Al Kahn Talks Toon Goggles & Future of Kids’ Content
Al Kahn, the newly appointed chairman of Toon Goggles, speaks with TV Kids about the company and how he plans to redefine the standard content viewing model.
As the founder of 4Kids Entertainment and the licensing mastermind behind bringing the Japanese phenomenon Pokémon to the U.S., Al Kahn has had a front-row seat to the latest developments in the children’s entertainment business. Kahn, who throughout his career has generated more than $15 billion in gross product sales, now brings his proven expertise to the on-demand children’s video arena.
Kahn tells TV Kids that he saw “a huge seismic shift” coming with regards to how kids were consuming programming, one that put VOD in a prime position. “Kids born today have no fear of technology,” he says. “With the prices of tablets coming down, a lot ***Image***of kids now have them. When you start to analyze the viewership for VOD [platforms] and the kinds of numbers they’re getting, you go, ‘Oh my goodness!’”
One of the challenges with VOD, according to Kahn, is generating awareness among kids and parents that a service is there to watch. This is why, he says, having top-flight programming is more important than ever. “When cable was starting out, a lot of the networks didn’t become really successful until they had a tent-pole show. With Toon Goggles, the idea is to give viewers tent-pole shows that initially are only available on this particular platform.”
Kahn adds that by making Toon Goggles available without a subscription, as it’s an advertiser-supported service, “there’s no problem with entry. Kids don’t have to go to their parents and ask for a credit card” in order to enjoy the entertainment offerings. Further bolstering the platform’s exposure, Toon Goggles has done deals with a number of hardware manufacturers to have the app preinstalled on a range of TV sets, tablets and devices.
“We’re not competing with broadcasters,” says Kahn. “In the best of all worlds, we’re working together. I’d love to work with broadcasters. We can do certain things on the VOD block that they can’t do on the network, and vice versa, so we should be working together.”
He says that Toon Goggles and broadcasters can work side by side on integrated viewing experiences for children. The platform not only offers on-demand viewing opportunities, there are also a range of games, interactive audiobooks, camera filter applications (à la Snapchat) and more available. Augmented reality is also in the plans.
“We are creating different experiences for the different types of distribution [platforms],” Kahn says. “The show that’s on VOD might be somewhat different from what will be on broadcast. The idea is that kids can get different experiences depending on where they go. With that, there’s no reason why we can’t start licensing. Licensing is critical to the success of all of this. That’s how you derive tremendous amounts of revenue and tremendous amounts of opportunity relative to cost of production and acquisition. Doing these things isn’t cheap! Even localizing is relatively expensive.”
Indeed, given Kahn’s background, licensing is top of mind as he looks toward the future of his work with Toon Goggles. “The properties that we’re putting on Toon Goggles will be things that we have all the licensing rights to as well, whether it be toy rights or video-game rights,” he says. “Then we can create more experiences for kids. We’re not only going to give them the show; we want to give them ways that they can get involved with the concepts off the screen as well.”
Kahn is both enthused and optimistic about the future of Toon Goggles and of the children’s content business at large. “Kids know what’s good,” he says. “As a group, kids are really smart. So if we give them really smart programming, give them smart experiences and make sure they know where to find these, I think we have just as good of a chance at success as anybody. All of this is really exciting.”