Too darn hot… it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 24th June 2016

I’ve come to the end of my visit to the Licensing Expo and should be landing back at Gatwick by the time you read this (although it sounds like I may be paddling home rather than driving, unless the internet is exaggerating again). The final day of the show was noticeably quieter in the aisles, but overall the event has felt busier than in previous years, especially around the entrances to some of the larger stands, which have resembled a tube station at rush hour on occasions. There’s a strand of thought that suggests the big players dominate the show, but in fairness I’ve had meetings with licensing companies of every shape and size this week, and some of the most interesting properties and developments were not always found on the mega-booths. It’s undoubtedly a challenge to compete with the big budgets and massive resources of some of the licensing giants, but big bucks don’t necessarily guarantee that success will follow and there is plenty of creativity and innovation to be found outside of the big studios.

I’ve come across a lot of new kids shows which will be making their debut on Netflix, which is certainly becoming a significant funder of programming. If, like me, you have been wondering how viewing figures compare with alternative broadcast platforms, our July issue – which will be hitting desks early next week – includes an interesting article from Generation Media’s Martin Doyle tackling this very subject. Well worth a read I promise.

Another area which has cropped up frequently in conversation this week is movies: it was almost a rarity to talk to a licensor which doesn’t have a film in development, and some of the plans for a series of films in quick succession are nothing if not ambitious. I just hope that committing to annual movie releases doesn’t result in quality being compromised or consumer / retail fatigue setting in. From a toy perspective, one wonders whether the law of diminishing returns might apply on occasion, as parents may decide their children already have enough toys from the last movie.

Love Vegas or loathe it, the Licensing Expo is here to stay – I am led to believe that one of the driving factors behind next year’s change of date is the opportunity to establish the show in a fixed time slot for the long-term, something which has apparently been tricky given other events which take place here in June. It does mean we’ll miss the amusing sight of the Electric Daisy crowd milling around, but hopefully it won’t be quite as ridiculously hot in May (we’ve apparently had record temperatures this week, causing wildfires to break out perilously close to the city).

Judging by a number of comments about my aversion to the word ‘phygital’ in one of this week’s earlier Blogs (which are all still online, if you’re one of our regular Friday readers and missed them), I may have struck a minor blow for the forces of sensible vocabulary. If even a handful of people think twice before saying it out loud in future, my work here will be done.

I’m still pondering whether my next target should be people clapping themselves in presentations (they will probably claim they’re applauding the audience, but I’m not convinced).

Finally, away from Vegas, the big news of the week – and yet another Toy World exclusive – is the closure of The Toy Store’s Oxford Street store this Sunday. You can read the full story here. I understand there will be more news on the Toy Store’s future plans for the UK market over the coming days, but for now the main thing to note is that this is by no means the end of The Toy Store’s presence in the UK – I’m told it is exiting Oxford Street, not the UK toy market. We’ll bring you more news as soon as we can.