EXCLUSIVE: Children’s app maker Toca Boca will translate those digital experiences into “TV You Can Touch,” interactive video offerings created by a just-launched New York production unit headed by Sesame Workshop veteran J Milligan.
Toca Boca CEO Bjorn Jeffery said the new unit will focus on creating video for a new kind of audience, children who expect video screens to be touch-sensitive and interactive rather than the passive experiences of traditional television. The first interactive videos are expected later this year.
The company has created 27 apps that have been downloaded 85 million times, in 215 countries, Jeffery said. Now it wants to translate those app experiences into a video experience that still retains significant interactivity for young audiences.
“We’re looking at the way kids are using technology now, the way it’s being done, video for a tablet or a mobile device,” Jeffery said. “What’s available in the market is retrofitted. It started as a linear show.”
Without that linear production legacy and business, Jeffery said, Toca Boca and Milligan will have freedom to create new kinds of video experiences built for the touch-sensitive screens of smartphones and tablets.
“We can design things from a new perspective,” Jeffery said. “We can start from scratch.”
Milligan called the approach ‘forward-thinking. It’s how kids will be interacting with video for the future.”
Jeffery quoted statistics suggesting that while overall time spent viewing content on screens of all kinds (TV, computer, tablet, smartphone) dropped between 2011 and 2013, viewing on tablets tripled. Those kinds of personal, mobile viewing devices will only continue to grow in use for children, he said.
Milligan said his first task is putting together the production team he wants for the new unit’s New York-based operation.
‘They’re going to come from both linear and interactive (production backgrounds),” Milligan said. “It will be a hybrid. We’re calling it ‘TV You Can Touch.’ That will be the starting point.”
During Milligan’s time at Sesame Workshop, the team’s shows won four Emmys, a Peabody, a BAFTA and other awards.