessible to almost all kids, we felt like it was the perfect opportunity to launch a brand new experience on the platform. We're starting to find that kids are consuming content differently on phones versus tablets. So we have been looking at ways to tailor the experience for the different device sizes and the different usage patterns.
Tell us a little about the development of Cartoon Network Anything. How long has the micro-network been in the works? What was the goal at the onset?
We've been developing Cartoon Network Anything over the past year. The initial goal was to create an app that responded to the behavior we've seen kids engage in with smaller mobile devices. Our audience is time-limited and on the go – we know that their free time is fractured between homework, after-school activities, and time with their family. Because of that, we see them turning to shorter experiences on their phones: quicker, more disposable games along with infinite content experiences like Instagram and Vine. They can dip in and dip out of these apps without feeling like they're missing out on anything. We wanted to create something new for those in-between spaces in a kid's life – a chance for them to snack on an infinite stream of fun and funny content.
Cartoon Network Anything consists of 10-15 second videos in addition to games, trivia and more. Besides the bite-sized content, how else is the micro-network optimized for small screens?
The entire experience was designed for quick access without a lot of complicated interface. From a navigation standpoint, our reference point was the phone-friendly swipe gesture. We worked hard to whittle down the entire experience so that the only action required to get more content was to swipe from right to left! That simplicity feels very natural on a device that fits in your hand.
Cartoon Network is also planning to debut original content for Cartoon Network Anything. What can you tell us about the original IP?
While we're not quite ready to divulge IP specifics, we're definitely having a lot of fun thinking about what it means to introduce a new show with a 15 second canvas. Obviously video plays a huge part, but Cartoon Network Anything's format allows us to go beyond just short clips. We're excited about exploring interactivity – from a choose-your-own-adventure template, to mini-games that introduce characters, to puzzles that tease out the show's environments.
Absolutely. We're at a point now where a lot of the Cartoon Network audience was born after the introduction of the iPhone. For kids, a "TV" is the screen on the wall in their living room, the tablet on the couch, and the phone their parent hands back to them in the van on the way to soccer practice. They expect to experience our shows on ALL of their devices. Cartoon Network Anything is yet another example of how we'll continue to bring our shows to them in new ways as technology evolves.