In an effort to target their audience’s evolving mobile viewing habits, Cartoon Network announced a new initiative that they are branding a “Micro network.” The Micro network, called Cartoon Network Anything, essentially is an off shoot version of the Cartoon Network (think MTV and MTV2), only it will exclusively target mobile viewers and their habits. The content will specifically be designed to take advantage of capabilities that platforms such as Instagram and Vine have to offer to for their specific users’ experiences in interacting with the Cartoon Network’s content.
Only thing I can say is that it was only a matter of time- and it will not be the last. In truth, it is not the first either. In an article I wrote previously MTV had decided to return to their initiative of creating original mobile audience-focused content, however, this is different. Where as in the previous article MTV was focused strictly on creating video content, The Cartoon Network is more focused on creating interactive content. Whether the interactivity is centered around sharing over social networks, or actual input via polls and voting, The Cartoon Network’s announcement is very notable. In addition, they are branding it as its own entity that will have various products released under it, where as MTV’s was not- it was still MTV. The other differentiating factor, and a major one, is that at the time MTV relaunched their mobile strategy, it was when there was a clear rise in video interest over mobile viewing- but social media had not taken over like it has today. Myspace, Facebook, etc were around, but Instagram, Vine, and other social media mobile-based apps were not popular or even around like they are now. Yes, times have changed, and The Cartoon Network is smart in their approach. Not only are they recognizing the shift in viewing eyes, but they are also acknowledging the change in viewing habits. In addition, their interest, as expressed in the article, is to create content that is more/less catered to their audience, not place content out and tell their audience what it is that THEY (CN) wants them to care about. What could come out of this is a new approach on how video content based companies and networks approach their mobile strategy and differentiate themselves for their traditional counterparts. The challenges they will face will of course evolving around revenue generation and growing competition as more outlets continue to jump into the pool. The other, if not bigger issue, is that it is defining itself as a network targeting the mobile viewer. The challenge is that is within the mobile viewing audience is a multitude of divisions- some prefer youtube, others instagram, vine, cinegram, facebook, snapchat- the list goes on. The concern I would have for them is that the term mobile viewing audience is extremely broad. So let us say you have tv show such as Family Guy that you want to put on the micro network. Unlike traditional tv where the specs and requirements are pretty standard (aside from HD and SD spec differences)- in mobile you have different sized screens, processors, software (ie- not all mobile platforms take Flash), and most importantly- different platforms! The social media sites/apps mentioned above can all be considered different platforms. So in case like Family Guy, for example, if you are trying to go after your mobile viewing audience, and let us say it is split between 3-4 of the platforms above, how will they address this? Will they reformat the content for each one to maximize reach? And what happens when a new platform starts to arise and grow rapidly like Vine and Instagram did in the last two years- will you vacate support of the previous platforms that have an audience already groomed and developed for the next hot thing? But happens if the next hot thing ends up not being the next hot thing when the dust settles? Ultimately because there are so many various platforms instead of just one or two like traditional television, and each has their own unique requirements, how will they be able to keep up and be able to remain relevant and profitable without the quality of the experience being hurt? The most important take-home from this in my opinion thought is the exciting branding tactic that The Cartoon Network is using for this. They want you to think of it as something connected, but different, from its original brand, therefore giving it a personality of its own. As a result, in regards to the multiple platform concern just expressed, it may end up not being a factor because Cartoon Network is not branding its micro-network as an outlet to be everywhere just so their name is there type outlet- they are clearly defining itself as a network. This will therefore, while catering to their mobile audience, enable them to define what mobile means to them and where also because they are defining themselves as a network, not as just a production company/entity.
The Overall Meal
Do you think that the Cartoon Network is onto something or do you think it needs to be more focused?
Please place your response below. Let the convos begin!