A Closer Look: The brave new world of Internet entertainment.

During the past few weeks, it seems like everyday there is an announcementregarding a company beginning to broadcast animation over the 'net. WithLevel 13 and Wild Brain recently throwing their hats into the ring withtheir new Internet entertainment web sites, web surfers are starting to seethe beginning of a boom in Internet animation. Level13.net andWildBrain.com join Harvey Entertainment, which launched realcartoons.netjust over a week ago, and Time-Warner, which launched Entertaindom.com lastweek. All of these new contenders are joining such well-known sites asSpumco.com, Shockwave.com, which just signed South Park's Trey Parker andMatt Stone, Atom Films, which launched their site atomfilms.com in March'99, and Showtime's WhirlGirl at whirlgirl.com. Soon after the new yearanother wave of sites are slated to arrive, including POP.com, which isbacked by heavy-hitters, Imagine Entertainment and DreamWorks SKG.

The concept of broadcasting animation over the web is not new; Spumcostarted producing an animated cartoon series specifically for the Internetas early as October '97! What is new is the concept of the entertainmentnetwork that we are seeing today, and the amount of money these companiesare investing. While all of these companies have different approaches andbusiness plans as no one quite knows yet how to tackle this wild and woolyworld, one thing is clear -- the potential for selling animationmerchandise on the web is very appealing. If these shows and networks takeoff, the hats, T-shirts, tapes, mugs and toys that they are selling intheir site stores could make a fortune. Not every show we've seen so far isa potential Pokemon, and the technology behind these shows is not yetperfect, but there is something about an audience that can immediatelyorder merchandise based on the show they have just watched. Talk abouttaking advantage of the impulse buying urge! In a world ofinstant-gratification, the fact that folks don't have to go anywhere andhunt down branded merchandise might just be one of the ways these newanimation outlets pay for themselves and new animation!

Here is a brief selection of Internet and Licensing-related articlespublished in Animation World magazine:

INTERNET:

- The Big Apple's Silicon Alley

Lee Dannacher profiles four of New York City's leading Internet animationcompanies: Funny Garbage, Visionary Media, togglethis and ElectronicHollywood.

- Leading the Animated Internet

AtomFilms, Humongous Entertainment & Cavedog Entertainment, HeadboneInteractive and Cartoon Network Online fill us in on what they arecurrently doing on the Internet, what the future will bring and how theyare making it all financially viable.

- Edutainment and the Internet

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet and kids are made for each other.Ted Pedersen & Francis Moss take us into the world of the post-televisiongeneration. Includes a Flash demo.

LICENSING:

- Gotta Buy 'Em All!

Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman looks at the marketing and licensing scheme thathas turned 150 viscous monsters into the "Pokémon" every kid in Americamust have.

- Learning from Licensing -- What Sells

Attending New York's Licensing show can be like looking into a crystalball. Eric Lurio relates what he's learned on detecting the winners and thelosers...

- The Tanglefoot Chronicles: A Case Study

A little known Disney character, a clumsy but well-meaning horse namedTanglefoot, became a licensing sensation by not being in a film - twice!J.B. Kaufman explains.

- The Entertainment/Marketing/Exploitation Relationship: Two Takes

Buzz Potamkin takes a look at two books on the kids' biz: "What Kids Buyand Why: The Psychology of Marketing to Kids" by Dan S. Acuff, and "TheBusiness of Children's Entertainment" by Norma Odom Pecora.

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