Ken Lorber: “Animation is far more complex and sophisticated"

The President & CEO at The Kitchen Worldwide reflects on today's kids TV market and the many positive changes this industry experienced over the past two decades.

29 JUL 2022

Ken Lorber, President/CEO of The Kitchen

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With today’s strong focus on children’s programming, The Kitchen, the industry’s only Emmy Award Winning language services studio, reflects on the many positive changes in the children’s genre over the past two decades. “Twenty years ago, there was little variation in content. Formats were long and the topics discussed were rudimentary. Today, we’re seeing a lot more short-form programming for children, often between 3-11 minutes per episode, that truly gets the message across. Today, the topics discussed reflect a changing world. While we do see material for pre-schoolers a lot, the most asked-for localization content is for 6–12-year-olds. They are smarter today. They are more worldly today. They are asking for answers, not just a fairy tale,” Ken Lorber, President/CEO of The Kitchen Worldwide, stated.

The Kitchen has its US headquarters in Miami, Florida, with additional studios in: Mexico; Argentina; Brazil; France; Italy; Germany; Spain; Hungary; Turkey; MENA; Russia and Israel. All The Kitchen global studios will be represented at MIPCOM, in October. “The animation itself is far more complex and sophisticated. There are more songs and music requiring true musical talent, musical scoring, and musical direction. There is more anime for teens and 20-somethings, again much more sophisticated in animation quality and content,” Lorber said. All in all, The Kitchen’s 14 global dubbing studios are very excited about what the future holds in developing new children’s formats, programming, and genres. “We’re excited to be playing a part of the new global launches, for streaming and broadcast. We’re excited about new language opportunities that are constantly coming our way, looking for our assistance, guidance, and knowhow,” he added.

All The Kitchen’s 14 global dubbing studios are seeing a vast increase in children’s programming requests. Children’s programming was reported to be an $8.15 billion business as of 2018. Today, most titles are being translated and dubbed into multiple languages. Predictions by the Global Children Entertainment Centers Market forecast this segment of the industry to reach $15.37 billion by 2026. “During the pandemic, we did see a dramatic increase in requests for children’s programming, both live action, and animation. So, I’m guessing the actual forecast to be must greater than the above, since the Global Children Entertainment Center’s predictions were posted pre-pandemic,” Lorber added. 

It wasn’t that long ago that the first channel for kids was launched. It was in 1979, and the channel was Nickelodeon, one of The Kitchen’s long-time clients. And the programming was for all ages. Today, every country touts its own children’s networks. Streaming platforms, of which there are new additions almost daily, count children’s programming as a priority. US-originated children’s TV channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or Disney are now competing for global delivery of programming. Networks are wanting more content, more talent, and more dubbing capacity. “That’s music to my ears. What that means for us is that we must be ready for growth, we must consistently search for new talent, we must continue to increase our capacity,” Lorber commented.

Children’s programming today is “packaged” and broadcast through independent, customized channels globally. There are many rules that govern the content of children’s programming, as well as the use of deceptive marketing, or advertising in conjunction with this programming.“We are finding that many of our clients are working on multiple titles simultaneously specifically for this purpose. We must be part of the policing process in this arena as well. Our clients count on us to do so. There have been many shows that The Kitchen has worked on, for several years, where the young talent had to be replaced as their voices changed. That, too, is part of the challenge. Likewise, if the adult talent voicing a puppet character, for example, becomes ill, or passes away, we look for soundalikes that today’s smart, young audiences will accept,” Lorber added.