By Michael Varrati
“Our company is organically growing, but at the same time, we like to consider ourselves like a speed boat among freighters,” says Jason Berger, founder and executive producer of the content creation powerhouse Kids at Play.
The comment, offered not as a boast, but rather a fair assessment of Kids at Play’s deft ability to maneuver content across multiple platforms, is a succinct analogy for one of the digital realm’s most prolific developers.
In a landscape where most content creation studios work solely within a single platform or cater to a small list of clients, Kids at
Play has displayed a brand-defining sense of flexibility by not placing limits on their output. The company, which began creating ads and commercials in the early days of cross-digital/traditional media integration, has since developed a variety of content, including scripted and unscripted shows, cooking programs, personality-driven programming, and more.
“Our mantra is about making entertaining and engaging content, regardless of where it lives,” says Berger. “The goal has always been, from the very get-go, that we wanted our content for the web to not feel like web content. Web viewers, as you know, are very savvy. There’s a major expectation for high quality stuff. They expect the same kind of production value as what they see on TV, and that’s really what we’ve been producing since we started. That way, the content we create can not only live on the web, but beyond.”
With a driving commitment to create engaging media no matter the platform, Kids at Play has achieved their goal more than a few times over. The company is consistently developing content for some of the web’s most prominent content providers, racking up a client list that is positively staggering.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to produce for AOL, Yahoo, Machinima, Loud, Hungry, IGN, VEVO, My Damn Channel…pretty much if you name it, we’ve produced content for them,” Berger says.
With the roster of companies Kids at Play works with continually expanding, it should come as no surprise that it’s not just their efficiency and commitment to production value that keeps all the various outlets coming back for more. Perhaps unknown to many web viewers, the fact remains that Kids at Play is behind some of the biggest video properties available on the web.
However, despite working with some big name talent and traditional media stars, Berger remains humble in listing a few of the company’s voluminous credits.
“We did “Tiny Commando” with Ed Helms and Zack Levi on Yahoo, “Anthony Eats America” with Anthony Anderson on AOL, “Coogan Auto” on the Loud Channel,” Berger says casually, “We produce a bunch of stuff for VEVO. We’ve done docu-series, like “Bonnaroo Soopergroop,” as well as a very quick, fun series for Nerdist called “Reasons to Be Scared of the Future.” There’s a wide range of content that we’ve been not only able to produce, but produce complete in-house, as well as do things with other people. A lot of talent will come to us and create content. We have a great relationship with agencies, such as
Principato-Young Entertainment, with whom we did some of the shows I mentioned, like “Tiny Commando” and “Anthony Eats America.” We’re strengthened by our relationships with agencies and brands.”
“What sets Jason and the Kids at Play team apart is that they haven’t rested on their success,” says Scott Reich, VP of original programming and content at VEVO. “They are not about a template — they know how to adapt to changing trends that influence audience viewing behavior. Their ability to stretch digital dollars without sacrificing creativity instills trust and confidence that they will deliver high quality programming, no matter how challenging the project. VEVO has a few projects in the works with Kids at Play and it’s been fantastic to work with them.”
At its core, Reich’s endorsement of Kids at Play is reflected by the company’s own approach to media creation.
When I ask Berger if creating media for a variety of platforms requires a different approach for each, his answer perfectly displays the qualities that Reich praised.
“Take, for example, if we’re doing a gaming show for IGN,” Berger says, “It isn’t just about getting a bunch of comedy writers together who are good at comedy, it’s about getting guys who also love to game. You want to tap into what people are already interested in doing, and the same thing goes for producing. There is no more primetime, it’s all about my time. If you can keep that in the back of your head when you’re creating content, that it’s all about time, you’ll realize that when people go to a certain place, they’ll expect a certain kind of content.”
By following their previously stated mantra of knowing and engaging their audience, Kids at Play has laid the foundation for a company that is bound to endure for years to come in changing the face of content delivery. In talking about the organic approach of his audience, Berger could just as well be discussing the evolution of his own company, whose progression from commercial work to seizing control of an untamed digital realm is truly one of sly savvy and awareness.
Ultimately, though, Berger maintains that it’s about making a good product:
“We’re a creative, fun bunch that has a great time, but we’re extremely dedicated to the content. At the end of the day, I think that everyone here really cares about the content. It could be a cooking series, it could be comedy, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that everyone who works here wants to make that content interesting and the best it can be.”