Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nickelodeon Introduces Interactive, Play-Along Preschool Videos In NOGGIN App, June 1 On iOS

Original Nickelodeon USA Press Release via NickPress.com:

NICKELODEON INTRODUCES INTERACTIVE, PLAY-ALONG

PRESCHOOL VIDEOS IN NOGGIN APP, JUNE 1 ON IOS


New Interactive, Play-Along Videos Created by New Proprietary Suite of Technology Allows Nick’s Creative Teams to Produce Linear and Interactive Digital Video Simultaneously


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NEW YORK–May 31, 2017– Nickelodeon, the number-one kids entertainment brand, is introducing a brand-new collection of interactive, curriculum-driven preschool episodes in its NOGGIN video subscription service, beginning June 1 initially on iOS platforms. Nick’s play-along preschool videos were created by an in-house team using a proprietary authoring tool which enables the simultaneous creation of interactive digital content alongside the production of linear TV content. This inaugurates the use of a new production model that can grow across all Nickelodeon’s platforms moving forward.

“The introduction of our play-along videos mark the evolution of preschool interactivity that Nickelodeon initiated with Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer,” said Matthew Evans, Executive Vice President, Digital and New Business, Nickelodeon Group. “We can now transform our linear production capabilities through an authoring tool of our own design that allows us to create complementary interactive, digital video that truly lets kids participate in, and learn from the story.”


Nickelodeon’s play-along videos allow preschoolers to engage with their favorite characters by tapping, touching, swiping or speaking to navigate through enhanced educational experiences that promote science, technology, engineering, math and social-emotional skills–all while having fun every step of the way. At launch, more than 30 play-along videos will be introduced, including Blaze and the Monster Machines, Bubble Guppies, Team Umizoomi and short-form content featuring longtime beloved characters Moose and Zee.

Nickelodeon’s new play-along video authoring tool puts the ability to create interactive digital content into the hands of Nick’s show creators, producers and animators. The tool supports real-time scene editing and a live preview that allows the teams to layer in interactive elements, to create brand-new play-along moments within any episode. Interactive writers and producers can also be integrated into a show’s creative team, allowing them to generate engaging, story-driven interactive videos from the start of a production and deliver both linear and play-along versions of the same episode simultaneously. Additionally, the play-along video player can be integrated into the existing Nickelodeon video apps, eliminating the need to download a separate app.


Nick’s play-along videos were also created in partnership with curriculum and research consultants who helped shape the interactions to enhance the existing educational value of the shows. Throughout each interactive adventure, kids engage with content that fosters the development of cognitive, social and emotional skills.


NOGGIN is an ad-free, video subscription service that features hundreds of iconic, full-length library episodes, short-form videos, educational content, music videos featuring preschoolers’ favorite Nickelodeon characters, and more, with new content added weekly. Consistently ranking at the top of the charts in the Family and Kids categories, the NOGGIN App is one of the top 10 grossing Kids apps on the App Store, in addition to being the number-one grossing app for Music and Video in the Family Category on Google Play. NOGGIN was also selected by Apple as an Apple TV app of the year. Currently available for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Android, Fire tablet and Roku devices, NOGGIN has 25 series to date including the recently added Yo Gabba Gabba!, Trucktown, Miffy and Friends and Teletubbies. Additional titles in the NOGGIN lineup include Blue’s Clues, Go, Diego, Go!, Franklin, The Backyardigans and Pocoyo, among others.

Nickelodeon, now in its 38th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

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Also, from VideoInk:

Nickelodeon’s Toddler Focused SVOD Service NOGGIN Gets Interactive

For anyone who has watched Nickelodeon shows geared towards children, like “Blues Clues,” “Bob The Builder,” or “Dora the Explorer,” it’s pretty clear that they try to provide a fairly interactive experience. The regular format usually consists of the host asking a question to the audience followed by a long pause for the audience to “answer.” Of course, and unfortunately, no matter how loud children screamed their answer at the screen, it was left unheard. Dora may have acted like she was listening, but it was obvious she was lying. The TV didn’t work both ways, they could hear her, but she couldn’t hear them. Alas, the kid’s shouts and screams, though done in good faith, were rendered useless — until now.

Nickelodeon is introducing a brand-new collection of (actual) interactive, curriculum-driven preschool episodes in its NOGGIN video subscription service. The new play-along videos allow preschoolers to engage with their favorite characters by tapping, touching, swiping or speaking to navigate through enhanced educational experiences. Finally the screams of children will be heard by someone else than their parents. At launch, more than 30 play-along videos will be introduced, including “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Bubble Guppies,” and “Team Umizoomi.” The programming on the platform aims to promote science, technology, engineering, math and social-emotional skills.
“Nickelodeon invented play along videos at the very beginning with ‘Blues Clues,’ ‘Dora the Explorer,’” Matthew Evans, Executive Vice President, Digital and New Business at Nickelodeon Group, told VideoInk. “Understanding now how kids are using IPads and other tablets, it was clear that it was important for us to bring interactive products into those devices. We’re really reinventing interactive TV for today’s kids.”
Former Maker Studios Chief Audience Officer to Launch Pocketwatch, a Kids’ Digital Content…

Created by an in-house team using a proprietary authoring tool, which enables the simultaneous creation of interactive digital content alongside the production of linear TV content, the format inaugurates the use of a new production model that has the ability to grow across all Nickelodeon’s platforms moving forward. Interactive writers and producers can also be integrated into a show’s creative team, allowing them to generate engaging, story-driven interactive videos from the start of a production and deliver both linear and play-along versions of the same episode simultaneously.

“At launch we’ve been able to use our proprietary suite of tech to make a selection of 31 videos available for launch with a pipeline of another 50 over the next year,” explained Evans. “The Vision is to completely [overhaul] our production pipeline so that as we make and develop new episodes while we [develop] play along videos at the same time.”

Nickelodeon is also in the process of developing interactive videos that cater to its whole audience and not just toddlers, but Nickelodeon isn’t stopping there. According to Evans, the company is also in the process of experimenting in areas around VR and AR.

NOGGINS collection of interactive, curriculum-driven preschool episodes are set to premiere beginning June 1 initially on iOS platforms.

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Also, from TechCrunch:

Nickelodeon revamps Noggin, its “Netflix for Kids,” with dozens of interactive, play-along videos

Nickelodeon’s Noggin is today taking a step to differentiate Noggin from being just another “Netflix for kids” type of subscription video service. Alongside its existing lineup of TV shows and sing-alongs, Nick is introducing a series of what it calls “play along” videos. These new videos, which are also curriculum-based, are designed to be interactive in nature – asking kids to tap, touch, swipe or speak to move through their various storylines.

The idea of interactive children’s TV is an old one. From early shows like “Howdy Doody” and “Romper Room,” to classics like “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers,” shows have been breaking the fourth wall – meaning the show’s stars and characters would speak directly to viewers, and often encourage their participation.

Studies conducted over the years from Children’s Television Workshop later validated this format as a better way to educate kids via TV programming. They found that when kids participated by singing or talking, they retained most of what they learned when tested a month later. This research helped to standardize the practice, which is now prevalent in many shows aimed at preschoolers, including Nick’s “Go Diego Go,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues,” and others.

Now, Nickelodeon is re-imaging how this format can help make its way to mobile devices, where kids may be less engaged than when they used to watch TV. On mobile, push notifications can interrupt the viewing experience, and there’s a world of other games and apps right on the homescreen, becoming kids the second they get bored.

With Nick’s play-along videos, the idea is to make the video content more engaging by requiring kids to interact with the content. Not only will this keep them in the app, it also gives the videos a game-like feel which makes for a better fit on mobile devices where gaming is one of the most popular activities.

At launch, there are over 30 of these interactive videos available from “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Bubble Guppies,” and “Team Umizoomi,” as well as short-form content from “Moose and Zee.” The company says it plans to roll out 65 more over the next year and a half.

The videos themselves were developed in partnership with curriculum and research consultants, with a focus on developing cognitive, social and emotional skills – much like kids’ TV does. In addition, the videos will promote subjects like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) along with these softer skills.

Nickelodeon doesn’t see the launch of the videos as a one-off upgrade to Noggin. Instead, the company has invested in its own video authoring tool which the company says will kick off the launch of a new production model that will be used across Nick’s platforms going forward.

“We have taken existing show assets for these properties and added interactivity, and we’ve created brand-new animation for the extended interactive moments,” explains Matthew Evans, EVP, Digital and New Business, Nickelodeon Group.

“We have transformed our production capabilities through our proprietary authoring tool which enables the simultaneous creation of interactive digital content alongside the production of linear TV content. Our new authoring tool supports real-time scene editing and a live preview that allows the teams to layer in interactive elements, to create brand-new play-along moments within any episode,” he says.

The tool also speeds up the time it takes to make these interactive episodes, which before took 6 to 9 months per episode. Now, Nickelodeon has produced 46 (30 long form, 16 short form) in a year’s time.

That means Nickelodeon will be able to create both the linear version of the video at the same time as they’re building the interactive one. The play along video player has also been designed to integrate into Nick’s existing applications, like Noggin, instead of requiring a separate app download.

Nickelodeon’s owner, Viacom, hasn’t played well with streaming services over the years. The company previously downplayed the cord cutting trend in general, today keeps its new shows off streaming services, and generally fails to get deals done with streaming services. PlayStation Vue lost Viacom channels as a result, and Hulu couldn’t come to terms with Viacom in advance of launching its live TV offering, for example.

With Noggin, Viacom has its own streaming service of sorts, however. Though mostly a collection of back catalog content from the Noggin TV network (which later rebranded to Nick Jr.), the $5.99 per month subscription offering has plenty for kids to watch. In addition to the new play-along shows, there are hundreds of episodes from “Blue’s Clues,” “The Backyardigans,” “Yo Gabba Gabba,” “Teletubbies,” and more.

Surprisingly, Noggin may not be the only streaming service that adopts the interactive video format. Netflix is rumored to be working on a “choose your own adventure” format for adult programming, that lets viewers control key plot decisions.

Noggin’s new play along videos will first hit iOS devices, starting June 1st, before rolling out to other platforms. (It appears the U.S. App Store already has them.)

--Ends--

Also, via Kidscreen:

Nickelodeon adds play-along features to Noggin app

Nick's EVP of digital, Matthew Evans, gives Kidscreen the scoop on the net's new proprietary digital tool that's changing the way content is being made.

In response to the growing demand for more interactivity among this hyper-connected generation of preschoolers, Nickelodeon has added play-along features to its preschool SVOD app, Noggin, through a new proprietary video-authoring tool.

While kids will undoubtedly be enthused to tap, swipe and engage with popular Nickelodeon characters, a more seamless digital creation tool is also music to the ears of the net’s content team. The tech speeds up the process of creating interactive features, handing over the ability to make digital content to show creators, producers and animators—rather than bringing in digital developers and third-party publishers to do the work for them.

“We are introducing interactive videos, but the big thing for us is that we’re transforming the scale and how we produce them,” says Matthew Evans , EVP of digital and new business at Nickelodeon.

Launching today are 30 play-along videos based on Bubble Guppies, Team Umizoomi and Blaze and the Monster Machines. The videos let kids interact with show characters, answer questions and solve different problems on-screen. There will also be short-form interactive content that stars such characters as Nick Jr.’s Moose and Zee.

“We know that kids expect interactivity on their devices,” says Evans. “So we asked ourselves how can we transform and how we make content to deliver interactive episodes alongside the way that we produce linear ones. If Blaze and AJ [from Blaze and the Monster Machines] need to go through a bunch of mud bubbles, now the child can pop the bubbles and help them overcome that obstacle.”

The new tool works with real-time scene editing and a live preview, so the creative teams can easily layer on the interactive elements where it makes the most sense. The tech will also allow show creators to release play-along and linear versions of an episode at the same time.

The play-along videos are currently available on Noggin‘s iOS version (an ad-free service with a US$5.99 monthly subscription), but Evans says they will be heading to Android soon, and then to the Nick Jr. app. “We believe this capability will give us the opportunity to create interactive stories for kids across our demo and ultimately up into the older range as well,” he says.

The idea of interactive content isn’t entirely new to Nickelodeon. The kidsnet pioneered call-and-response linear preschool programming with Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, wherein characters ask viewers a question and leave some time for them to shout our their answers. The net does have a suite of kids gaming apps like the SpongeBob Moves In and SpongeBob Doodle Jump, but Noggin is the first to incorporate both linear TV and embedded interactive play.

“With our new suite of technology, we are able to create 46 play-along videos in one year. This isn’t just a launch, this is the beginning of a steady pipeline that’s going to grow over time,” says Evans. “Just as important, we wanted to make it easy for kids to access these play-along videos, so we’re launching them in our existing apps like Noggin, so they don’t need to go and download a separate one.”

The play-along videos are about bringing the curriculum moments from the linear TV shows to life. Evans says Nick has seen a great educational benefit when kids are actively engaged in problem-solving activities. Its research shows that when kids are actively participating in the content, rather than passively consuming it, they are more likely to remember and retain it in the future.

“For play-along, we are continuing production on properties that we have, we are starting production on a couple of additional shows, and we are beginning to look at the creation of a series of play-along videos that are brand-new IP as well,” says Evans. “We’re going to be really adding to the line-up of properties as well as making the videos available on more platforms and in more apps.”

Noggin is currently one of the top-10 grossing kids apps on the US App Store and the number-one grossing app for music/video in the family category on Google Play. There are 25 Nickelodeon shows available on the app, with more on the way that will feature play-along interactive elements.

The push for more digital offerings is in line with Nickelodeon’s recent technological advancements, including the launch of a new R&D Entertainment Lab last month. The lab is focusing on identifying and experimenting with new technology, including real-time rendering, virtual cinema and virtual reality, along with augmented and mixed reality and artificial intelligence.

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