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MIPJUNIOR & MIPCOM EDITION
Top Programmers / Long-Running Shows / Superheroes / Factual Series / Viacom’s Robert Bakish / Channel 5’s Sarah Muller
Netflix’s Andy Yeatman / Christina Miller on Cartoon Network @ 25 / Rainbow’s Iginio Straffi / Zodiak Kids’ Jean-Philippe Randisi
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22 TV KIDS
Always On Today’s children are digital natives, born into a world of tablets, smartphones, apps—a screen for any activity and any time of day.
Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Anna Carugati Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Executive Editor Joanna Padovano Tong Managing Editor Sara Alessi Associate Editor Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Simon Weaver Online Director Dana Mattison Senior Sales & Marketing Manager Nathalia Lopez Sales & Marketing Assistant Andrea Moreno Business Affairs Manager
Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Kids © 2017 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tvkids.ws
We’ve all seen little ones engrossed in a game or episode on busses, trains or airplanes, and in restaurants, waiting rooms and other public places. I’ve even seen toddlers in strollers, being pushed down the street, completely absorbed in the content on a smartphone instead of looking around. And shockingly, I’ve seen kids in parks watching instead of playing—but that’s a parenting issue, not a smartphone or technology issue. The point is that while children a generation ago had to wait for the scheduled airing of a show, or for a parent or caretaker to pop in a video cassette or DVD, or turn on the desktop computer, now content is available always and is just a click or swipe away, something even a toddler can do. This world of constant and endless choice offers numerous challenges and opportunities for the entire children’s content ecosystem. And TV Kids speaks to a broad crosssection of producers, distributors and channels. As Christina Miller, the president and general manager of Cartoon Network, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, notes, a programmer must always be providing content. “It’s not a day, date and time; it’s not a moment in time, it’s all the time,” she says. Children want their entertainment available at any moment. And while it’s true that so much of viewing is on-demand, Sarah Muller, the head of children’s at Channel 5, points out there are advantages to being a linear channel. Live presenters create relationships with young viewers, and a very direct dialogue with children who send in pictures and messages and interact with the channel. Channels and platforms are in constant need of content. Producers often have to branch out into new areas to keep up with kids and tweens’ discerning tastes. One example is Rainbow, the Italian company that broke into the international market with the long-running franchise Winx Club. Iginio Straffi talks about his company’s expansion into live action. Our feature surveys programming commissioners in major markets to learn what they are seeking. We also look at trends in animation series featuring those ever-appealing superheroes. While the appetite for animation is constant, there is also a market for kids’ factual programming— unscripted series hosted by real-life talent that entertain and educate. Series, in general, are in demand, especially when they are long-running, as we also look at what it takes to keep them fresh season after season. All these different genres contribute to the always-on and something-for-everyone nature of children’s content today. —Anna Carugati
66 IT’S SHOWTIME! 76 WE’RE BACK! 82 BE MY HERO 90 KIDS GET REAL 144 KIDS TRENDSETTERS
SPECIAL REPORT 101 BRAND LICENSING EUROPE Key trends in the L&M business, plus interviews with 41 Entertainment’s Allen Bohbot and Mia and me’s Gerhard Hahn.
64 Viacom’s Robert Bakish 5’s 100 Channel Sarah Muller
120 Netflix’s Andy Yeatman 126 Turner’s Christina Miller Ghibli’s 134 Studio Goro Miyazaki
136 Rainbow’s Iginio Straffi Kids’ 140 Zodiak Jean-Philippe Randisi
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Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS 30 TV KIDS
4K Media Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS / Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V The popular Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is still going strong, with more than 16 years of brand awareness and a loyal fan base spanning across five series. The latest Yu-Gi-Oh! installment, VRAINS, is the main focus for 4K Media at the market. The new show is set in a world of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and high-speed dueling. In addition, the company will be promoting the third and final season of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, while continuing to offer the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! library for distribution outside of Asia. Yu-Gi-Oh! also has an extensive nonlinear presence. Late last year, Konami Digital Entertainment launched the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links mobile game in Japan. The app was later released in approximately 150 countries in 11 different languages and has been downloaded more than 50 million times.
9 Story Media Group Luo Bao Bei / Angela’s Christmas / Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare Last year, 9 Story Media Group announced the launch of its international distribution operation in Dublin, “which has significantly strengthened our European presence,” says Natalie Osborne, the company’s chief strategy officer. This MIPCOM, 9 Story “will be announcing some important news about our studio operation, which will further increase our creative capabilities,” she says. Among the company’s highlights are Luo Bao Bei, a co-production from Magic Mall Entertainment, Cloth Cat Animation and 9 Story, and the animated special Angela’s Christmas, based on the story by Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt. There are also two new half-hour specials for Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare, “which show the beauty and magic of Easter and Christmas,” says Osborne.
Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare
“We have new shows in development, new series in production, new acquisitions as well as new seasons of existing shows.” —Natalie Osborne
The Mini Musketeers
Skylanders Academy / Super Monsters / The Mini Musketeers The gender-neutral animated comedy Skylanders Academy follows a group of superheroes working together to protect the universe from forces of evil. The Netflix original, which is represented by 41 Entertainment, has a second season on the streaming service. Super Monsters is an animated preschool comedy, while Shooting Star is a girl-skewing adventure show. Another highlight from the catalog is The Mini Musketeers, an animated preschool program based on the famed story penned by French writer Alexandre Dumas. “41 Entertainment is a major independent creator, producer and distributor of high-quality kids’ and family animation, providing all genres— from boys’ action to girls’ comedy and preschool formats—for all broadcasters’ needs worldwide,” says Allen Bohbot, the managing director of 41 Entertainment.
“We control all rights, including linear and nonlinear, to each of our properties.” —Allen Bohbot 238 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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Australian Children’s Television Foundation Little J & Big Cuz / Little Lunch specials / Balloon Barnyard
Little J & Big Cuz
Screening for the first time at MIPJunior will be episodes of Little J & Big Cuz, a new animated series commissioned by National Indigenous Television (NITV) in Australia. The show tells the tale of 5-year-old Little J and 9-year-old Big Cuz, two Indigenous Australian children living with their Nanna and Old Dog. “In a world that is becoming increasingly in need of positive messages about multiculturalism, diversity and acceptance of others, Little J & Big Cuz has arrived at the perfect time,” says Tim Hegarty, international sales manager at Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF). The company is also showcasing Little Lunch specials, which were first introduced at MIPTV 2017, and Balloon Barnyard, a preschool program about a pair of donkeys who will do anything to help their farmyard friends.
“With everything from comedy to drama, shortform animation to factual, ACTF has something to suit all broadcasters of children’s content.” —Tim Hegarty
Beat Bugs / The Dengineers / Ice Stars Five childlike insects go on backyard adventures in Beat Bugs, an animated Netflix show featuring covers of The Beatles songs. “This series crosses over different generations, so preschoolers to grandparents will be able to enjoy it,” says Munia Kanna-Konsek, the head of sales at Beyond Distribution. The show is currently in production on its third season. The Dengineers, meanwhile, is a CBBC hit in which an elite team makes amazing dens for children. “This visually exciting series aims to inspire, inform and educate,” says Kanna-Konsek. Then there is Ice Stars, another CBBC program, this one exploring the action-packed lives of young ice-skaters. “Our cast live and breathe ice, so nothing can get in the way of a dedicated group of young people with exceptional skating skills,” adds Kanna-Konsek.
Blue Ant International
“Music is the core element [in Beat Bugs], and each episode covers one song made famous by The Beatles.”
Teddies / ZooMoo’s Wild Friends / Creature Mania! Working with Blue Ant Media’s recently acquired global production businesses NHNZ, Northern Pictures and Beach House Pictures, Blue Ant International has added more than 200 hours of children’s programming to its catalog that will be introduced to buyers at MIPJunior. Among the highlights is Teddies, which follows four teddy bears living in the world of Teddytown. There are also ZooMoo’s Wild Friends, Creature Mania! and Most Extreme: Alien Planet Earth. “We tip our hats to our premium production partners who have created strong and compelling stories to engage children of all ages,” said Solange Attwood, the senior VP. “Blue Ant International is honored to join the kids’ community, and our team is looking forward to representing titles such as Teddies and ZooMoo’s Wild Friends to buyers across all platforms worldwide.”
“MIPJunior marks the launch of our new kids’ and family offering.”
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34 TV KIDS Pablo
CAKE Pablo / Kiddets / Angelo Rules An imaginative boy with autism is the main character in Pablo, a preschool show that CAKE is highlighting at the market. “Airing on CBeebies and RTÉjr, Pablo is truly groundbreaking,” says Ed Galton, the company’s chief commercial officer and managing director. “The first-ever children’s series to feature an autistic central character, each story reflects the real-life experiences of children with autism, and has been devised, co-written and voiced by young autistic talent.” Also on offer are Kiddets, which is a sister series to the international hit The WotWots, and a fourth season of the popular animated comedy Angelo Rules, which is co-produced by CAKE and TeamTO. “With new plot twists, on-trend technology and a host of new characters, Angelo 4 promises to keep fans on the edge of their seats,” says Galton.
“As well as CAKE’s new distribution titles launching at MIPCOM, we have a growing portfolio of series in development and production.” —Ed Galton
Calm Island Badanamu Cadets / Badanamu Animated Songs / Bada’s Learning Adventure Badanamu was originally created as a preschool brand for 1- to 5-year-olds. “It now features over 7,000 lesson plans, and combines technology, adorable characters, music, animation and traditional teaching practices to create ‘active learning experiences’ to activate a child’s brain while they play,” says David Roberts, the CEO of Calm Island. In Cannes, the company is promoting its new animated series, Badanamu Cadets, which targets young viewers between the ages of 4 and 7. “The Badanamu cadets are a team of six dynamic, creative and intrepid heroes-in-training, learning everything they need to know to protect the world of Badanamu from the forces of chaos,” says Roberts. Other highlights are Badanamu Animated Songs and Bada’s Learning Adventure, a new app that is launching this month.
“Badanamu Cadets is currently in production, with season one set for delivery in January 2018.” —David Roberts
Creative Media Partners
Sindbad & the 7 Galaxies
Sindbad & the 7 Galaxies / The Beach Crew / My Grand’pire A reimagining of the classic Arabian Nights character, Sindbad & the 7 Galaxies looks on as a 12-year-old boy and his friends have heroic after-school adventures in outer space. Creative Media Partners is offering the title in Cannes alongside The Beach Crew, a 2D series targeting 4to 8-year-old viewers, and My Grand’pire, an animated comedy about a grandfather vampire living in New York City. “Each show is designed to engage with its target kid audience while always being family-friendly and [having] global appeal,” says Raja Masilamani, the company’s creative director. “Our stories connect with kids wherever they are in the world. We have dark moments and jeopardy, but never any gratuitous violence or malevolent behavior. All the shows are totally original and produced in very high quality.”
“All our titles focus on strong, well-defined characters and great writing and storytelling.” —Raja Masilamani 242 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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36 TV KIDS
Cyber Group Studios The Pirates Next Door / Zou / Zak Jinks Based on Jonny Duddle’s best-selling book, The Pirates Next Door is a new animated show on offer from Cyber Group Studios. “The Pirates Next Door is a great comedy adventure series talking about diversity in a very funny environment mixing the world of pirates and the life of a small dull city, with two great characters in Jim and Matilda,” says Pierre Sissmann, the company’s president and CEO. Among Cyber Group’s other highlights is the third season of Zou, a preschool program that has been sold into 150-plus territories around the globe and translated into 34 languages. There is also Zak Jinks, an animated sitcom following the daily antics of a mischievous yet lovable 8-year-old boy. The show, which was inspired by a comic strip, is produced for France Télévisions.
The Pirates Next Door
“We are very proud to bring these three new productions to the market, and we hope that they will find their path to success.” —Pierre Sissmann
Dutch Features Global Entertainment Freek’n Wild / Spooky / Penguins and Pastry Doctor Freek Vonk is a passionate biologist who travels the globe in search of exotic wildlife and adventures in Freek’n Wild, a factual series for families. “We would like to establish the brand of Freek’n Wild—the number one factual-adventure series in the Netherlands—and bring it to a much bigger international audience,” says Françoise Nieto-Fong, Dutch Features Global Entertainment’s sales executive. The series answers all kinds of animal-related questions such as where sloths live. Spooky features nine stand-alone episodes that tell creepy stories involving brave kids and the fears they must overcome. The company’s slate also includes Penguins and Pastry, about an 8-year-old who wants to be a polar explorer, and his father, the world’s best pastry chef. Nieto-Fong calls the shows “perfect for international buyers and audiences.”
“These shows are all packed with imagination and fun; they’re highly original and very entertaining for families everywhere.” —Françoise Nieto-Fong
Entertainment One Family Cupcake & Dinosaur / PJ Masks / Peppa Pig Geared toward 7- to 12-year-old viewers, Cupcake & Dinosaur is a new animated comedy series about an unlikely duo doing small odd jobs in the competitive business of general services. “Comedy is central to Cupcake & Dinosaur, which we’re hoping to sell to international markets,” says Monica Candiani, Entertainment One (eOne) Family’s head of international sales. Also on offer is the preschool show PJ Masks, about a trio of superheroes, and the global animated hit Peppa Pig, which is slated to premiere its new season in spring 2019 to coincide with the brand’s 15th-anniversary celebrations. “Peppa Pig airs in over 180 countries around the world and benefits from successful merchandise programs and live events, which encourage viewers to circle back to the TV show,” adds Candiani.
“One thing that exports really well is comedy and that’s something you will find in many of eOne Family’s shows.” PJ Masks
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38 TV KIDS
ETS Studios Glammys School of Fashion The animated comedy Glammys School of Fashion was created by ETS Studios, an independent Italian production and distribution company. The show deals with such topics as friendship, teamwork, dreams and challenges. “After the success of the short-form Glammys Vlog, which we sold to Turner and De Agostini, we now launch the longer format of 52x11-minute episodes,” says Piero Piacentini, the general manager of ETS Studios. “The humorous stories feature a group of kids using their passion for fashion to express their unique personality while creating their own authentic, original style. Our unconventional approach to fashion aims to inspire all kids to look for their unique self and show it, avoiding stereotypes and freeing their imaginations.”
Glammys School of Fashion
“We manage properties from their early stage to their exploitation, through production, postproduction services, distribution and L&M.” —Piero Piacentini
FremantleMedia Kids & Family Bitz & Bob / Danger Mouse / Tasty Tales of the Food Truckers The STEM-based animated comedy Bitz & Bob and its liveaction companion series, Bitz & Bob You Can Do It Too, are part of FremantleMedia Kids & Family’s longstanding copro pact with BBC Children’s. “Girls need strong TV characters they can identify with, and Bitz & Bob not only fills that remit but also addresses the global shortage of female engineers—the first to do so in a preschool show,” says Rick Glankler, the president and general manager of FremantleMedia Kids & Family. “Bitz & Bob is designed to encourage a new generation of engineers.” The company is also presenting the second season of the Danger Mouse reboot, as well as Tasty Tales of the Food Truckers, an animated slapstick comedy series that is being co-produced with Shellhut Entertainment in Thailand.
Bitz & Bob
“FremantleMedia Kids & Family produces and develops standout shows across all genres and age groups.” —Rick Glankler
BabyRiki Patrimonio mundial - Herencia de la humanidad
BabyRiki / PinCode / Krash and Hehe The edutainment show BabyRiki offers musical stories to teach cognitive and soft skills. “BabyRiki was developed alongside child psychologists and early development specialists,” says Christine Brendle, the CEO of FUN Union. “Each episode has age-appropriate stories in familiar surroundings to develop both social-emotional skills (such as communication, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking) as well as cognitive skills (such as early literacy and math), which are reinforced through a song.” PinCode teaches valuable science lessons. FUN Union is also offering Krash and Hehe, a co-pro with CCTV Animation and Riki Group that is in production. Brendle notes that FUN Union is “looking to expand into additional European markets such as the French, German and other northern European markets, while also looking at Asia.”
“Our programs are all non-violent and very visually appealing, with educational values. They are also entertaining.” —Christine Brendle 246 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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40 TV KIDS
Gaumont Hetty Feather / Furiki Wheels / Trulli Tales
“We have a slate of approximately 20 new children’s series in various stages of development that cater to different age demographics in wide-ranging genres.”
A drama series for kids and families, Hetty Feather is based on the best-selling book by Jacqueline Wilson. The show follows the daily battles of a young girl who has lived with kindhearted foster parents until the age of 5 and is then returned to the London children’s home where she was abandoned as a baby. She faces challenges, makes friends and discovers untold truths as she continues to search for her mother. “It is truly a unique program that could be described as a Downton Abbey for children,” says Vanessa Shapiro, the president of worldwide TV distribution and co-production at Gaumont. Furiki Wheels, about a hyperactive sloth, is a slapstick comedy. Shapiro describes Trulli Tales as “part storybook magic with a little MasterChef Junior and a dash of wizardry.”
Genius Brands International Rainbow Rangers / Llama Llama / SpacePOP
A pair of animated preschool series leads the slate that Genius Brands International brings to the market. One is Rainbow Rangers, a girl-skewing adventure that is currently in production for a premiere on Nick Jr. in the U.S. next year, and the other is Llama Llama, which is due to debut as a Netflix original in early 2018. Rainbow Rangers “is truly empowering and each storyline is designed to show young viewers the importance of working together,” says Deb Pierson, the senior VP of global content distribution and marketing, and president of Kid Genius Cartoon Channel, at Genius Brands International. “Llama Llama is a gender-neutral series [about] the trials and tribulations of every child’s first experiences.” The company will also be showcasing SpacePOP, a musical animated series for tweens.
“In addition to our children’s content, we are continuing to expand the reach of our digital Kid Genius Cartoon Channel.” —Deb Pierson
Gloob Time to Rock / Valentins / Brainiacs The first Brazilian channel for children, Globosat’s Gloob, is aimed at young viewers between the ages of 4 and 11 and is celebrating its fifth birthday this year. Among the network’s highlights are the new animated show Time to Rock and the live-action series Valentins and Brainiacs. “Time to Rock presents a unique rock band composed of four unpopular friends that travel through time and relive great moments of world history every time they play,” says Paula Taborda dos Guaranys, the head of content and programming at Gloob. “Valentins reinforces family values as four siblings unite to find their own courage and protect their parents from an ambitious villain. Brainiacs refers to a special school for gifted children where they discuss technology consciousness, social transformation and the role of innovative education.”
“Gloob’s success derives from its commitment to producing original content that can entertain, engage and inspire kids.” Time to Rock
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—Paula Taborda dos Guaranys
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42 TV KIDS
GO-N International Tib & Tumtum / Simon / ZipZip The friendship between a boy and a dinosaur takes center stage in Tib & Tumtum, a new comedy from the GO-N International catalog. “The show portrays mind-blowing adventure from a child’s perspective and provides kids with a visually exciting breath of fresh air,” says Marie Congé, the company’s head of sales and business development. Simon is a new preschool program based on the publishing success by Stephanie Blake about an adorable young rabbit, while ZipZip is a high-octane comedy that airs in more than 100 territories around the globe. “GO-N’s expansion continues with the launch of our digital department to accelerate the creation of content for both broadcasters and new platforms, as well as with GO-N International distributing animation from other producers in addition to GO-N’s existing portfolio,” says Congé.
“GO-N is committed more than ever to developing high-quality entertainment for kids worldwide.” —Marie Congé
Green Gold Animation
Kalari Kids / Jungle Trouble / Duchess In the comedic adventure series Kalari Kids, on offer from Green Gold Animation at MIPCOM, Beenu and Raaka’s teams face new challenges every day in a mystical jungle. Slapstick comedy is featured in Jungle Trouble, in which four carefree and primitive beasts face off against a greedy, high-tech penguin and his thuggish rhino sidekick. And in Duchess, high fashion meets psychedelic, fast-paced spy adventures. “Kalari Kids has its own distinct script style, and the production has a touch of Indian soulfulness with a global appeal,” says Rajiv Chilaka, the founder and CEO of Green Gold Animation. “Jungle Trouble is a typical slapstick comedy for the global market, putting the modern world in contrast with nature. Duchess is thriving on the excitement of the jet-set life, combined with fashion and adventure.”
“Cartoons from India are reminiscent of the beauty, sophistication and stylization of the [country’s] traditional art and paintings.” —Rajiv Chilaka
Patrimonio mundial Herencia de la humanidad Big -Blue
True and the Rainbow Kingdom / Big Blue An 8-year-old female and her feline companion help the whimsical citizens of their community in True and the Rainbow Kingdom, an animated preschool series. “True and the Rainbow Kingdom has already garnered critical acclaim for its strong girl lead and messages of mindfulness and critical thinking,” says Rachel Marcus, who serves as a development executive at Guru Studio. Big Blue, meanwhile, is a creator-driven adventure comedy that is currently in development with the CBC and is geared toward young viewers between the ages of 4 and 8. “The series follows siblings Lettie and Lemo as they lead their quirky submarine crew to solve the ocean’s mysteries and find the origins of a new magical recruit named Bacon Berry,” says Marcus.
“We’re excited to be launching these two new original shows at MIPCOM this year.” —Rachel Marcus
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44 TV KIDS
HARI International Grizzy & the Lemmings / Pipas and Douglas / Mystery Lane The animated series Grizzy & the Lemmings is a priority for HARI International at MIPCOM. “In less than a year, we have launched season one on pay TV worldwide and on free TV in key territories, greenlit season two production, secured L&M agents almost worldwide, and last, but not least, we are developing a third season and a feature film,” says Adeline Tormo, the company’s head of sales. “We think that Grizzy & the Lemmings would [also] find an audience on nonlinear platforms.” Another highlight is Pipas and Douglas, a nonverbal comedy about a pair of atypical performing artists. Then there is Mystery Lane, a new project featuring “a mix of enigmas and fun in a so-very-British mystery backdrop adapted and modernized for young audiences,” says Tormo.
Pipas and Douglas
“HARI has earned a reputation for developing original, character-driven creations with a distinct comedy trademark for family audiences.” —Adeline Tormo
Hasbro Studios My Little Pony Friendship is Magic / Littlest Pet Shop A World of Our Own / Hanazuki Full of Treasures The eighth season of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic is slated for delivery next year. “The My Little Pony franchise remains a cherished brand worldwide by fans of all ages,” says Finn Arnesen, the senior VP of international distribution and development at Hasbro Studios. “Its popularity is boosted by the successful animated series My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, which airs in more than 193 territories around the globe.” Littlest Pet Shop has been reimagined with a new brand positioning focused on a pet-centric world. “This new story will launch as an exciting series of animated digital shorts premiering in fall 2017 on YouTube, with the broadcast rolling out in 2018,” says Arnesen. Hanazuki Full of Treasures is Hasbro’s first-ever animated digital show, which debuted earlier this year on YouTube.
“Our mission is to use immersive, cross-platform storytelling to bring Hasbro’s most iconic brands to kids and families.” Hanazuki Full of Treasures
Imira Entertainment ZellyGo / BabyRiki / PinCode Non-dialogue comedy is featured in ZellyGo, which comprises 104 CGI animated shorts that are each a minute-anda-half long. “ZellyGo is a fantastic and original series for the whole family, and we are sure it will generate big sales in the market soon,” says Sergi Reitg, the CEO of Imira Entertainment. The company is showcasing ZellyGo at the market in Cannes alongside BabyRiki, an edutainment program geared toward preschoolers, and PinCode, a science-themed CGI animated comedy. “BabyRiki is an innovative and attractive approach to preparing the little ones at home for the world they are to grow up in,” says Reitg. “PinCode is an edutainment science series with huge doses of comedy and ingenuity, helping 6- to 10-year-olds learn about the world we share.”
“Imira is continually on the lookout for dynamic and new content that will appeal to broadcasters, SVOD and digital platforms around the globe.” —Sergi Reitg 252 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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46 TV KIDS
INK Group Masha and the Bear / The Mojicons / Anansi A third installment of Masha and the Bear is on offer from INK Group and has already piqued the interest of such broadcasters as France Télévisions and KiKA. Other highlights from the company are The Mojicons, an animated comedy about the secret life of emojis, and Anansi, a new adventure show that is set for delivery in 2019. “INK productions are not just better storytelling and visual quality— they are truly one-of-a-kind,” says Claus Tømming, managing partner at INK Group. “There are no other characters like Masha and the Bear. The single (and first-to-market) emoji-based TV property in the world is The Mojicons. And nobody except Anansi will put you in the shoes of an African teen to pioneer a take on the boisterous folklore of the Mother Continent.”
“INK has made it a point to only supply content that, on top of being high quality, is also not a lookalike of something else.” —Claus Tømming
Jetpack Distribution Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! / Kitty is Not a Cat / Justin Time Go! Starring the beloved character from the long-running comic The Beano, Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! is a new animated series that follows the adventures of Dennis and his pals. “It has the elements kids love—fun, humor, excitement and friendship—with a truly filmic look using directional lighting and real-world cameras and lenses,” says Dominic Gardiner, the CEO of Jetpack Distribution. Kitty is Not a Cat centers on a young girl who is adopted by a household of felines. “It’s what so many kids would dream of,” says Gardiner. “It also highlights the sweet relationships between children and animals in a fun and novel way. Its quirkiness has a universal appeal.” The company is additionally promoting Justin Time Go!, the third installment of the animated series that airs around the globe.
Kitty is Not a Cat
“We have a burgeoning library of fantastic, character-driven shows featuring the timeless themes of fun, friendship, adventure and comedy.” —Dominic Gardiner
Spell Keepers Patrimonio mundial - Herencia de la humanidad
Spell Keepers / The Greenhouse / Bed & Biscuit Produced for Nickelodeon Israel, Spell Keepers is a fantasy drama led by two female heroines who protect humankind from supernatural threats. “Spell Keepers is primarily for kids and teens, but if broadcasters are looking for shows that encourage co-viewership, we’ve found that this one is captivating the whole family because it has the high drama, romance and humor of an adult series,” says Nicola Andrews, the senior sales and commercial director for kids at Keshet International. In The Greenhouse, a brother and sister enroll at an elite boarding school for gifted teens after their mother dies in a space-shuttle launch. “The storylines in The Greenhouse truly have international appeal for youth audiences,” says Andrews. Bed & Biscuit, meanwhile, takes place in a family-run dog kennel.
“While the big players are reducing their investment in kids’ programming, we see this as the perfect time to take advantage of the changing environment.”
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48 TV KIDS Kiva Can Do!
Lacey Entertainment Kiva Can Do! / Celebrina in Birthday Wishland / Dinosaur King A little girl with a lively imagination explores nearly anything and everything in the animated series Kiva Can Do! Brian Lacey, the president of Lacey Entertainment, says the show “is a very delightful young children’s series featuring wonderful storytelling that reflects the imaginative play patterns of kids worldwide. Kiva Can Do! represents a welcomed departure from traditional girls’ programming in that Kiva is a spirited young girl empowered by her big imagination.” Celebrina in Birthday Wishland is another animated series that “plays to something every child can relate to: the joy of birthdays and achieving your dreams,” while introducing life lessons. According to Lacey, Dinosaur King is a “contemporary classic, a fantasy adventure series that underscores the universal and timeless appeal of dinosaurs.”
“The heartfelt stories of Kiva Can Do! deliver a contemporary viewpoint about family, friendships and adventure.” —Brian Lacey
The LEGO Group LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu / LEGO Friends / LEGO City It’s up to Kai, Jay, Cole, Zane, Lloyd and Nya to save the world in LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu. In LEGO Friends, meanwhile, Olivia, Andrea, Emma, Mia and Stephanie have adventures in Heartlake City. The LEGO Group is also showcasing LEGO City, consisting of 35 short stories about catching escaped crooks in car chases, putting out fires and rescuing shipwrecked mini-figures from sharks. “All of our programs bring LEGO worlds and characters to life through humor and by creating emotional connections with our audiences via compelling and relatable stories that emphasize LEGO brand values,” says Jay Shah, the director of content distribution at The LEGO Group. “Our content provides a high-quality, engaging and entertaining experience that kids, adults and families can all enjoy.” LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu
“Our goals for MIPCOM are to connect with existing partners and explore new content partnerships with those that share our brand values and vision.” —Jay Shah Dream Street
Dream Street MarVista Entertainment is presenting Dream Street at the market. “We are debuting 65 10-minute episodes of the innovative animated preschool series Dream Street, created by Nigel Stone of Platinum Films, that has been reimagined for a new generation of children,” says Fernando Szew, MarVista’s CEO. The series incorporates core learning principles, including play, friendship, problem-solving and social awareness. “The narrated storytelling, the pace and the brightly colored world of Dream Street, along with cutting-edge animation, are designed to appeal to a new generation of young children. The restyled Dream Street features innovative animation for a preschool series as it is shot on 35mm film using motioncontrolled cameras, remote-control and animatronic techniques in a cutting-edge process called roto-morphing.”
“We want to make a splash at MIPJunior with Dream Street and introduce this groundbreaking series to as many media partners as possible.” —Fernando Szew 256 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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50 TV KIDS Little Furry
Mediatoon Distribution Little Furry / MaXi / Minimighty Kids Part-time conjoined twins Mara and Xilo have adventures in MaXi, which “explores in a hilarious way themes of nature and the environment using a range of expressive characters from different walks of life,” says Jérôme Alby, Mediatoon Distribution’s managing director. “This combined with its dynamic mobile and TV format will be sure to succeed with a generation that is constantly on the move.” The main character in Little Furry finds himself in extraordinary universes where anything is possible. The show “uses visual learning to teach important values (respect, open-mindedness, creativity), using the family as a starting point and an endearing main character as the driving force,” Alby says. Minimighty Kids “shows us that while nobody is perfect, anyone can be a superhero if they learn to turn their flaws into a strength.”
“Mediatoon’s main goal is to keep bringing the market productions that kids will love and in which TV, VOD and licensing professionals from all around the world can safely invest.” —Jérôme Alby
Mercis Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small Miffy and friends return for a third season of Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small. “The new season promises more of what Miffy’s viewers have come to love about the show,” says Frank Padberg, business development manager and producer at Mercis. “It sees Miffy enjoying many seasonal adventures, such as spooky fun at Halloween, a Christmas dinner party and a holiday safari trip. Miffy’s Adventures celebrates the big and small challenges, adventures and experiences our young viewers encounter.” He adds, “Blue Zoo in London did another great job on this production and buyers will recognize its quality and values. They have proven to be very talented in translating the iconic 2D style of Dick Bruna faithfully to a colorful, peaceful and simple 3D world that is easy to understand and inviting to young children.”
Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small
“Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small’s high production value clearly stands out in the vast landscape of preschool offerings.” —Frank Padberg
Mondo TV Group
Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa
YooHoo & Friends / Robot Trains / Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa Based on the plush toy line from Aurora World, YooHoo & Friends follows five pals as they help endangered animals. The series encourages youngsters to develop respect for the environment. Five train friends have exciting adventures in the CGI series Robot Trains. Mondo TV Group’s lineup also features its first live-action series, Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa, about a country girl who moves to the big city. A 60episode second season, titled Heidi Bienvenida al Show, is also in the works. “Each highlight is distinct from the other in its production style, target age group and format,” says Micheline Azoury, the head of acquisitions and TV sales at Mondo TV. “Hence, they serve and cover all kids from 2 to 16. They are high-quality series, with an international flavor and comedy.”
“We are looking to expand our collaborations with new projects in preproduction or development that would be interesting and unique enough for us to adopt and co-produce.” —Micheline Azoury 258 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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NPO Sales Just Kids / Fighting Against the Wind / Free as a Bird Each episode of the series Just Kids is about a child whose rights are being threatened, and NPO Sales is presenting eight brand-new episodes. In the short documentary Fighting Against the Wind, viewers are introduced to 12year-old Amber, who doesn’t have hair. “She will never know the sensation of the wind blowing through her hair… but Amber is positive about her situation,” says Margaret Stanneveld, the company’s sales manager. “Every documentary is a unique story about people and their lives,” Stanneveld notes. “These stories encourage us to reconsider our perspective, to see things from a different point of view or to start a debate and talk about what we think and how we feel.” The company’s slate also includes the animated film Free as a Bird, about a 10-year-old living in a war zone.
Free as a Bird
“Free as a Bird is telling a story that affects a lot of children worldwide.” —Margaret Stanneveld
One Animation Oddbods / Insectibles / Rob the Robot The sketch-based TV and mobile series Oddbods follows the adventures of seven characters who laugh their way through life. “Following strong demand, a second long-form season has been commissioned and is already presold across LatAm and Asia, with a set of longer-form, seasonal specials hot on its heels,” says Sashim Parmanand, the CEO of One Animation. In the adventure comedy series Insectibles, Zak and Grandpa are shrunken down to the size of bugs and must beat their enemies to return to normal. Insectibles “has seen incredible success with co-production partners KiKA and Discovery Kids and broadcast partners, including Canal+, Sony and SVT,” she notes. Another highlight is Rob the Robot. “Our discoveryfilled preschool show features the exciting adventures of Rob, the galaxy’s most curious and adventurous robot.”
“Our shows have always been about immersive and compelling storytelling brought to life with the very latest animation techniques.” —Sashim Parmanand
Patrimonio mundial - Herencia de la humanidad
Bubu and the Little Owls / Addison / Cyberchase Bubu and her family take on a new adventure and discover answers to their questions through inventions, songs and games in each episode of Bubu and the Little Owls, which is “a stunningly adorable new preschool property and series commissioned by Disney Junior Latin America,” according to Jonathan Abraham, the director of international sales and acquisitions at Portfolio Entertainment. “The property is already a huge merchandising hit in Brazil, and the series is poised to be an international sensation once it premieres this fall.” Addison, meanwhile, centers on a 7-year-old inventor. “It is a STEM- and mystery-focused comedy series with a set of diverse characters, and a super-smart girl leads the show,” says Abraham. There are also new episodes of the STEM-focused Cyberchase featuring a remastered HD look.
Bubu and the Little Owls
“We are looking for wide-ranging global deals for our new titles and to foster new relationships with clients from emerging markets.” —Jonathan Abraham 260 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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Rainbow 44 Cats / Regal Academy / Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends The character-driven comedy 44 Cats is a new addition to Rainbow’s lineup. “44 Cats is a great physical, characterdriven comedy with strong storylines based on very powerful musical assets,” says Cristiana Buzzelli, the company’s senior VP of licensing and acquisitions. “It is about how cats see the world and is very easy for young kids to relate to, both boys and girls. Key themes are friendship and altruism, and the stories will promote tolerance and diversity and offer important life lessons.” Another highlight is the 26-episode second season of Regal Academy, about Rose Cinderella and her schoolmates, who are all descendants of fairytale characters. Rainbow’s first live-action show, Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends, is also on deck. “We will showcase season three and two TV-movie specials,” Buzzelli says.
“Rainbow is showcasing a raft of new series that will appeal to wider audiences than ever.” 44 Cats
Saban Brands Saban’s Power Rangers / Cirque du Soleil Junior—Luna Petunia / Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty The classic property Saban’s Power Rangers will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2018. “Power Rangers is the true definition of an evergreen property, having remained part of public consciousness and pop culture for almost 25 years,” says Leila Ouledcheikh, the senior VP of distribution and consumer products for EMEA at Saban Brands. “A huge driver of its enduring success is the relatability of the rangers; they are normal teens who can transform into awesome superheroes, meaning that generations of fans have been able to see themselves in our heroes.” Another highlight is the Netflix original Cirque du Soleil Junior—Luna Petunia, which targets a preschool audience. The animated comedy Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty centers on a cat named Felicity who gains the majestic powers of a rainbow, a butterfly and a unicorn.
“Targeting the preschool audience, Cirque du Soleil Junior— Luna Petunia is inspired by the curiosity, surprise and wonder of Cirque du Soleil.”
Cirque du Soleil Junior— Luna Petunia
Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter / Operation Ouch! / Art Ninja The sixth season of Operation Ouch! is on offer from Serious Lunch. Genevieve Dexter, the company’s founder and CEO, says the series “continues to be an extremely strong brand for us.” The show was recently picked up by Germany’s ZDF, and the local format in the Netherlands has been a “runaway success.” The English version of Studio Ghibli’s Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is another highlight. “Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is the only long-form animated series to come from the renowned Studio Ghibli,” says Dexter. “We are seeking a U.S. home for Ronja and Horrible Science on TV and home video now that the Amazon original holdbacks are coming to an end. We would also love to place Operation Ouch! and Art Ninja in the U.S. as well as in more Latin American territories.”
“Operation Ouch! is so clever and funny, it is able to transcend the usual boundaries limiting the distribution of factual entertainment.” —Genevieve Dexter
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Sesame Workshop Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck / The Magical Wand Chase / Elmo’s World Elmo’s World
Cookie and Gonger hit the road to learn where food comes from and collect ingredients right from the source in Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck. Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Rosita set off in hot air balloons to help Abby retrieve her wand after it’s taken by a colorful bird played by Elizabeth Banks in The Magical Wand Chase special. Sesame Workshop is also touting an updated version of Elmo’s World. The company’s development slate includes such properties as Esme and Roy, produced with Corus Entertainment and set to debut on HBO in the U.S. in 2018. “Last year we launched Sesame Studios, an all-new YouTube channel,” says Steve Youngwood, Sesame Workshop’s COO. “We have an ensemble cast of beloved characters and produce storylines that resonate with kids and their families.”
“We have a broad development portfolio of fun, creative and meaningful programs that will resonate with today’s kids.” —Steve Youngwood
Splash Entertainment Jing-Ju Cats / Oh Yuck! / Dive Olly Dive: A Hero’s Magical Quest Blending kung fu, magic and comedic moments, the awardwinning series Jing-Ju Cats targets kids aged 6 to 12. The JingJu Cats are responsible for battling the evil Dark Lord An to restore peace. Oh Yuck! mixes comedy and science to teach kids about pimples, head lice and more. “The live-action program explores all things disgusting while getting the point across with animated vignettes that occur throughout each episode,” says Mevelyn Noriega, the president of distribution at Splash Entertainment. The animated feature film Dive Olly Dive: A Hero’s Magical Quest follows Olly and his friends as they set out to recover an ancient object that possesses mystical powers. “We continually aim to position ourselves as a specialist in the animation industry and are constantly looking for new and innovative partnerships,” Noriega adds.
“Our newest slate of properties is filled with strong and unique content that is sure to be well-received worldwide and will deliver soughtafter ratings.” Jing-Ju Cats
Studio 100 Media/m4e
Mia and me
Arthur and the Minimoys / Mia and me / The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill An ordinary boy discovers the world of the Minimoys in the CGI series Arthur and the Minimoys. The show is produced by EuropaCorp Television, Studio 100 Animation, Lagardère Group and Disney Channel Germany. “A first episode will be ready for screening at MIPJunior and at our stands at MIPCOM,” says Martin Krieger, the head of global distribution at Studio 100 Media/m4e. The third season of Mia and me “could top the visual quality of the previous two seasons, and we strive to continue this [trend] for season four and a feature film, which are in development,” says Krieger. “Mia and me has proven over the last years to be a hit international franchise.” A carefree koala is in the spotlight in the CGI series The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill, another highlight from the combined Studio 100/m4e catalog.
“We have an ambitious five-year plan with an extensive slate of new productions, a mix of classic brands and exciting new projects.” —Martin Krieger 264 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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SUNRIGHTS BEYBLADE BURST EVOLUTION / BEYBLADE BURST Following the success of the first season of BEYBLADE BURST, SUNRIGHTS is introducing BEYBLADE BURST EVOLUTION, presenting “a truly international storyline that will be fun and aspirational for the viewers,” says Natasha Gross, SUNRIGHTS’ director of TV sales, marketing and licensing. It follows Valt Aoi and his friends as they travel to Spain, where they compete in the European League and continue their quest to become the world’s top Bladers. Gross notes: “As a new generation of fans emerges, we believe this new season will have tremendous appeal and continue to expand the global reach of the franchise. It has successfully evolved into a multiplatform franchise, enabling us to deliver incredible breadth, depth and engagement with our property through linear storytelling, game-playing and consumer products.”
BEYBLADE BURST EVOLUTION
“We continue to develop and grow the BEYBLADE franchise and look to solidify exciting partnerships for the second season of the series at MIPCOM.” —Natasha Gross
Emmy & GooRoo / Helen's Little School / Puffin Rock An imaginative 5-year-old and a furry, huggable creature have adventures in a magical forest in the preschool comedy Emmy & GooRoo. The social-development series Helen’s Little School is in production for France Télévisions, Télé-Québec, TFO, Knowledge Network and Discovery Kids Latin America. Targeting the upper preschool set, it centers on Helen, who acts as a teacher to her toys. Oona and Baba live on an island off the Irish coast in the eco-focused Puffin Rock. “After a first window on Netflix, this multi-awarded series is now available for an immediate TV release, with 15 existing dubs,” says Nathalie Pinguet, Superights’ deputy managing director of international sales and acquisitions. “These high-quality programs stand out in the international marketplace because they cover all genres a buyer could look for to complete their preschool slots.”
“We are proud to offer a premium, diversified catalog covering all demographics, genres, techniques and lengths from first-class producers around the globe.”
Those Licensing People
Rollie & Friends
Boy and the Dinosaur / Boys vs Girls / Rollie & Friends An ordinary 4-year-old boy wished so hard on a shooting star that his dreams came true and he got his extraordinary friend, Dinosaur, in the preschool series Boy and the Dinosaur. Girls are from Venus, boys are from Mars and Earth is a battleground in Boys vs Girls. The series, which is presented in 3D animation, puts a new twist on the age-old conflict. Best friends Rollie the Rollercoaster and Tootie the Runaway Train learn to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life in Rollie & Friends. “Each of these properties has been created to fill a niche in early children’s viewing, and they are collectively supported by fully scored musical backgrounds,” says Russell Dever, the managing director of Those Licensing People.
“MIPCOM this year is less about the sale of our own properties and more about the acquisition of rights that we can exploit in a digital marketplace.” —Russell Dever 266 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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P. King Duckling 60 TV KIDS
UYoung Culture & Media P. King Duckling P. King is a friendly yet hapless duck who, along with his friends Wombat and Chumpkins, comes up with creative and funny ways to overcome challenges in P. King Duckling. The comedy series targets preschoolers. “P. King Duckling is the very first Chinese animation to air in the U.S.,” says Clara Yang, the VP of international business for UYoung Entertainment International. “The colorful animation features a global backdrop and inspires universal themes such as positive thinking and curiosity and, most importantly, the show encourages the young audience to be themselves.” In addition to the second season of P. King Duckling and a set of short-form videos, UYoung has a development slate that includes another animated preschool program, a girl-based animated action-hero show and a family-friendly mixed-media animated series.
“Season two of P. King Duckling has already been greenlit, along with a collection of short-form videos.” —Clara Yang
WildWoods / Gigglebug / Timmi the Rocketeer Production is complete on the live-action adventure series WildWoods, featuring puppets in outdoor locations. “We’re excited to present the finished episodes, which stand out with an amazing and truly unique look,” says Stefanie Fischer, the head of content at WDR mediagroup. There is also a second season of Gigglebug, which teaches kids to be optimistic and laugh in the face of little mishaps. “This is an important message for kids,” Fischer explains. In Timmi the Rocketeer, a little boy dreams of going to space, so he builds his own rocket and planets. “Beautifully animated, the series inspires kids to use their imagination and become creative,” Fischer says. “There is one thing these shows have in common: positivity. They all encourage children to have a positive attitude and enjoy life.”
“Our catalog of high-quality kids’ programs has been growing continuously, and we’re trying to provide something for every audience.” —Stefanie Fischer
Xilam Animation Mr Magoo / Paprika / Oggy and the Cockroaches The cheerful yet disaster-prone Mister Magoo means well even when things don’t go exactly according to plan in a new animated series. “Mr Magoo is the reboot of an American classic, but it gains a unique edge when combined with Xilam’s creativity and modern touch,” says Morgann Favennec, the executive VP of development and global sales at Xilam Animation. The company is also promoting its first preschool series, Paprika. Favennec says: “We’ve worked hard to craft the show with a perfect balance of comedy, tenderness, discovery and imagination, and we’re very satisfied with the result.” The slate also features seasons five to seven of the flagship Oggy and the Cockroaches, which Favennec believes “remains inherently modern” as it approaches its 20th anniversary next year. “Our strong collection of new episodes showcases this,” she adds.
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“We continue to look for potential production partners who share our production standards and creative vision.” —Morgann Favennec
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ZDF Enterprises School of Roars / Wolfblood / Lassie Helping prep kids for academic life, School of Roars explores the first year of school through the eyes of mini-monsters. Lassie features the animated tales of the iconic dog in a new show that is “adventurous, humorous and a whole lot of fun,” says Peter Lang, the VP of ZDFE.junior at ZDF Enterprises. “Our animation highlights are lovable series about fun, friendship and imagination, and teach preschool children the basic values of life while preparing them for school. The emphasis is on gags and, at the same time, the main characters have very distinct and warm personalities. In live action, we are proud to offer the long-expected feature-film version of the worldwide blockbuster series Dance Academy,” titled Dance Academy: The Comeback. Another highlight is Wolfblood, about a group of teenagers who are part wolf.
“We are always looking for new co-production partners who are interested in bringing to life high-quality projects.” —Peter Lang
Zodiak Kids Lilybuds / Joe All Alone / Kody Kapow Tiny, magical gardeners live undetected in an urban oasis called Garden Park, where they work to create beautiful landscapes in Lilybuds. The show Joe All Alone centers on a 13-year-old whose mom leaves him by himself to go on holiday with her boyfriend. When Joe discovers a bag filled with money, a group of strangers starts to follow him around. The upper-preschool show Kody Kapow is about an aspiring martial arts-style superhero named Kody who spends the summer with his extended family in a small village in China. Eryk Casemiro, the chief creative officer of Zodiak Kids Studios, says the show is “perhaps more in line with the current trend of action heroes, however, this series focuses more on the mindfulness of martial arts, like themes of concentration, respect or perseverance.”
“In a world where kids have so many options, we believe that our point of difference is a way to stand out and get their attention.” Kody Kapow
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Nickelodeon is a favorite destination for children in the U.S. and around the world. It offers a diverse lineup of shows, from the timeless SpongeBob SquarePants to newer series like Henry Danger and The Thundermans. These can be viewed on the linear channel as well as online and on mobile devices, where youngsters can also enjoy a fun mix of content and games. Nickelodeon, a part of Viacom, is such an important contributor to its parent company’s bottom line that Viacom’s president and CEO, Robert Bakish, has named it one of the company’s flagship brands—not only for the strength of its programming but also for its numerous multiplatform extensions and its international success. Nick is one of Viacom’s global pay-TV brands that’s experiencing significant success in markets around By Anna Carugati the world, where Bakish continues to see opportunities for growth. TV KIDS: What led to the selection of Nickelodeon as one of Viacom’s flagship brands? BAKISH: It’s pretty clear why we picked Nickelodeon as a flagship: it’s the number one kids’ network by far. In fact, it’s increasing its lead in the U.S. over the number two and three networks, which are Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon has nine of the top ten shows for kids aged 6 to 11, and four or five of the top ten shows for preschoolers. It also is the furthest ahead in being a multiplatform expression. There have been some Nick films in the past. We’ve been doing an event called SlimeFest internationally and we’re going to bring it to the U.S. next year. We opened our first hotel internationally [in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic], and there’s a second one in the pipeline. We’re also increasingly active in the theme-park space. And we’ve got a large consumer-products business. TV KIDS: Where do you see opportunities for growth as you look across pay-TV markets outside the U.S.? BAKISH: The good news is that we continue to see strong and consistent growth from our brands internationally across geographies. Our international-networks group had its best year ever in 2016, in terms of profitability, and I continue to feel very good about 2017. The opportunity for growth comes from a mix of factors. We’re capitalizing on the growth in linear-TV viewing and pay-TV subscribers that is still happening in many markets. As a result of that, we have continued to grow our footprints; in fact, we launched 12 new networks in fiscal 2017 across a range of brands. But there is also an opportunity to participate, and in some cases experiment, with new and unique distribution models—whether mobile, OTT or some other form of ondemand. We created Viacom Play Plex, which is a mobile streaming platform; we have MTV Play, Comedy Central Play, Nickelodeon Play and others. We’ve deployed that with traditional MVPDs in an authenticated TV Everywhere context. In some markets, like Germany, where Nickelodeon is free to air, we’ve deployed Nick Play in front of the wall. We’ve also started to deploy it with mobile operators. We’re rolling
it out for Nick and Nick Jr. in Indonesia with an operator that has 170 million subscribers. Not all 170 million are going to get Play Plex (that’s for their data-tier subscribers), but it’s an interesting incremental opportunity. We’ve extended MTV in Japan to the mobile space through a series of deals, most recently with Hulu Japan, and as of a few months ago, we have more MTV consumption on mobile than we have on linear. China is an interesting market, we do a lot of business there licensing our content to AVOD platforms, and we also recently did a deal with iQiyi, which is the leading OTT service in China. We are going to create original Chinese animation to premiere on their platform and then we are going to use that animation, at least initially, in a Nick Asian orbit where we think we can export the product from China. We are using it as a bit of a learning market for other forms of AVOD. We have a venture called Viacom18 in India, which is home to the Colors brand. Last year, Viacom18 launched Voot, which currently has 10 million users and 100 million streams a month, and that’s a free product. We are also working on our My5 product in the U.K., with 2.5 million users and 20 million views a month—still small, but growing. What people miss about international is that they think, Oh, the opportunity is in the less mature markets. Well, no, there’s opportunity across all different types of markets. For example, in the last 18 months or so, we’ve added additional free-to-air services in Italy. First the Paramount Channel, then Spike TV; they are growing our audience share in Italy in a very traditional way. In our events and experiences businesses, international is leading the way, whether it’s theme parks in China or SlimeFest, which started in Australia, then moved to Spain, Italy, South Africa, and is coming to the U.K. and the U.S. in 2018. On the digital side, we bought the number two YouTube channel in Brazil; it’s called Porta dos Fundos and we’re using it as both a front-of-the-wall business in Brazil and as a creator of formats we are going to replicate and create for other markets. We are also going to expand it into the Spanish-speaking countries. There is a whole range of opportunities organically in international, and that has great growth legs ahead of it.
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DreamWorks Animation’s All Hail King Julien.
IT’S SHOWTIME! Leading buyers and commissioners weigh in on their programming needs. By Andy Fry s Netflix, Amazon and YouTube become ever more influential players in the kids’ content business, pay-TV and free-to-air broadcasters are redoubling their efforts to acquire or originate the best children’s programming from across the globe. “We’re operating in a world where there is more on offer than ever before, and we have to keep investing in quality content to cut through,” observes Cecilia Persson, VP of programming and content strategy for Turner’s kids’ platforms in EMEA and international acquisitions and co-productions. “Investing in content is a key business priority,” reports Jules Borkent, Nickelodeon’s executive VP for content and network management at Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). “Our budget has grown, and we are committed to experimenting with new models that maximize our investment. We are expanding our international partnerships across all touchpoints and screens.”
ORIGINAL SPIN Persson acknowledges that in this increasingly crowded landscape, “getting new projects off the ground is getting harder. What we need are more production incentives and tax credits.” However, she goes on to say that “we’ve been finding and working with some amazingly creative talent in
Europe and across the globe. We’re especially proud to have increased our European content investment by around 30 percent from 2016 to 2017—ensuring our channels deliver strong local relevance while complementing the amazing pipeline of U.S. content from Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros.” As a specific example, Persson mentions the Cartoon Network global original OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes. “The show started its life as a [short] called Lakewood Plaza Turbo, which we launched in EMEA over the summer, and we’ll be introducing a console game and a series of shorts around the series premiere. We’re also about to launch an EMEAproduced live-action game show called Ben 10 Challenge, which is based on our hugely popular Ben 10 franchise.” Overall, says Persson, Turner’s content budget is increasing, with its second flagship channel, Boomerang, also benefiting. “We’re in production on season two of our first Boomerang original, The Happos Family, produced by Cyber Group Studios, and will see episodes extended from 2.5 to 7 minutes. We’re also rolling out two new series from Warner Bros., based on very well-known, heritage IPs: Dorothy & the Wizard of Oz and Wacky Races.” Persson says that a key way to secure the best third-party content is to get in early with regard to relationships with producers. “Earlier this year we joined forces with Cyber Group
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Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed!, which is being sold by Jetpack Distribution, is a recent CBBC commission.
Studios to create a series for Boomerang called Taffy. Taffy came about from a development deal with Cyber Group, and is a good example of the importance we place on getting on board early with our partners to develop a show that fits with the unique values of our channels. Grizzy & the Lemmings, our first global acquisition for Boomerang, is another.” Like Turner, Nickelodeon has a new flagship property that comes from a nontraditional source, and another that is an extension of an existing franchise. “Welcome to the Wayne started as a digital series and will now be premiering globally as a full-length series,” Borkent explains. “It follows the adventures of two 10-year-old boys exploring the unpredictable world inside their New York apartment building. We are also looking forward to the animated spinoff Turner’s Boomerang acquired the global rights to HARI’s Grizzy & the Lemmings. of our hit show Henry Danger, which will give our fans the opportunity to see some of their favorite development for Disney Channels EMEA and general manNickelodeon characters in fresh ways.” ager for Disney Channels UK and Ireland, mentioning Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir and PJ Masks. “Both have been greenlit for multiple seasons. We have a PARTNER POTENTIAL strong track record of working with independent producLive action has been less prominent on kids’ pay-TV chaners and distributors across EMEA, and we will continue nels in recent years, but Borkent flags the second season of to collaborate with partners to deliver great content.” the mystery adventure series Hunter Street, which will Among Disney’s exciting new business models, Levine sinreturn to the Netherlands for filming. “Hunter Street is a gles out Penny on M.A.R.S., a project with 3Zero2, the Milangreat example of our co-pro efforts, having been co-developed based production company behind Disney Channel’s Alex & with the Nick Netherlands series De Ludwigs before airing Co. “This is the first time we are producing an Englishacross our channels globally.” language series in Italy for use across the region, leveraging Co-productions are also proving important at The Walt the expertise of 3Zero2 and our U.K. team.” Disney Company. “Some of our most successful, brandLevine is also excited about two book-based series for Disney defining series in EMEA are co-productions,” says David Junior and an original concept for Disney XD. “Gigantosaurus, Levine, the VP of programming, production and strategic based on a book by Jonny Duddle and produced by Cyber Group, will come to Disney Junior in 2019. So will Claude, which is based on the books by Alex T. Smith and produced by Sixteen South. Space Chickens in Space will debut in 2018 on Disney XD and tells the story of a trio of chickens enrolled in an elite intergalactic military academy.” At France’s Lagardère Active, the parent company of Gulli, Canal J and TiJi, upcoming highlights include the return of Xilam Animation’s Oggy and the Cockroaches and a slew of DreamWorks Animation series following last year’s deal with the company. Caroline Cochaux, the managing director for France and international at Lagardère Active TV and CEO of Gulli, also mentions the Korean series Badanamu Cadets and the return of flagships like Power Rangers, Pokémon, Zig & Sharko and Franky. While Lagardère Active acquires finished programs, it also invests in shows via prebuys and co-pros so that it can have some creative input. Recent examples include Maya the Bee, Sonic Boom, Zak Storm and Magiki. “We are also very excited to launch Arthur and the Minimoys, the first animated series produced by EuropaCorp and 276 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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accounted for 35 percent of our lineup, so it was a big job to replace them,” says Dietz. “The way we did it was to create a series of content supply deals with leading U.S. players like DreamWorks, Turner and Warner Bros., as well as with many other suppliers from Canada, France and Asia. It was important for us to act quickly so that we didn’t lose share at the younger end of the audience to new players like YouTube. And it has worked well, because we are no longer bound by one major studio’s output.” DreamWorks Animation is the most prominent supplier of shows to SUPER RTL, with hit series such as Dragons. Other titles on the schedule include DHX Media’s Inspector Gadget, LEGO’s Ninjago, Warner Bros.’ The Tom and Jerry Show, 9 Story’s Wild Kratts and CAKE’s Angelo Rules. Shows targeted at preschoolers via the channel’s Toggolino sub-brand include Octonauts, Caillou and Bob the Builder. One of the channel’s other significant strengths is that it continues to be a major player in Germany’s licensing-and-merchandising business. “Very often, we act as the agent for producers and distributors,” says Dietz, “which is an attractive factor when you combine it with the exposure we can provide on TV. That’s one reason we have been able to secure a show like Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol, despite the fact that Nickelodeon also has a kids’ channel in Germany.”
TOON TIME Mediatoon’s Yakari has been a consistent hit on KiKA in Germany. Studio 100 and inspired by the Luc Besson trilogy,” Cochaux says. “Others are still in progress, like Ricky Zoom and Lilybuds. Currently we are involved in 19 creations, including three new development agreements at this time.” Cochaux says her main goal is “to keep a clear focus on the editorial positioning of our brands. We need to remain coherent for our channels’ target audience by offering the best programs we can get.”
BATTLE LINES In France, Lagardère Active’s biggest competitor in the kids’ space is public broadcaster France Télévisions. Similarly, in Germany, a big commercial channel and a pubcaster are battling it out for pole position. According to Frank Dietz, SUPER RTL’s deputy program director and head of acquisitions and co-productions, the channel is currently the market leader, with a 21-percent share among kids aged 3 to 13 in the 6 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. time period. Only KiKA, with a 20.4-percent share, comes close. Dietz attributes that success to two factors. The first is brand loyalty. “We’re a trusted family brand with a strong tradition,” he says. “We’ve reached the point now where there is a generation of new parents introducing their children to SUPER RTL.” The second factor is shrewd program selection since SUPER RTL lost Disney—a 50-percent owner in the channel—as a content supplier when the company opted to launch its own branded service in Germany. “Disney shows
A key editorial change in the post-Disney era is a reduced reliance on live action, says Dietz. “Disney and Nick tend to dominate this area, and they still produce a significant amount. For now, we carry more animation because they air live action on their own channels, which leads us to focus on this genre. It’s also worth noting that animation generally has a longer shelf life.” While live action has reduced in significance, Dietz says that the channel still commissions some factual content around subjects such as knowledge and animals. “These shows work well for us because they have extremely popular and recognizable hosts.” Neck and neck with SUPER RTL in Germany is KiKA, the kids’ channel owned by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF. Sebastian Debertin, KiKA’s head of fiction, acquisitions and co-productions, says the channel is prioritizing a mix of originals and “strong brands and characters that have the potential to be re-created, like the new Blinky Bill animated CGI series. We loved the original brand very much, so we decided with our partners at Studio 100 Media and Flying Bark Productions to truly update it and to make it a series for older kids.” According to Debertin, “the stories are fast-paced and great fun for kids 6 to 10-plus, and have a strong appeal for parents. On top of that, it was important to keep social media in mind. So we have hilarious scenes that work in a shorter format for Facebook, YouTube, etc.” Other key projects cited by Debertin include Super Wings, a co-production with EBS, CJ E&M, Little Airplane Productions, FunnyFlux and China’s QianQi Animation, “which was a huge success on KiKA’s linear TV as well as ondemand and other platforms. We had a wonderful response on KiKA’s own website, on YouTube and on Facebook. Also
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Welcome to the Wayne originated as a web show and now airs on Nickelodeon feeds across the globe.
important is Yakari, which we built up as a successful brand on the channel.” Children’s public broadcasting is also in excellent form in the U.K. “People might have noticed the announcement that our director, Alice Webb, made recently about additional funding for BBC Children’s,” says Jackie Edwards, the head of acquisitions and independent animation for CBeebies and CBBC. “It’s tremendous news, but still too early to say exactly how this will be used—so, for now, our acquisitions budget remains unchanged.” Some of BBC Children’s big performers include The Next Step, the DreamWorks Dragons franchise and The Deep on CBBC; and Hey Duggee, Peter Rabbit, Bing and Clangers on CBeebies. “We are also very excited about a couple of ‘coming soons.’ These include Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed!, a 52-part CG series that will bring Dennis up to date for the next generation of fans. Re-developed by Jen Upton-Allin, the new episodes are feisty, fastpaced and funny, and will air on CBBC this autumn.” For CBeebies, Edwards picks out Pablo, from Belfast-based Paper Owl Films. “Pablo is a little boy on the autism spectrum. He uses magic crayons to turn his life challenges into amazing adventures and his feelings into fantastic characters to face the real world with confidence.”
ANYWHERE, ANYTIME According to all the programmers surveyed here, success is not just about finding the right content—it’s also about coming up with the best multiplatform strategy to make sure that the shows are reaching kids wherever they are. “Our audiences are made up of digital natives, so we have to adapt to their use,” says Lagardère’s Cochaux. Gulli has been especially strong in digital, she adds. “In 2016, it had 30 million views each month and its free app was downloaded 5 million times.”
BBC’s Edwards references the tremendous success of the iPlayer with young audiences. “Some of our brands rack up tens or even hundreds of millions of views on this platform,” Edwards says. “We’ve had catch-up rights in our acquisitions contracts for a number of years, so no change there. We are and will be spending more time looking at brand extensions for our acquired titles. We look at shows on a case-by-case basis and are looking at commissioning additional content, games, short-form, etc., at pre-greenlight stage wherever possible. There are additional funds available for the right ideas, so we are having conversations with producers much earlier.”
MANAGING RIGHTS Nickelodeon is also insistent on nonlinear rights. “As Nickelodeon’s international audience watches our content on so many different platforms and services, it is key that we ensure we have the necessary rights to give them that opportunity,” Borkent notes. “We need to be everywhere our young fans are.” Disney’s Levine agrees with his peers that one of the big challenges is making sure the brand is wherever audiences are. “We are always aware of kids’ viewing habits, as well as looking to give our fans a first look at content with exclusive windowing on owned platforms like the Disney Channel app and DisneyLife. Our audiences are accessing content in more ways than ever before, and our mission is to make sure that our content is available where they are. Our content needs to go further than ever before, so we look to optimize our production budgets to deliver not only linear content but social, short-form, interstitial and micro content.” Similarly, Dietz says that SUPER RTL targets kids across a range of digital and real-world touchpoints. One of these is Kividoo, a kids’ SVOD service that launched in 2015. Accordingly, SUPER RTL acquires show rights for both TV and its SVOD platform. A case in point was a recent deal with Nelvana,
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SUPER RTL’s acquisitions have included DHX Media and Mattel Creations’ Bob the Builder.
under which Hotel Transylvania: The Series, Ranger Rob and Stanley Dynamic were picked up for use across platforms. One bone of contention for KiKA continues to be restrictions on what the station can do with on-demand. “By law, we simply cannot broadcast licensed content on-demand,” Debertin explains. “That limits our online and nonlinear possibilities heavily, especially compared to our commercial competitors. We need a fair, balanced situation for the sake of a strong production landscape.”
Disney’s Levine, meanwhile, is keeping an eye out for “real heart and optimism at the core of the stories we tell, brought to life with great characters, a fresh creative point and a dash of magic. For animation, we are mainly looking for gender-balanced comedies for kids 6 and up. Live action should be relatable, relevant, contemporary and lighthearted, mainly for kids 6 to 9.” Comedies are also on the wish list for BBC’s Edwards. “It can be hard to find comedy that feels relevant to the CBBC audience, so we’re always interested in something that has the potential to make us titter.” Edwards adds, “It’s fair to say that every show’s funding is different, and we are continually impressed with the invention and creativity that producers bring to the financing of shows. We try to be flexible and helpful where we can be, but as a PSB, there are certain constraints we have to observe.” Financial considerations aside, one of the key influencers in decision-making is audience research, Nickelodeon’s Borkent notes. “We listen to kids first, because it’s important that our content celebrates and reflects the realities of being a kid. We are looking for broad comedy, both in animation and live action. New and interesting formats are also high on the agenda. We are constantly looking for creative ideas and content formats that allow us to tell stories in a different way, and ideas that could come from any part of the world. We’re also finding the web to be an incubator for great talent and a way of seeing what resonates with our different fans around the world.”
Debertin says his programming budget has remained fairly constant, “but we have to face the fact that the costs go up heavily. We all have to play the game on a much bigger playground with all the new platforms, so smart thinking and solutions outside the box are a must. We have a new structure that means we are more prepared for the digital era, allowing us to create and produce according to digital needs.” He says that KiKA is on the hunt for series, animated or live action, targeting the 6-to-9 set, “for example, animated dramedies. The market needs series that tell great stories with identifiable and lovable characters—with 26 or 52 compelling episodes that can work, if possible, on all platforms. But we are also working on projects ourselves; for example, our co-pro Mystery Museum with Hahn Film.” SUPER RTL’s Dietz is on the lookout for a wide variety of shows, but he does stress that “relatable comedies connected to everyday life work well.” He says the channel is also exploring ways to work with German production companies, “though this is a slower process because of limited budgets and the need to find co-production partners to finance shows.” Lagardère’s Cochaux also has a broad remit. “We are attached to our values: friendship, humor, respect, tolerance. We are open-minded to every project, as long as it has creative values and fits our audiences.” At Turner, Persson is focusing on “finding new shows for Boomerang to join our pipeline of slapstick, animated comedies for kids 4 to 7 and their families.” Badanamu Cadets, from Calm Island, presold to the preschool service TiJi. 282 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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9 Story’s Nature Cat.
WE’RE BACK! David Wood hears from leading producers and distributors about how to keep kids’ shows fresh—season after season. roadcasters and platforms want volume, perhaps even more so in the kids’ content space than anywhere else. And fulfilling that desire is no easy feat, given the costs and long timelines involved in producing animation. Not to mention that fickle young ones are quick to move on to the next thing if they aren’t kept engaged. “It’s very important to be in a position to offer broadcasters volume on kids’ series, because they need enough episodes to build their schedules,” says Hans Ulrich Stoef, the CEO of m4e and Studio 100 Media. “And 13 episodes, which was considered to be a respectable first season 15 years ago, is not enough for most broadcasters now,” Stoef adds. “If you have just made 13 and it’s a success, that’s great, but you can’t suddenly pull another 13 out of the hat. In my view, the best case for broadcasters is 52 episodes, and producers should be thinking in terms of 26 to 52 episodes from the start. For half-hour formats, we don’t do less than 26 episodes. And for shorter preschool episodes, we are looking to do 52 straightaway.” Micheline Azoury, the head of acquisitions and TV sales at Mondo TV Group, reveals that most of the company’s shows are developed as 52 11-minute episodes. “There is an exception—for Invention Story we are committed, along with our partner York
Animation, to 104 11-minute episodes for five consecutive seasons. This idea of securing five seasons of one brand for the next five years seems to appeal to quite a few broadcasters.” And it’s not just the broadcasters who benefit. “A 26-part series takes the same effort to sell as a one-hour special,” explains Jérôme Alby, the managing director of Mediatoon Distribution, which distributes long-running TV brands such as Minimighty Kids, Yakari, The Garfield Show and Bobby and Bill. “And the production cost of the second season of 26 episodes will cost just 30 percent of the first season, so the economies of scale make a lot of sense. Another way of looking at it is that at the start, a show will cost €10,000 ($11,900) to €14,000 ($16,600) per minute to produce, whereas the 39th episode will cost €8,000 ($9,500).”
MANAGING TIME So when do producers start planning for those additional seasons? “Very early on,” says Claus Tømming, the managing partner at INK Group. “Thanks to the story-driven approach of our brands, we’ll have at least two (and sometimes three) seasons mapped out even before we even start presales.” Obviously, it would be a mistake to do too much detailed development before season one has started and broadcasters have been able to gauge its success. For Jetpack Distribution CEO Dominic Gardiner, the end of production on season
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Studio 100 resurrected the German classic Maya the Bee in 2012 and has 104 episodes available of the CGI show.
one is one of the most critical times for shows, because it’s the point at which many find their feet. “As the producer, you will have seen natural development in stories and characters, and that’s the point when you [explore] what worked and what didn’t work,” Gardiner says. Vince Commisso, the president and CEO of 9 Story Media Group, says that at the end of season one, his teams carry out a detailed post-mortem and creative review. “It includes an appraisal of every character and every storyline, a rewrite of the bible and an assessment of what’s working or not working.” Commisso insists that it’s an essential piece of analysis, with input from the broadcast partners and specialist researchers. An indication of how seriously 9 Story takes this process is its relationship with producer Angela Santomero, the creator of Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood, among other shows. “With Angela’s help, we use a combination of research, science and instinct to make sure that the content we create engages with kids,” says Commisso. He adds that 9 Story conducts focus groups with fans of the show, as well as with kids who do not watch the series.
“We monitor them as they watch and get researchers— people with early childhood development specialties—who can decipher what the kids’ reactions mean. We feel like we have nailed it if we can identify the three big moments in a script. Is there a big funny moment making the kids laugh? Have we taught them something? Is there a feel-good moment that brings everyone closer together? We look especially hard at those moments because they are the things that distinguish the shows we produce.” The appetite for new episodes is driven in part by the target audience. Preschoolers in the 2 to 4 age range are more likely to be happy with a greater number of repeats, while older viewers in the 6 to 12 age range will be looking for new episodes, new characters, more development and greater story progression. Mediatoon’s Alby offers up Trotro, one of France’s best TV exports, as an example. The animated show about a young donkey has only amassed 78 3.5-minute episodes but remains a strong seller. “It’s true that there’s less pressure for new shows for 2- to 4-year-olds, whereas with older demos it’s very useful to have new ideas, and to try new things with the characters.” Stoef at Studio 100 and m4e adds, “With preschoolers, it’s fine to reuse existing sets up to 100 11-minute episodes, but with the 6 to 9 age group and beyond, you need to add new, exciting storylines and new characters, good or evil, rather than just repeat, or else the older kids will disappear.”
AUDIENCE RESPONSE One series from 9 Story that did undergo extensive change following in-depth research on viewers’ reactions to the first season was Camp Lakebottom, an animated show aimed at 6- to 11-year-olds now in its third season. “We found that the stories were too complicated—not simple and clean enough for viewers,” Commisso says. “The research also showed that the monsters in the show needed to be more identifiable and goofier, too.” The central character, McGee, was made into more of an ordinary kid who had situations thrust upon him, rather than being a superhero kid who could handle everything
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INK represents the Russian series Masha and the Bear, which is currently in production on a 26-episode third season.
that was thrown at him. “That reframed him in the eye of the audience,” explains Commisso. “They began to see him more as ‘he’s like me—so if I am put in those situations, I will rise to the occasion too.’ ” Stoef, whose combined portfolio of returning brands includes Mia and me and Maya the Bee, among others, emphasizes that innovation in character development is important for a number of reasons, particularly with shows aimed at 6- to 11-year-olds. “First, you don’t want to lose your fans,” he says. “If it’s boring, the ratings will go down and the broadcaster could cancel the show, so the pressure is on to deliver creative content all the way through. It’s too risky to make it the same—because you can end up killing your brand. Also, innovation with new characters, new creatures and props is very important to help create new licensed goods. If kids have bought the toy for one season, you need something new and collectible for season two.”
FRESH FARE Mondo TV’s Azoury agrees that adding new characters and elements to each season is key to a show’s development. “Otherwise, what are you bringing that makes this season different from the last? It’s especially important as kids are very focused on the specifics. You should never underestimate their scrupulous attention to detail. The main heroes or characters in shows have to be there, but so do new friends, characters, gadgets, adventures or locations—in every new season.” The secret to continuing the success of the first season into subsequent runs is simple but not necessarily easy, insists INK’s Tømming. “The audience responds to the quality of the story and the characters. There are rare occurrences of a ‘chain reaction,’ when a show takes off for no apparent reason. When that happens, you just need to enjoy the ride and hope the sudden magic doesn’t fizzle out too soon. But usually, it’s a mixture of talent, inspiration and hard work.” Mediatoon distributes some of the world’s biggest kids’ TV brands, including 156 episodes of Yakari and 214 episodes of The Garfield Show.
“Typically, innovation comes in different aesthetic treatments,” Alby says, referencing Yakari’s CGI with 2D render. Innovation can also come from “a bigger focus on peripheral characters and occasionally changing the format, with the production of specials around holidays or special occasions such as Halloween or Christmas. We have also changed our animation The Crumpets, about a very large oddball family, which had more than 100 characters in season one to focus on just half a dozen main characters in season two.” Alby also notes the tweaks made to Futurikon’s Minimighty Kids. “While the first season focused on the individual problems of one kid, the second season switched to a group focus on five to six kids. Season three returned to the original concept of one kid’s problem per episode.” Tweaking formats isn’t a problem, so long as the treatment stays true to the original DNA of the show, says Alby. “Avoid alienating viewers by keeping the core of what makes the brand or the character so special,” he advises. “Make sure the writing sticks to that formula.”
ORIGINAL VISION One of the best ways to ensure that a new series adheres to the secret sauce that made it work is to maintain the original creative team—the writers and directors in particular, says Alby, who points out that Yakari and Garfield have had the same director since episode one. “Also, when you develop, don’t do it in isolation. The commissioning channel usually has a lead role in pointing the way forward. It’s also important to keep in mind the brand’s rights holders, who may want to approve any departures or changes. They will also understand the show’s original DNA better than most.” One cartoon that has changed dramatically over the years, but has managed to preserve the core elements that made it a success, is Scooby-Doo, observes Jetpack’s Gardiner. “Scooby-Doo has been produced every few years since 1969—everybody thinks the classic show is the one they watched as a kid! The animation style has changed, and they have introduced new characters like Scrappy-Doo when ratings flagged, but they have always managed to retain the key chemistry that made it work.” Gardiner continues, “If a series makes it to four seasons it’s clearly a big hit, but at that point, you may be talking about finding new audiences as its original viewers move on. The important thing to remember is the old adage: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ You may improve your animation quality or other parts of your storytelling, but keep the core of the show’s successful formula.” Indeed, seasons three and four are where things can go wrong, Gardiner reports. “People either think of it as a sausage factory and don’t innovate enough, or change things too much and ‘jump the shark,’ ” he says. The secret to success is finding the sweet spot somewhere in between.
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CAKEâ€™s Astroboy Reboot.
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Superheroes are big business at the box office, but do they resonate with young viewers at home? David Wood investigates. ove over Batman, SpiderMan, Thor and Wonder Woman—there’s a new breed of superheroes, designed just for kids, who are angling for a piece of children’s viewing time (and, of course, parents’ spending power at retail). The comic-book-based heroes who dominate summer box-office revenues do indeed have their roots in kids’ publishing, but their screen spin-offs have generally skewed older. And given that superheroes never seem to go out of style, it’s no wonder that kids’ producers are keen to give young ones an alternative to the icons of the DC Comics and Marvel stables. “At their core, superheroes are fantasies about being powerful enough to overcome extreme adversity,” says Bob Higgins, executive VP at FremantleMedia Kids & Family, which is home to the rebooted Danger Mouse. “Whether that is through the possession of superpowers or super gadgets, it’s in our nature to want to be able to endure and overcome.”
POWER PLAYERS Olivier Dumont, the managing director of Entertainment One (eOne) Family, which is riding high on the success of PJ Masks, adds, “Kids, in particular, can feel pretty powerless. So characters who have strong abilities and powers are extremely empowering and appealing. They are über-aspirational—you want to be them or be like them.” Pierre Sissmann, the chairman and CEO of Cyber Group Studios, insists that we are currently in a “golden age” of superhero animation, revealing that his studio has a number of projects in development that he is gearing up to introduce at this year’s MIPCOM. So why are superheroes so hot right now? Eryk Casemiro, the chief creative officer at Zodiak Kids Studios, offers up
this theory: “Historically, superheroes tend to have their biggest uptick in popularity in times of world strife. Batman, a comic character from the late 1930s, became hugely popular during the height of the Cold War in the 1960s.” The 21st-century equivalent of the Cold War is the struggle against terrorism, Casemiro argues. “Superheroes are important to kids because they can see in their characters individuals fighting against big problems and looking forward fearlessly and with hope.” At their most basic level, superheroes and their special powers act as a simple case of wish fulfillment. “Who wouldn’t want to be able to fly—no question, the best superhero power!” declares Terry Kalagian, the VP of creative for animation at Gaumont. “Who wouldn’t want to run fast? Who wouldn’t want to be able to fix something they messed up or save somebody in jeopardy?” On a practical level, superpowers become the bases for kids’ play patterns as they socialize and work out their problems. “For kids, fantasizing about having superpowers never feels stale,” notes Ken Faier, senior VP and executive producer at DHX Content. “But that doesn’t mean that superhero shows can’t be badly made, overproduced or end up with the wrong emotional core.” For Tom van Waveren, the CEO and creative director at CAKE, producers making superhero shows for kids should take a page out of Hollywood’s book. “Twenty years ago, superhero movies were taking themselves very, very seriously,” van Waveren says. “Now, it’s tongue-in-cheek comedy, but there are real threats, real bad guys, and a world that needs to be saved. You see that translating back to TV. Superhero movies and series are having fun with the rules of the genre without undermining it.” According to Cyber Group’s Sissmann, the secret is not to look at the subject as a monolithic genre full of familiar stereotypes, and to think outside the box. “Characters with superpowers—but not necessarily the superpowers you are used to seeing.”
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superpowers at night. Production is underway on a second set of 52 episodes for 2018, with a third season in development. “We know that preschoolers love superheroes in terms of the toys, but they found it difficult to engage with some superhero themes that were a bit too old for them,” says Dumont. “We tailored the themes, making them ageappropriate and relevant to what preschool kids would aspire to and go through in their own daily lives. Preschool treatments need to be more subtle than simply beating the bad guy. There’s a strong emphasis on positive values, such as teamwork, kindness and what it truly means to be a hero.” PJ Masks’ characters go on adventures, defeat villains, solve mysteries and learn valuable lessons along the way. “For TV we clearly bookend the show with the characters as normal kids who can transform to have superhero abilities,” Dumont adds. “That was important to help create the relatable qualities of PJ Masks.” Relatability is critical for all age groups, adds Cyber Group’s Sissmann. “In the past, superheroes have been extraordinary people in ordinary situations, who have used their superpowers to solve problems. Now we are looking at it the other way around—with ordinary people in extraordinary situations who develop superpowers for one reason or another.”
Entertainment One’s PJ Masks has been a breakout hit, demonstrating that superheroes can work for the preschool set.
One current trend is the creation of characters with different types of powers, says Sissmann. “In place of X-Men-style speed, strength and morphing, are other superpowers that haven’t been developed yet—psychic powers, for example.” Zodiak Kids’ Casemiro notes, “We have to recognize as producers that we compete against Marvel and DC, which use up a lot of the oxygen in this space. It’s incumbent on us to find new ways into the superhero genre. Finding fresh ways to do superheroes gets harder.” A few years ago, Dumont at eOne spotted potential for a new approach—a superhero show tailored to preschoolers. That hunch ultimately led to the creation of PJ Masks. The show from eOne and Frog Box is based on a series of books about three ordinary 6-year-olds who are imbued with
JUST LIKE ME CAKE’s van Waveren also stresses the importance of relatability. “For today’s audience, you need to develop superheroes who have many more layers to their personalities. They are more well-rounded as characters, or more flawed. That makes for more interesting storytelling. The challenge is they still need to be aspirational in the moments that they’re in their hero role—when they are saving the world. When they’re not, they need to have the vulnerability of a character that you would find in another kind of comedy or drama.” To illustrate his point, van Waveren uses the upcoming Astroboy Reboot, from French studios Caribara
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TF1 is on board Cyber Group’s new project Droners, featuring a drone-racing team of heroes.
Animation and Shibuya Productions, with CAKE handling distribution. “We’re fleshing out his character and his world to make him more relatable, but still keeping him aspirational as well. We’re giving him a family and having him figure out not only what it is to be human, but how it is to have siblings and function within a family unit.” FremantleMedia’s Higgins adds that another challenge in developing superhero properties is finding the appropriate threat level for a particular age group—an obstacle the company managed with Tree Fu Tom. “For younger viewers, for instance, there is much more blurring of TV and reality—they don’t simply see it as storytelling,” explains Higgins. “As a result, stories have to be positioned more carefully; the question is, how do we create a threat that’s threatening enough to make it compelling without giving preschoolers the feeling that they are in jeopardy. It’s a balancing act.” Higgins continues, “Older viewers are much more willing to accept life and death threats. For 10- to 12-yearolds, it’s much clearer that they are safe and simply along for the roller-coaster ride.”
BREAKING THE MOLD One way the kids’ market has innovated is in broadening the boundaries of what constitutes a superhero. For the purist, a superhero has to possess superpowers, but there have always been exceptions—such as Batman, who relied on a distinctive outfit and a lot of clever gadgets. The central character in Zodiak Kids’ latest preschool superhero creation, Kody Kapow, is trained in martial
arts by his grandfather and has superhero traits such as mindfulness, perseverance and patience—but no clear special powers.
GIRL POWER Another important trend is the development of girl-power concepts following the success of Marathon Media’s Totally Spies, about the exploits of three Beverly Hills high school friends who lead double careers as super agents battling villains. More recently, there has been the success of Zagtoon and Method Animation’s Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. The series underlines the potential of this subgenre, with eOne and Cyber Group now in development on their own superhero shows specifically targeting girls. CAKE, meanwhile, arrives at MIPCOM with Mama K’s Super 4, which is being produced by Triggerfish Animation Studios in South Africa. “It’s about four African girls who live in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia,” van Waveren says. “Mama K used to be in the secret service of her country, but now that she’s retired she is battling her colleague, who used to be on the good side but has joined the dark side. These four girls are helping her. What we love about it, apart from the fact that it’s a girl-led show, is that the creator is herself Zambian. What we want to do is tell superhero stories with an African flavor and we will be using African writing talent on the show to accomplish that. Malenga Mulendema, the creator, pitched the show at Annecy. She said that when she was growing up, superhero cartoons were her favorite, but she felt she was not represented in them. Hardly any of the superheroes were girls. And absolutely nobody was
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Danger Mouse, from FremantleMedia Kids & Family, features a secret agent mouse and his hamster sidekick protecting the world.
black. She set out to create a show that she would have wanted to watch as a little girl.” Toronto’s DHX Media has one of the strongest superhero portfolios in kids’ TV. It includes Max Steel, which DHX produces for Mattel, The League of Super Evil, Dr. Dimensionpants, and new projects Mega Man and Massive Monster Mayhem, a 20-part superhero game show for Nickelodeon in the U.S. Massive Monster Mayhem is easily DHX’s biggest innovation in the superhero genre, with live-action gameplay and intergalactic challenges against gigantic monsters that earn prizes and save the world from destruction, explains Faier. “It’s a mash-up of genres and a unique way of having fun with the superhero idea,” he says.
LAUGH TRACK Perhaps the most critical component of a successful superhero show for kids is comedy, argues Faier. “We have had a lot of fun with the genre in shows such as League of Super Evil, which is a comedy parody of the superhero genre aimed at 6- to 11-year-olds. When League of Super Evil really clicked for us was when we differentiated the main character Voltar from the really super-evil villains, which is the source of much of the comedy. Basically, Voltar is, in essence, a kid who wants to be acknowledged by real villains. This works because he’s subtly just like a kid trying to fit in at school and be accepted.” Faier goes on to note that “the original superhero shows in the 1960s, which were developed by toy companies, were pretty straight, but treatments have to be a lot more sophisticated now. One thing’s for sure—shows which are too straight or too heavy on action and short on laughs don’t repeat as well as superhero shows with a sense of comedy or levity.”
Gaumont’s latest superhero project, The Star Shards Chronicles, certainly fits the sophisticated mold. Based on a famous, epic sci-fi trilogy by Neal Shusterman, Star Shards is “a bit different from your classic Marvel superhero concept,” says Gaumont’s Kalagian. The story starts with a series of regular kids with extreme versions of common teenage problems such as acne, obesity and raging hormones.
EVERYDAY POWERS “It’s kind of X-Men-ish in that each of the kids is experiencing the kinds of situations all kids can identify with— feeling left out or rejected or not knowing what’s happening to them or their own bodies. The story’s strength is that it taps into common issues felt widely by kids,” says Kalagian. “What unites them is that they were all conceived at the same instant that a star exploded light-years away, giving them extraordinary powers such as healing or clarifying someone’s mind—much more subtle superpowers than those we traditionally recognize.” The challenge will be to empathetically characterize the novel’s six main characters for an animated kids’ TV format. Kalagian is clear about what her creative team needs to do to turn the epic into a success. “What all successful TV does is act as both a mirror and a window. We want to see ourselves in stories and not be confronted with a world that is so foreign that people say, ‘I don’t get this,’ which is always a risk in the superhero genre. But what superheroes are really good at is offering kids a window into another world where we wish we could be, or we wish we could have those people as friends. There’s some comfort in thinking that there would be somebody in a different world who could look out for and take care of us.”
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ACTF’s Wacky World Beaters.
KIDS GET REAL From wildlife to game shows, there are numerous live-action factual series available for young audiences. By Joanna Padovano Tong ith reality series, game shows and documentaries aplenty, there is no shortage of options for adults wanting to tune in to live-action factual fare. But grown-ups aren’t the only television consumers looking for this type of programming; kids, too, crave unscripted series—led by real-life talent—that can both entertain and educate them. Of course, don’t tell them that they might learn something from the content in their media diets. Much like proactive parents sneaking peas into their little one’s mac-and-cheese, producers of children’s programming are given the stealth task of discreetly incorporating educational elements into their live-action factual productions. “That’s the magic combination,” says Genevieve Dexter, the founder and CEO of Serious Lunch, which sells the liveaction factual-entertainment series Operation Ouch! and Art Ninja. “Hopefully you’re entertaining them and they barely notice that you are giving them information in the process. As soon as it looks like you’re trying to tell them something [educational], they’ll be like, Well, I can read a book for that—I don’t need you doing that on TV!”
In Germany, Maus’s combination of “short documentaries and funny animated clips is the perfect means to balance out education and entertainment,” reports Stefanie Fischer, the head of content at WDR mediagroup (WDRmg). “The documentary parts address topics that are relevant to kids—for example, Why is the sky blue? or, How do the stripes get into toothpaste? If these educational components deliver answers to kids’ most urgent questions, they automatically become entertaining for them as well.”
HEALTHY SNACKING “The goal is always to stress the entertainment aspects first, and then put in the educational components secondarily,” adds Joy Rosen, co-founder and CEO of Portfolio Entertainment, which boasts the live-action factual show Do You Know? in its slate. “Kids really get the difference between entertainment and school, so that’s why we always try to stress the entertainment—great characters, interesting hosts, a lot of humor, a little bit of irreverence; everything that separates it from what they construe as being strictly educational.” Live-action factual series with educational elements are the ones that resonate most with young viewers, reports Munia Kanna-Konsek, the head of sales at Beyond Distribution,
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parents control. They can’t control YouTube as much as what their kids watch on TV.” The wonders of the natural world are also a major draw for young viewers. Many producers are finding that kids need their own spin on wildlife content, even though they can certainly watch shows like Planet Earth II with Mom and Dad.
In Portfolio’s Do You Know?, YouTube star Maddie Moate explores everyday objects.
which represents such titles as Backyard Science, Kid Detectives, History Hunters, The Dengineers and Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom. “Backyard Science, Kid Detectives and History Hunters all have kids demonstrating easy, practical, cool, educational and scientific things to do in your home and backyard,” she says. Even the game shows in Beyond’s catalog, including Lab Rats Challenge and Steam Punks, are science-based and therefore provide an opportunity for children to expand their minds. “There is a huge emphasis on STEM programming at the moment, so I think science subjects are really performing very well, and are probably out-performing the arts in that they seem to be something that people place a lot of value on for acquisition,” notes Serious Lunch’s Dexter. “Science has always been interesting to kids, as long as it’s delivered in a really fun and entertaining way,” adds Portfolio’s Rosen. “There’s a lot of interest from parents in getting their kids more educated, and television is still one medium that the
“I realized that there was a gap in the kids’ business when it came to wildlife,” says Marc du Pontavice, the founder and CEO of Xilam Animation. The studio has made a foray into the live-action factual space with the wildlife documentary series If I Were an Animal…, which explores how different creatures transition from the newborn phase through to adulthood. “There are plenty of wildlife [docs] for prime time, but all of them are written and produced mostly for adults. They have a serious tone [and] a lot of the imagery is not necessarily appropriate for kids, who really love animals.” The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) distributes the wildlife-themed shows Bushwhacked! and WAC (World Animal Championships). “Our wildlife adventure series Bushwhacked! was very successful for SUPER RTL in Germany and was picked up by Discovery Kids Asia, as well as by National Geographic Kids in the U.S. for their VOD platform,” says Tim Hegarty, the company’s international sales manager. “Irish-language broadcaster TG4 licensed the format rights to our hosted wildlife series World Animal Championships in 2014 and created their own version, using local hosts speaking in the Irish language. And in January of this year, U.K. kids’ SVOD platform Azoomee licensed Bushwhacked! as well as Wacky World Beaters.”
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certain ages and other kids think, This is lame. They turn off quite quickly unless they really think that the host is cool. They’ve got to find the host aspirational and want to follow them as people, because if not, then you’ve fallen at the first hurdle.”
WANTED: YOUTUBERS WDRmg’s acclaimed series Maus features live-action segments, such as one with German astronaut Alexander Gerst.
While animals are adorable and appealing to watch, it’s also important for a live-action factual kids’ show to feature compelling presenters who know how to keep viewers engaged. “It’s not enough for them to just be a presenter,” says Serious Lunch’s Dexter. “They are essentially key talent, as opposed to an emcee. That lends so much to the show.” She notes as an example Operation Ouch!’s twin hosts Chris and Xand van Tulleken, who are real-life doctors and are therefore able to bring real-world expertise to the table. “They’ll say, Oh, we know we can go to this research lab where they’re doing some amazing things with what low temperature does to the body, and then you can go on a location shoot and they can contribute so much. Plus, when they’re doing the experiments in the lab, they actually know how and are qualified to perform them.” Dexter continues: “The more daring you are in the way that you present, and the more anarchic you are about it, the better, because [kids are] so caught up in saying, Oh, this show is completely crazy. And while they’re ‘wow’-ing about, How can these guys be so crazy?, they’re not noticing that at the same time, they’re learning. Especially if they can really connect with the hosts; some hosts attract kids of
Naturally, the talent pool for children’s content has opened up to include online personalities. This can lead to success for a show so long as its web-based star is truly as wonderful as he or she seems in the digital space. But not all YouTube personalities with a kids’ following have squeaky-clean histories. Recently, Disney Channel parted ways with social-media star Jake Paul, who appeared on Bizaardvark, after reports surfaced that he was a nuisance to his neighbors. “Now that we’re getting hosts from the internet, it’s really important that we vet them very, very well to make sure that they actually are as great as they appear on YouTube,” says Portfolio’s Rosen. “They all have pasts, so we do a lot of vetting of their history to make sure that they really are as wholesome as they present. We look for big personalities, we look for a sense of humor and we look for a great way to engage people very quickly.” Portfolio’s Do You Know? is hosted by internet influencer Maddie Moate. “Maddie Moate works so well with Do You Know? because she’s already achieved that success online, so she was pretty vetted by that point,” says Rosen. “Once Do You Know? was produced, we were able to have her promote the show on her YouTube channel and on her Twitter and Facebook and all of that, so it’s a really great cross-promotional opportunity.”
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Beyond Distribution’s History Hunters features kids engaging in challenges and experiments as they learn about the past.
In addition to having interesting subject matter led by compelling and clean-cut hosts, another beneficial characteristic of a live-action factual kids’ show is its ability to be co-viewed by parents who can actually feel like they’re also being entertained when sitting in front of the TV set with their little ones.
SHARED EXPERIENCES “Broadcasters across the board are always on the lookout for good-quality, live-action factual content, particularly those shows that kids and adults can enjoy watching together,” says ACTF’s Hegarty. “I don’t think [broadcasters’] main aim is promoting coviewing, but if it happens with a program then that is great luck,” notes Beyond’s Kanna-Konsek. “Edutainment programs are generally co-viewing opportunities.” “Co-viewing is something that can happen on weekend slots, especially in the morning or in the afternoon,” says Xilam’s du Pontavice. “That’s typically when mom, dad and kids can watch together.”
Fischer at WDRmg adds, “Even though [Maus] primarily addresses children aged 5 to 9, watching it together every Sunday morning has become a tradition for many families [in Germany since the 1970s].” According to Fischer, kids’ factual shows are generally geared more toward an older-skewing demographic, due to their educational nature. “Factual programs may take up topics that are too complex for very young viewers to understand,” she says. “That is why most of them resonate best with slightly older children or young teenagers. However, our catalog includes a Maus spin-off called Elefantastic that is specifically designed for preschoolers. Its documentary components focus on everyday phenomena, such as watching a fly’s wing in super slow-motion or seeing ice melt in high-speed time-lapse, which is fascinating—even for a very young audience.” Serious Lunch’s Dexter sees the bulk of live-action factual properties falling into the “bridge” category, “but I think that where kids play kind of gets less important. As thematic channels give way to [online] players and catch-up, you find that children’s viewing is really changing, in that the 5-year-olds are watching Danger Mouse— which is on CBBC—and the 14-year-olds are watching Teletubbies because they think it’s funny.” “We produce or acquire properties for traditional age groups—preschool, 6 to 12, etc.—but there will be times when one group seeps into the other,” adds Beyond’s Kanna-Konsek. “We need to be careful not to dumb things down, as kids are always much more clever than some may think!” While they may not be watching the evening news, kids are smart and have a sense of what is going on around them, so
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content beyond the small screen, and can also go deeper into the educational aspect of a show. “I think everybody expects to have them,” says Serious Lunch’s Dexter. “The mobile game Snot Apocalypse has been very successful on Operation Ouch!, and then there are also interactive episodes—one’s called ‘Poo’ and the other one ‘Wee.’ Despite having silly names, they are great and if you’re into the show, it’s another way of testing your knowledge.”
Wanting to fill a gap in the market, Xilam developed If I Were an Animal..., a wildlife show for kids.
many distributors are looking to take on shows that tackle pressing current issues. “We look out for programs that are relevant for kids all over the world,” says WDRmg’s Fischer. “There is an increasing number of shows that aim to raise awareness about environmental issues or political situations that influence the world on a greater scale.” The downside to such shows, however, is that they age quickly. “We tend to stick with programs that will have a long shelf life, and try not to address areas where it will date a program,” notes Beyond’s Kanna-Konsek. As is the case with other types of children’s programming, nonlinear extensions, including interactive apps and websites, help satiate kids’ appetites for live-action factual
“Generally, interactivity is a great way to raise kids’ involvement and help them build an emotional connection to a program,” notes Fischer. “It may be a vital factor in a program’s success. However, not every program is designed in a way that an app or a website can contribute something valuable to it. Online extensions need to be authentic and feel natural to the concept of the show.” “When it comes to linear television, or even video-ondemand exploitation of those programs…you can only have a very limited educational aspect,” adds Xilam’s du Pontavice. “[Nonlinear extensions] give kids who loved a certain episode the opportunity to go to the app and learn more about it. So it’s very complementary. You have the show itself, which is mostly entertaining and somewhat educational, and then with the apps, you can explore the educational parts more.” If all goes according to plan, live-action factual fare and corresponding nonlinear extensions will continue to help parents sneak healthy “peas” of knowledge into their kids’ media diets, which will hopefully result in an even more educated generation of adults.
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Since its launch in 1997, British free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 has made children’s programming a priority with its Milkshake! block. Combining high-energy presenters, beloved originals such as Peppa Pig and select acquisitions, Milkshake! has endeared itself to preschoolers and parents alike. As the head of children’s at Channel 5, Sarah Muller is tasked with continuing Milkshake!’s winning streak while navigating the constantly evolving kids’ media landscape. Since joining Channel 5 last year following a long career at CBBC, Muller has led a rebrand and refresh of Milkshake!, stepped up its digital presence and is collaborating with her colleagues at fellow Viacom-owned outfit Nickelodeon. She tells TV Kids about her programming remit and By Mansha Daswani her focus on engaging with audiences on multiple platforms. 308 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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FEATURE 4 HOT BRANDS Ahead of BLE, leading brand owners weigh in on their successful strategies for landing, and keeping, valuable shelf space in an ultra-competitive marketplace.
I don’t have a child of my own yet, but I do have an endearing 7-year-old cousin named Pia and an adorable nephew, Aidan, who’s nearly 7 months old. As the holiday season approaches, I’m starting to ponder what gifts to get for the lovable little ones in my life. Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Anna Carugati Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Executive Editor Joanna Padovano Tong Managing Editor Sara Alessi Associate Editor Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Simon Weaver Online Director Dana Mattison Senior Sales & Marketing Manager Nathalia Lopez Sales & Marketing Assistant Andrea Moreno Business Affairs Manager
Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Kids © 2017 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tvkids.ws
For Pia, an intelligent young girl who knows what she likes and dislikes (although that can, of course, change on a whim), my first idea for a present is always some type of product based on her favorite brands. But since Aidan is still contemplating whether he prefers carrots to sweet potatoes and how he feels about his grandpa’s mustache, he hasn’t had enough time to pinpoint his number one property just yet. So what’s an aunt to do? For now, until he has formed his own little opinions, I (selfishly) plan to buy him all sorts of merchandise featuring the characters I loved as a kid, including Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang. I’m also thinking about what my sister used to like when we were growing up. She enjoyed DuckTales, which recently returned as a reboot, so perhaps I’ll pick up a cute baby onesie donning Scrooge McDuck or some Huey, Dewey and Louie plush dolls. For many, many years, adult consumers around the world have been purchasing products for children based on their beloved brands. In fact, several big hits from back when we grown-ups were younger are still going strong today. Pokémon, Barbie and Batman—which have been around for decades—were among the top ten global toy properties from January to June 2017, according to research released by The NPD Group over the summer. The report also found that worldwide toy sales were up 3 percent in that time period, and estimated that the industry will increase by around 4 percent for the full year. That’s encouraging news for the 7,500-plus retailers, licensees and sales executives hoping to conduct business at Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) in London from October 10 to 12. In this issue, we hear from rights owners who share their strategies for securing and holding on to precious shelf space at retail. We also have interviews with Allen Bohbot, the founder and managing director of 41 Entertainment, and Hahn Film’s Gerhard Hahn, creator of Mia and me. —Joanna Padovano Tong
INTERVIEWS 12 41 Entertainment’s Allen Bohbot
14 Mia and me’s Gerhard Hahn
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Plush for Mercisâ€™s Miffy.
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Ahead of BLE, rights owners share their strategies for securing, and keeping, precious shelf space at retail. By Sara Alessi he sale of licensed goods and services continues to be very big business, with revenues reaching $262.9 billion globally in 2016. That number, from the Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey conducted by the licensing industry trade body LIMA, reflects a 4.4-percent rise on the previous year. Entertainment and character licensing dominate the global business, bringing in almost half of worldwide revenues. That $118.3-billion slice of the licensing market is what brand owners are eyeing as they look to deliver apparel, toys, books and more based on the characters that kids have fallen in love with through the TV screen.
POWER PLAYERS So what does it take to make that connection with the viewer that will then translate into retail opportunities? In the case of the mega-hit Power Rangers franchise, which marks its 25th anniversary next year, kids are eager to masquerade as their favorite ranger. “You can look like what you see on TV,” says Frederic Soulié, the executive VP of global distribution and consumer products for Saban Brands, on the importance of the role-play and costumes categories. “Even the toys, including the morphers, look exactly like what you see on the screen, so that gives Power Rangers an edge.” Moreover, the brand has something for everyone, he explains, because there are five rangers, reflecting a range of ethnic backgrounds, and each sporting a different color costume. “That is the secret sauce that makes Power Rangers accessible,” Soulié observes. The same could be said for the younger-skewing Sesame Street. “Everyone has their favorite character
who they can relate to in their own special, personal way,” says Risa Greenbaum, the assistant VP of international media business, Europe, at Sesame Workshop. “Because we have such a large roster of characters, and they all come in different sizes, shapes, colors and personalities, they continue to lend themselves very well to a wide range of categories.” Indeed, the Sesame Street brand is flourishing. “Even though we have many of the typical preschool categories locked in, we continue to get interest from additional apparel partners,” she says. “We’re looking at growing our homewares and accessories programs. We have our plush partners in place, and now we want to look at extending the toy range in other areas.” Ancillary toys, in particular, will be a big push at BLE, “whether it’s figurines and playsets, games, puzzles or bath toys,” Greenbaum says. She adds that Sesame Workshop, which has traditionally had global toy deals, has recently made headway with regional partners across Europe. Even tried-and-tested brands must find new avenues to reach shoppers and continue to make noise in the consumer-products space.
NEW ARSENAL In the case of Power Rangers, the show features a new theme every two years along with a new cast and setting. “With that comes a brand-new set of toys on the licensing side,” Soulié says. “Everything is different, from the weapons they use to the tools, vehicles and Zords.” The Japanese brand BEYBLADE uses a similar strategy. “BEYBLADE has a newness each time it launches,” says Natasha Khavin Gross, the director of TV sales, marketing and licensing at New York-based SUNRIGHTS, which manages the property in Western markets. “With each reboot [of the series], there is a new storyline with fresh characters and adventures,”
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Gross says, and that carries over to the toys as well. For example, Hasbro’s line of spinning tops features “a new way to win wherein a player can defeat their opponent by essentially ‘bursting’ their opponent’s spinning top,” which is a big draw for young fans, Gross says. Key categories for the brand include apparel, party goods, games, puzzles, sleepwear, bedding and publishing.
KEEP IT FRESH Jennifer Coleman, 4K Media’s VP of marketing and licensing, says that “finding new partners to work with in different ways” is critical to rejuvenating the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand. “We Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty is one of the new brands that Saban is showcasing. look for different ways to bring the looking at innovative ways of working with retailers, merchandise to our fans and create a broader fan base.” including doing exclusive products or windows.” It’s also about guiding those partners. “Knowing the Saban’s Soulié concurs, noting, “What you often see brand as well as we do, we can steer [retailers] in the these days is a revolving door of entertainment right direction in terms of what we think the fans want,” brands based on movies coming and going at retail.” Coleman explains. She says some partners are even going The closure of brick-and-mortar stores is also partly as far as hiring fans of properties like Yu-Gi-Oh! who can responsible for the challenge of getting items on shelves. speak to the types of products that might capture con“The whole retail environment is difficult,” says Marja sumers’ attention, and purchasing power. Kerkhof, the managing director at Mercis, which hanBut no matter how innovative the property or product dles the Miffy brand. “Online sales are great and growing is, retail is not an easy game, even for evergreen brands. rapidly, but they are not yet making up for what we are “Competition is always a challenge,” says Sesame’s losing in stores. That’s a threat at the moment for every Greenbaum. “We’re all going after the same limited property and business. There’s a lot of fragmentation, and amount of shelf space. These days you have to be a little the big retailers don’t seem to have yet found the answer bit more creative when you’re looking at retail and try to the trend toward internet sales.” to figure out a match that works for both partners. We’re
Genius Brands has been signing up licensees for its new preschool property Rainbow Rangers in categories such as apparel.
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The challenging environment means licensors must, at times, make difficult decisions when dealing with retailers. “Sometimes you have to give someone an exclusive or make special designs,” Kerkhof notes. “We can’t be greedy. It’s very much a matter of cultivating a good relationship with a retailer, appreciating them and being loyal to them,” rather than trying to get products into every store.
Monopoly prepared a special edition of its beloved board game based on 4K’s Yu-Gi-Oh!
“The biggest thing retailers want is differentiation,” says Lloyd Mintz, the senior VP of global consumer products at Genius Brands International. “Our biggest challenge day in and day out is finding room in between the industry giants. It is our job to identify white space in the market and fill that vacuum with great Genius Brands content.” Saban’s Soulié reflects a similar view when he says, “What we do with any of our brands is try to customize the experience for retailers as much as we can.” For example, when the feature film Saban’s Power Rangers was released by Lionsgate on Blu-ray and DVD, there were different versions of the product, including some with bonus features, depending on whether it was purchased at Target or Walmart. “There’s an incentive for the retailer to work with you if you’re offering them something a bit different,” he says. Sesame’s Greenbaum believes that a successful retail strategy involves “looking at your brand and trying to figure out what you can do to pull something special from each of the characters and create some dynamic product that will resonate.” It’s not an easy task, she continues, because “the product needs to not only look great but be innovative as well. Everybody can do a plush, but do you have a
Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street continues to draw new licensing partners. plush that does something different and that a child can relate to in a different way? Retailers need to know their consumers will connect with a product.”
SPECIAL EDITION It also helps to give consumers themselves something special. “Yu-Gi-Oh! is still not out there in a huge way at retail,” 4K’s Coleman says, so when fans see someone with Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise, they clamor to find it. “It’s a bit of an insider thing, and fans feel like they are part of an elite, tight-knit circle,” which helps drive sales. In some cases, it can be beneficial to think about licensing and merchandising right from the get-go. “For all of our shows, from day one, we think about how we allow consumers to relive and recreate their favorite aspects of the show at home in their own rooms or with their family and best friends,” Genius Brands’ Mintz says. “With Rainbow Rangers, we thought, What is a vehicle that a 4-year-old girl can ride? She can ride a scooter, so we put the rangers on scooters because that’s a great way for little girls to reimagine that brand franchise.” SUNRIGHTS’ Gross says that in this competitive environment, retailers are “narrowing their programs” and looking for “hot brands, but also robust programs with merchandise across multiple categories that can be handpicked. It’s quite challenging, but the best way to appeal to the retailer is to let your hot items like toys lead the race and slowly layer in other categories until the brand is a proven success.”
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She adds: “The key is timing and striking when the iron is hot. There is such a delicate balance in getting product out at the right time to hit peak demand. Nowadays, a retailer has to ask for a brand before a licensee approaches a brand for a license.”
Toys, party goods, apparel and more are featured in the product mix based on SUNRIGHTS’ BEYBLADE BURST.
A silver lining related to the fact that retailers are not necessarily “buying big” is that some are taking a long-term approach and “buying smart,” 4K’s Coleman says. “They’re testing products and making sure that the designs are working. If they’re not working, they’re not simply walking away from a property. Retailers are asking why not and what else should be featured in the product instead. They know that if they find the right mix, it’s going to resonate with fans and reach consumers.” But the physical shelves are shrinking, which makes the new wave of opportunities in the online world all the more enticing. “Prior to five years ago, there was virtually no app business, so the digital industry was essentially video games,” says Genius Brands’ Mintz. The development of apps now means companies can “monetize a digital fingerprint beyond video games.” Gaming is a category that Saban Brands is “getting a lot more serious about,” notes Soulié. The company recently launched a new mobile game tied to the release of the latest Power Rangers feature film. 4K’s Coleman is finding that mobile gaming is a great way to bring in a new generation of Yu-Gi-Oh! fans, as
well as to draw old fans back into the trading card game. “You can’t necessarily take trading cards in your pocket and play wherever you want, so these mobile apps are vital to engagement with the brand. We’re seeing a number of lapsed players come back into the game because they can easily play digitally on their phones as they commute, for example.” Coleman also sees mobile games as a means of attracting new fans who can get hooked on the digital game before they invest in the trading cards and participate in in-person tournaments. The BEYBLADE BURST “app mimics physical play [of the spinning tops], and it is exciting for kids to share the experience of battle with their friends,” says SUNRIGHTS’ Gross. The company is also pursuing digital game apps for casual fans of the brand.
APP-TASTIC Classic brands like Miffy are getting into the digital space as well, with an app that allows kids to read stories and play games. Meanwhile, Sesame Workshop is riding the Snapchat craze, having already launched a Big Bird Snapchat filter in the U.S., with plans to do more with the company later this year. “In Asia, in particular, we’ve got some great new filters from Snow,” Greenbaum says, referring to Snapchat’s Asian rival. “We’ve already seen success with that, with more than 6 million downloads for Elmo and Cookie Monster filters combined in Asia.” In seeking success in retail, it also helps to widen your target base. “We know our audience and consumers pretty well,” says Saban’s Soulié. “We can tailor the experience by targeting different segments, from the little kids between 4 and 8 watching the show on Nickelodeon in the U.S. or other channels worldwide to an older audience that is looking for collectible items.” In the case of Saban’s new property Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty, “I can see T-shirts featuring the kitty as a cool fashion statement for older kids, stemming from a cultural obsession with unicorns and memes being exchanged on the internet,” Soulié says. “We’re trying to capture that trend.” Mercis’s Kerkhof has noticed a similar pattern with Miffy. She says that in addition to preschoolers who love the books and TV series, Miffy has “a following of people who like design and graphic design.” Reaching consumers is the name of the game, and rights owners are poised to find—and entice—them wherever they may be.
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animation and expertise in managing a Netflix original. We understood the specs and were very excited to work with them on this major brand. We’ll be acting as exclusive global sales agent for pay TV, free TV, home entertainment and electronic sellthrough (not SVOD, obviously). We will officially launch the property at MIPCOM 2017 with screenings at MIPJunior. The show is a pure comedy, brilliantly written by Eric Rogers, with a great voice cast— including Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale, Jonathan Banks and Susan Sarandon—and a $1-million-per-episode production budget! The show is already dubbed in 25 languages and we believe the property will be well received by the market. TV KIDS: You worked with Netflix on Tarzan and Jane and Kong: King of the Apes. What has that experience been like? BOHBOT: It’s been great. Netflix is a great partner. We launched Kong in 2016 and then Tarzan and Jane in 2017, both as originals, and both have been picked up by Netflix for second seasons.
By Mansha Daswani
In 2011, Activision Blizzard released its first Skylanders video game. Fusing console gaming with physical toys, the property has been a breakout success, notching up more than $3 billion in revenues. With that kind of brand awareness, it’s no wonder Activision wanted to extend the franchise further, setting up an in-house studio and producing the CGI-animated series Skylanders Academy, which subsequently landed on Netflix. Renewed for a third season, the show is being offered outside of the Netflix window by 41 Entertainment. Allen Bohbot, managing director of 41 Entertainment, tells TV Kids about taking on the show and the other brand-centric properties in his expanding portfolio. TV KIDS: How did the deal for Skylanders Academy come about? BOHBOT: Skylanders is a property created by Activision Blizzard, the large video game company. It was released about six years ago with new technology that quickly became a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. In 2016, Activision Blizzard Studios launched Skylanders Academy as a Netflix original; season one achieved instant success and two additional seasons were commissioned. Activision Blizzard Studios was looking for a distribution partner with experience in global
Our relationship also led to Super Monsters, another Netflix original, which takes place at Pitchfork Pines Preschool, where the children of the world’s famous (and not-so-famous) monsters come to learn how to be the best people, and the best monsters, they can be. Drac, Cleo, Lobo, Katya, Zoe and Frankie are preschoolers with dual identities—they’re humans in the day and monsters after dark. That’s why this preschool starts each day at the end of the day. It’s adorable! So, we have three Netflix originals to date. TV KIDS: What other new shows do you currently have in the works? BOHBOT: We have two totally new and cool properties. Shooting Star is the story of a 13-year-old girl, Piper, struck by a sentient star while playing soccer with her friends. Her life is changed forever as she is unwittingly transformed into the superhero Shooting Star. Set in New York City, this battle of good versus evil is juxtaposed against the roller-coaster ride of adolescence as Piper has to balance her life as a junior high school student with being the hero destined to save the world—and from the “mean girls” in her school. It’s an action comedy created by the former
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chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad, and masterfully written by Skylanders’ Eric Rogers and Josh Haber. The Mini Musketeers follows the adventures of 6-year-olds D’artanya, Athos, Aramis and Portia years before they become the most famous heroes in all of France as the elite fighting force from which the French King Louis XIII will create the legendary Mousquetaires de la Garde. But Louis isn’t the king quite yet—when we first meet him, the young prince is a timid little 6-year-old. It’s hard to imagine how he will ever become brave enough, wise enough and confident enough to rule one of the largest empires in the world. Louis is isolated because of his position, doted on by his parents, coddled by the courtiers, spoiled by the palace staff and secretly tormented by a jealous 7-year-old named Millie, who pretends to be so sweet and nice. The pampered prince is about to get the one thing he truly needs: a group of friends to call his own. TV KIDS: How essential is that kind of diversity for thriving in today’s competitive kids’ landscape? BOHBOT: We believe that it is important to have variety and breadth as a major independent in the kids’ and family space. Some of our competitors focus on preschool, others on comedy, etc. We wanted to have a full bouquet of quality animation for all age
targets. We feel that story creation and script writing are best done in the U.S.—it is really the strength of the American market. On the other hand, quality animation is now available worldwide, so we choose production partners worldwide. Our product is all CG and at the higher end of the market. It’s a mini-studio concept. That’s where we think we’re going to be more successful. For 2017, we are thrilled with this strong multi-genre, multi-season lineup of properties that we are bringing to MIPCOM. We feel that each title is high-quality CG animation and each is in different stages of completion: one is completely produced, four are in production, and two are ready to begin production early next year. With many instantly recognizable brands and genres covering multiple needs— comedy, boys’ action, girls’ action, as well as preschool—our titles are attractive to a global linear and nonlinear marketplace. And, of course, we have the classic PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures.
Skylanders Academy is being rolled out by 41 Entertainment this MIPCOM.
TV KIDS: Are you already exploring L&M opportunities on your new shows? BOHBOT: It depends on the property. PAC-MAN has 170 licensees and 2,000 SKUs worldwide. Kong, Tarzan and Jane and Super Monsters are just launching. Shooting Star and The Mini Musketeers are totally new. It’s case by case.
41 Entertainment’s new Netflix original Shooting Star focuses on a teenage superhero.
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Nesch’et came up with his own ideas. However, this process was a rather tenacious struggle and quite emotional, especially when our ideas differed. While looking for a distinct style, the idea came up to integrate certain patterns used by Gustav Klimt in his paintings into the design of the robes of the King and Queen, the unicorns and the antagonists. Klimt’s transitional artistic style strikingly unites the heterogeneous content elements of Mia and me in a particularly subtle manner. But developing a look is always a balancing act: it’s about achieving a maximum of originality, individuality and distinctiveness, and about compromising with co-producers and complying with the need to produce for an international market. Following the advice of our co-producers Iginio Straffi [CEO of Rainbow] and Ulli Stoef, I changed the art direction at the last minute and poured a bucket of pinkand rose-colored paint over the artwork. Nesch’et and I were not happy about this development, but looking at the success of the series, I must admit, these marketing professionals know what they are doing!
MIA AND ME By Mansha Daswani
For almost four decades Gerhard Hahn has been making European animated series that have resonated with kids and families at home and abroad. Based in Berlin, Hahn Film is behind a wealth of shows, among them Mia and me, developed with and sold by m4e (which is majority owned by Studio 100). Hahn tells TV Kids about the genesis of the series and his process for developing content that meets the entertainment needs of young ones today.
TV KIDS: What inspired Mia and me? HAHN: In early 2009, I was introduced to Hans Ulrich Stoef [the CEO of] m4e, who had the idea that we join forces and create brands for kid audiences. He was looking for an attractive TV series for girls and suggested producing one about horses. Having already worked on a German horse-themed series for too long, I needed to put it behind me. An idea I was developing featuring a girl and a unicorn seemed the best direction to go in, and this was the key to Mia and me. On the one hand, we would create a world populated by elves and unicorns instead of horses; and on the other, we turned Mia, the heroine from the real world, into an elf when she visits Centopia. Also, Mia would be the only one in Centopia with the ability to understand the language of the unicorns. TV KIDS: How did you design the show’s look? HAHN: Mia and me was designed by my favorite character designer, Nesch’et Al-Zubaidi. On the basis of my vision for the general look and the character design,
TV KIDS: Why do you think Mia and me has been such a massive global hit? HAHN: In addition to its distinctive and original look, the fact that Mia is a girl from the real world who also becomes an elf in Centopia in each episode led to an unusually high identification potential for younger viewers. We were fortunate that Nicole Keeb from ZDF realized this very quickly. That wasn’t something that could be taken for granted, as Mia and me is a combination of a live-action framework story in our world and 3D computer animation in Centopia. Such a hybrid was rare in European TV animated series at the time it was first broadcast. It was the favorable combination of the concept, the extraordinary design, as well as the marketing and distribution expertise of Ulli Stoef and his team at m4e, that led to this success. TV KIDS: How have you kept the show fresh and engaging every season? HAHN: Two components were essential for this: retaining the fundamental strength of the first season by having popular figures reappear, thus ensuring recognition, and always reintroducing new surprising characters, especially on the side of the bad guys, who present our heroes with new challenges every season. TV KIDS: What are the plans for the feature film? HAHN: Up until now, the series has left questions open concerning Mia’s backstory. The answers are being withheld to be able to tell them in an extremely emotional and tension-filled feature film: namely how and why the then 12-year-old heroine Mia came into possession of a magic stone and an oracle book, which enabled her transformation into a Centopian elf. In this respect, the film acts as a prequel to the series—but otherwise, it is a completely separate story.
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DreamWorks Animation’s Noddy Toyland Detective, featuring the iconic character created by Enid Blyton, is one of the most popular shows on Milkshake! TV KIDS: What’s the overall programming strategy you’ve put into place over the past year at Channel 5? MULLER: It’s been about taking a holistic view of what Milkshake! is and the needs of a modern audience, and getting everybody here and out in the wider world to think of it as a brand rather than a block on a linear channel. The programming has fallen in naturally behind that. We’re super lucky because we already have an enviable slate of great content to work with, titles like Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and Peppa Pig. Moving forward, I’m looking at how I can complement that. So largely the strategy is around contemporary, fresh content that will delight and surprise the audience, but that also will work across a number of platforms. TV KIDS: How has the transition been for you from publicservice broadcasting to commercial? MULLER: It’s been easier than I might have expected. In the end it’s all about great programming, and that’s what drives all of us. But what is interesting is that I do now have the flexibility to work with partners and producers in a slightly more commercially realistic way, which obviously the BBC is not free to do. So that is very exciting. But generally speaking, it’s all about the content for me, always was, always will be. TV KIDS: Being part of the Viacom family, how are you collaborating with your colleagues at Nickelodeon? MULLER: I’m very lucky, I sometimes feel like a gem within a crown! Nick and Channel 5 have always worked very successfully together. It’s a long and viable relationship dating right back to the first days of Peppa Pig. We’ve always sat naturally together. I get all the support of being part of Viacom. And there is the opportunity to develop synergies and work together [with Nickelodeon] on titles that might be of interest and to share and swap and inform. It’s a fabulous experience; I do feel blessed. TV KIDS: The U.K. has so many children’s services, linear and digital. What makes Channel 5’s offerings distinctive in that crowded environment? MULLER: Well, I would like to say we’re probably in a crowded environment of one because we are the only permanent children’s block with its own identity that sits on a national channel on a daily basis. So we’re already in a different place. We
forget, as media professionals, that not everybody has access to absolutely everything. The fact that you can reach children in all households, even if they are with carers or grandparents who might not have all the bells and whistles of access to all channels, is really important; I’m quite proud of that. That’s number one. And then the presenters, real people who give a personality to the content. It turns out that this is a brilliant way of engaging the audience. And because they are unique, it makes us feel unique. Only we and CBeebies are working in this way in the U.K. We’re offering our young audience a relationship, a friendship as it were, because there’s a very definite dialogue between the audience and the presenters in terms of sending in paintings, competitions, birthday cards, shout-outs, all of those kinds of things. It adds to the feeling that Milkshake! is in your front room with you and is part of your family. We’ve also got a uniquely British feel that not everyone else has the luxury of. And we’re careful now to make sure we’re everywhere children are. TV KIDS: Tell us about the brand refresh this summer. MULLER: We’re all incredibly proud of it. Milkshake! had looked the same for the best part of 20 years. We worked with some very talented designers. Here’s another left-field way that we are working with our friends at Nickelodeon. One of their in-house designers has worked with my team to deliver something truly magical that resonates with children and has future-proofed us for the coming years. We have a whole suite of assets now that take us across all of the places we have the ambition to be. [The refresh reflects] what is special at Milkshake!—the craft, the joining in, the feeling of sending your painting in and then seeing it on-screen. It has resonated with everybody. It has a lovely hand-drawn feel to it. It put children at the center, when in the past that was not necessarily the case—it was probably a ’90s approach, with our presenters dancing at the front. We’ve circled our wagons around our young audience. We’re really happy with how it’s gone. I’ve done all sorts of things where you refresh or you bring classics back, and the key is for no one to notice you’ve done it. No one has noticed we’ve done it! It couldn’t be more different, but no one has written in to complain about any aspect of it. That to me is more than 1,000 letters saying, you’ve done well. It’s the half a million letters we haven’t had from our audience complaining that we changed everything they loved! Isn’t that odd? It sounds counterintuitive, but
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and exciting titles to the audience, quickly—you know how long it takes to get something on-screen for commissions—we picked up a handful of shows, like Simon from GO-N International in France. We dropped him into the schedule to complement what else we were doing and it’s worked well from the getgo. I’m a big fan of a judicious acquisition. There’s some great content out there.
Milkshake! acquired the rights to the book-based series Simon from France’s GO-N.
that’s how you know, everyone has carried on loving it. We’re up year-on-year and month-on-month, quite emphatically so. TV KIDS: You mentioned Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. What other shows are driving viewing at present? MULLER: One of our top shows at the moment is Noddy Toyland Detective. There have been lots of iterations of Noddy—it’s a classic property in the U.K., possibly quite old fashioned, but the team at Universal and DreamWorks Animation have worked hard to turn out something modern and vibrant. The audience is responding well to that; it’s number one on most weeks. We’ve introduced Floogals, which is made in the U.K., and it’s doing very well. And then we have Digby Dragon, which is a very British show and a great example of how Nickelodeon and Channel 5 work together. TV KIDS: What are some of the new commissions you have in the pipeline? MULLER: We are commissioning further series of favorites like Noddy and Floogals. We have a character called Milkshake! Monkey, who is very, very popular with children. He is puppeteered by Helena Smee, who is just great. We’ve been looking for a while at how we might make more of Monkey. He features heavily in our short-form, but we’re aiming to make a live-action preschool comedy with him. We have a couple of other things that will be announced soon. And then it’s short-form. Short-form works in a number of ways for us. It helps us to fill the schedule in an engaging way, and it’s also now getting a second life on the website or on YouTube. Short-form for us is largely presenter-led. It’s them sharing their passions, it’s cookery inserts, how-to dances, songs—they’re a very musical, talented bunch. Things like that will absolutely form the backbone of the more exciting, bigger commissions that we’ll be making in a couple of months. TV KIDS: You said the channel has a very British feel. Is there room for foreign acquisitions on the schedule as well? MULLER: There are some very well-known international titles that we take via Nickelodeon. And then when we were looking at how to refresh the schedule and bring some new
TV KIDS: At MIPJunior last year you talked about how kids’ producers were still grappling with nonlinear storytelling and engagement. How is Milkshake! approaching the issue of digital content? MULLER: You know how strongly I felt about it! Some of that was based on the great research I’d seen, and understanding where young audiences were. We know that kids are early adopters. In the children’s sector, like it or not, we’ve got to get on and embrace some of those changes. Children are everywhere they can be and they demand and expect you to be there, and if you’re not they’ll move on to someone else. So I like to call the transmission block the shop front of Selfridges—you see lots of lovely things in the window, and they encourage you to come in and experience more of what’s on offer in the store. We’re looking for a second life for existing content, new complementary content and exclusive content for YouTube and the website. We’re also looking very carefully at what a curated social-media campaign looks like. Although small children aren’t on social media, their parents are. When you have very small children, if they love something you love it too and you want to be part of it and share it with other families and carers who think the same. So we’ve started to do more with our presenters and our content characters across Facebook and Instagram. It’s thinking about how all of those elements sit together. You’ve got to recalibrate your brain a little bit; everybody has to. Otherwise, these other equally important components will be treated as afterthoughts, and you cannot do that. It’s all got to be part of one constantly evolving, growing, supportive whole. TV KIDS: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the kids’ content sector in the U.K. at present? MULLER: The kids’ content production community in the U.K. is incredible, particularly at preschool. They’ve been responsible for some of the most abiding, most successful, most loved hits. So I’m in a great place. There’s no shortage of ideas and talent. The industry has always been creative in its approach to funding and finding ways of closing the gap on investment. That has not changed. It’s about looking at what the revenue streams are for the emerging platforms. And working out how to measure that success because we don’t have those metrics in place quite as well yet. This is not the first or last time that the children’s industry will be on the frontier of something special and new. I have complete confidence in them to tackle it, as they did when video, SVOD—all of the different things that were going to kill us all forever—first came on the scene. All they do is give you other options and make you stronger. So I’m broadly optimistic.
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TV KIDS: When Netflix decided to ramp up its kids’ content offering, what was the strategy behind the initial slate? YEATMAN: We started by working with preexisting IP that had some awareness. Being an ondemand service, kids, parents and families have to click and choose what they’re watching, so programs or characters that have some awareness are an advantage. That was part of the strategy behind our relationship with DreamWorks Animation, where we have series based on very big, very well-known IP from their movies, such as Dragons: Race to the Edge or The Adventures of Puss in Boots or All Hail King Julien. We also always try to work with the best-in-class, world-class creators, like Guillermo del Toro for Trollhunters, another show from DreamWorks, and Avi Arad, who produces Kong: King of the Apes for us.
By Mansha Daswani
Given the transformative impact that Netflix has had in the drama and documentary spheres, it’s no surprise that it’s doing the same in kids’ programming. The streaming giant wants every member of a subscribing home to have a favorite Netflix show. As such, it has been aligning with key talent in the U.S. and internationally to deliver high-end, innovative content for preschoolers and up. As director of global kids’ content, Andy Yeatman oversees a portfolio of licensed and originated programming. A keynote speaker at this MIPJunior, Yeatman tells TV Kids about his approach to catering to Netflix’s young audiences.
TV KIDS: With existing IP, how do you work with the producers to make sure that what made a property magical in the first place is retained, while also creating something fresh and relatable for a new generation of kids? YEATMAN: As you can imagine we’re constantly being presented with heritage or legacy properties to reinvent. We look for something that hasn’t been reimagined in a while, so it doesn’t feel like, oh, not another version of that. It’s been maybe a generation or so, or maybe it was never a TV series or movie before, it was a book or a video game. The Magic School Bus and Carmen Sandiego are two good examples. They haven’t been around for basically a generation. The next thing we look for is something that still feels relevant and cool. You talk to parents of your target demo and they fondly remember Carmen Sandiego. Depending on how old they are, it could be the video game, or millennials might remember the game show. Magic School Bus fits the same criteria. And, is there a reason to redo it? In the case of Carmen Sandiego, it’s an iconic character that people know, she’s a mysterious super-thief, but they don’t know that much about her. So the new version we’re working on is an
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same thing; they’re just packaged differently in time formats. We are excited about blurring the lines of what is a movie versus what is a series. TV KIDS: A lot of your original content initiatives have been focused on the U.S. Are you looking at working with creators in other markets as well? YEATMAN: To date, our original efforts have mostly come from English-speaking countries, not just the U.S.—we have many shows out of Australia, the U.K., Canada. We’ve done one international kids’ original, Las Leyendas out of Mexico, we call it Legend Quest in English, and we’re absolutely expanding. I’m speaking at MIPJunior, and we’ll be announcing some new international kids’ originals from other parts of the world.
Luna Petunia is a Netflix original developed by Saban Brands and Cirque du Soleil Media.
origin story. How did she become a world-famous superthief? Why is she a super-thief? And, why would you root for this thief? In the case of Magic School Bus, it’s not necessarily reimagining all the characters, it’s more that science has progressed a lot in the 25 years since the show was last on air. We thought it was time for this show to come back. The old show still holds up, still gets a lot of viewing on Netflix all over the world, it still resonates with kids and parents, but there were only so many episodes, so many lessons, and science has progressed a lot since then. Pluto was a planet when the original Magic School Bus was made. TV KIDS: Are you now seeing a greater willingness from creatives to experiment with formats beyond the traditional 11-minute or 22minute episode length? YEATMAN: We’re pushing hard for that. When you’ve spent your whole career producing content for a linear network that needs to have content in a certain format, it takes a little while to deprogram that. For us, content doesn’t have to be exactly 11 minutes or 22 minutes, the episodes can be a few minutes shorter or longer, depending on the story in that particular episode. But pushing even further than that, if you think about a movie or series on Netflix, they’re the
TV KIDS: Tell us about the thinking behind some of your programming stunts, like the New Year’s Eve Countdowns and releasing Trollhunters just before Christmas. YEATMAN: Recently we did some birthday videos for some of our shows. The characters from the shows sing “Happy Birthday.” It’s 2-minute videos. Unlike the New Year’s Eve Countdowns, these will stay up all year round. So when it’s your kid’s birthday, one of their favorite characters can wish them a happy birthday. We know that Netflix plays such an important role in the lives of a lot of families. We’re trying to use some shows to highlight some specific moments, and particularly to take advantage of what makes Netflix different.
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Netflix’s preschool property Llama Llama, from Genius Brands International, is based on a much-loved picture-book series. You can watch something on-demand wherever you are, at any time, so that was the beauty of the New Year’s Eve campaign. It could be New Year’s for your kid whenever you wanted it to be! The birthday videos are a little different. But birthdays are one of the things that kids all over the world celebrate, and they love having characters as part of their birthday parties, so this can help parents add to their kid’s birthday in a small way. TV KIDS: What are you doing in the interactive storytelling space? YEATMAN: We’re looking again at the things that make Netflix different. We’re an on-demand platform, so we’re inherently interactive. Viewers are constantly interacting with Netflix by choosing what to watch, stopping, starting, rewinding, fast-forwarding. And we wanted to use that functionality to be able to tell richer, more compelling, more engaging stories. So we started this year with two branching-narratives specials, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. They’re both based on existing Netflix original series. We’ll be expanding next year to do not only more specials but different types of formats. We don’t have anything specific to announce yet, but we will be expanding and doing more.
TV KIDS: Are there any particular things that you’re looking for? YEATMAN: We don’t have a specific brand box of what a Netflix show has to be. We’re trying to program for having something great for everyone. That means you have an incredibly diverse slate for the tastes of kids and families all over the world. That said, comedy always works well. That’s very important for us, whether it’s live action or animation. TV KIDS: I watch how my niece and nephew engage with content, and they’re always on Netflix, far more than on any linear network. Do you think the media habits of this generation will change, or will they always be streaming, on-demand viewers? YEATMAN: We believe that internet TV is only going to become bigger and be a bigger part of people’s entertainment lives. We also think there will be lots of internet-TV services with different types of offerings. The concept of choosing when, what, where [to watch] and not having advertising is a compelling formula. TV KIDS: What do you love most about your job? YEATMAN: I love the variety, the fact that we’re working with content creators from Argentina and India and Korea, that we’re working on live-action comedies and animated epic adventures like Trollhunters. Every day, every project is different. That’s what makes it so interesting.
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TV KIDS: Cartoon Network is marking a landmark birthday this year. Tell us about the anniversary theme of “25 Years of Drawing on Creativity.” MILLER: It’s a celebration of the past 25 years of, ultimately, connecting with our fans—that’s always at the center of everything we do—having a global mindset about how we’re doing it and then being creatively driven. Ted Turner would often refer to us as his second greatest idea—CNN was born first—and it was a little bit of a crazy idea. All of the firsts that have come out of Cartoon Network are great examples of how we think about things. We were the first 24/7 animation network. We were the first kids’ network to launch a website, let alone a video app or a watch-andplay app. We’ve been at the forefront and have rewritten the rules for 25 years. Keeping pace with that and always fulfilling the fact that we were this crazy idea is part of what’s in our DNA. Reflecting back on our 25-year mark, we’re proud that we’ve grown lifelong fans and that we’ve done it with creativity and innovation. And for the last 25 years, we’ve made people laugh. That’s a pretty big thing to accomplish! TV KIDS: What are the greatest challenges in targeting this mobile-first generation of Plurals. And what’s been most fun about programming for this demographic? MILLER: Each challenge brings an opportunity. We do look at the world like that. It is very fast moving. We all feel how dynamic it is in this marketplace—the rate of change, the
By Mansha Daswani
On October 1, 1992, Cartoon Network launched in the U.S. as the world’s first 24/7 all-animation channel. At the time, Turner Broadcasting had recently completed its acquisition of the Hanna-Barbera library, a slate of classic, timeless cartoons that would serve as the foundation of the new channel’s programming strategy. Speaking to The New York Times about the launch in 1992, Ted Turner was realistic about the challenges of mass reach for the new service in the capacity-challenged pay-TV world at the time, calling it a “long-term play.” Twenty-five years later, Cartoon Network is a well-entrenched brand across the globe, reaching 192 countries and more than 400 million homes. Thanks to the prolific output at Cartoon Network Studios and select acquisitions, the channel has found millions of fans with signature series like Ben 10, Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, We Bare Bears and more. And Cartoon Network is much more than a TV brand today, with a slew of apps that allow kids to engage with their favorite shows on phones and tablets, anytime and anywhere, while Cartoon Network Enterprises has been rolling out a range of merchandise inspired by the channel’s top original series. Christina Miller, the president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim, talks to TV Kids about maintaining her portfolio’s success and evolving with the ever-changing media habits of young audiences.
new platforms, the speed with which you’re able to connect with your audience. It’s very much a real-time world. It’s not a day, date and time; it’s not a moment in time, it’s all the time. So preparing for that and being aware of that is both an opportunity and a challenge. There’s not a moment when you go dark anymore. You have to have fresh content. It’s also a sharing generation, so you have to make sure you create a loop that allows them to be part of it, participate and celebrate with you. When you do that, they’ll evange lize for you. There’s nothing stronger than hearing it from a friend, and that’s true with the youngest of audiences. TV KIDS: And if they don’t like something, you’ll hear about that too. MILLER: They will tell you. It’s not a one-versus-many world anymore. It’s many coming back into that source. You talk about challenges and opportunities—the world is much more opensource now, and we’re IP creators, so how do you give enough of your brand, your IP, what your fans want from you, to them and turn it over to them while still managing it effectively? TV KIDS: How has the Ben 10 launch gone? Are there other classic properties you’re looking at resurrecting?
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Cartoon Network Studios produces OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, which began life as a short called Lakewood Plaza Turbo.
MILLER: The relaunch is going really, really well. It has been greeted with as much love the second time around. The truth of the matter is it’s a strong, successful, global brand that was still vibrant in different places in the world. It had never collectively gone away. What we did was push it back into the global mindset and rolled out fresh content that is of this moment, and we’re being rewarded for it. We see it in the ratings, we see it in the mobile game, we’re starting to see it in the consumer products, and we’re seeing that amplified market by market. We’re thrilled with it. With The Powerpuff Girls, the original, iconic, girl-power brand, it was the right time to reinvigorate it. The same with Ben 10. We took a step back and said, it’s still vibrant in some places, we should be committed to new content and new executions of this in a bigger way, and off we went. Those are two great examples of it. But it’s certainly not a formula or something we want to do unless the time is right. TV KIDS: You announced a lot of returning shows at your Upfront this year. What goes into keeping those series successful year after year? MILLER: For us, it’s really about being multiplatform by design and providing layered experiences. Some of those come out in that very first moment and some evolve. Take something like Mighty Magiswords, which over a period of time evolved by
platform and technology, whether it was 15-second, random, choose-your-ownadventure style gamified content or a more linear series that also took into account an overlay of that gamification through collectability and mobile games. Loosening that thread happens over multiple seasons. That’s part of the franchise planning that we’ve been doing—really looking at a blueprint and scaling the opportunity and the audience and the platform. Sometimes that’s over multiple seasons, and sometimes it’s very much, let’s press go out of the gate. Look at OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes—we co-developed the console games and the show from the word go. They were informing each other the entire time. They are a greater collective whole because of that. And if you’re a fan of that show, you’ll like that layered, immersive approach. We believe that we can continue to do that in new episodes and in rolling out more heroes, more content, more games. That one will radiate out, but at the core, it will always be this give-and-take between a video game and a series because that’s core to the storyline and the characters. TV KIDS: I was chatting with Mark Eyers from Turner Asia Pacific recently, and he mentioned the app that will recognize when you’re watching Magiswords and reward you with a particular sword. The number of components you have to manage on each show is pretty astonishing! MILLER: Thank you for noticing that! Think about that list of firsts: we are the first brand working with kids that has employed this ACR [automatic content recognition] technology. The thinking there is it’s a hub and you can collect them across everything. It doesn’t have to be collecting a sword specific to that series. You can collect a Cartoon Network-branded one after you watch the premiere of something. It’s a great way to have participation, it’s highly visual and it’s a connective tissue between platform and brand.
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Cartoon Network relaunched its classic brand Ben 10 last year to reach a new generation of kids.
TV KIDS: How are you using the apps and digital content to experiment with new ideas and incubate upcoming talent? MILLER: Cartoon Network Anything, which we launched in 2014, was all about that effort. Magiswords came out of that. It’s digital shorts, 15-second consumable content, some of it is brand new and some extensions of [existing shows]. We’re thinking about new ways to build brands. Mobile and shortform creative is as much about extending [brands as] it is about creating new ones. It’s really about rewarding the platform. It’s about visual storytelling and using the native tools and techniques available to us to create a more organic experience, and then seeing how people will share it across platforms, how they keep coming back to it, how they spend time with Cartoon Network video and where they’ll watch. It goes back always to the ethos of connecting and serving our fans. That’s at the core of everything we do; it’s what propels us forward every day. We know that that small device is in everybody’s hands all the time. How do we feed it in a fan-friendly way? TV KIDS: Let’s talk about Cartoon Network Studios. How are you fostering creativity there? MILLER: Some of it is that we’ve never lost our excitement to fulfill the vision of this being the crazy idea! It’s getting out of our adult brains and thinking about what our audience demands of us. It’s keeping that streak going of making them laugh, and giving them the tools to explore and express creativity. It’s thinking about the audience constantly, marrying that with platforms and, truthfully, being comfortable with the crazy ideas. The “let’s try this” mentality has brought us to where we are
today and that long list of firsts. We’re continuing to do that around VR, AR, mobile content, and looking at the collaboration between artists, designers, content and platforms, at how you can mix and move between those things and [develop] new muscles. With Adventure Time we were the first to come out with a game in VR. That was us thinking about storytelling and building worlds and layered experiences and what’s available to us today to make some of that storytelling different and easier than maybe what was available last year or five years ago. Animation is the perfect vehicle for all of this technology. It is always about exploring and expanding what is possible. We have the creative talent, that’s the starting point. You layer on the technology. Don’t do something for technology’s sake. Do it because it facilitates a greater experience, a greater world that we can build with storytelling and characters. And create something that is rewarding for that platform. What we don’t ever want to be doing is having content up and just pushing it out because we can. That’s not enough. We do pull ourselves from end to end here. By that I mean, whether it’s Boomerang, Cartoon Network or Adult Swim, we’re propelling ourselves forward, experimenting, trying new things, all in the vein of incredible storytelling, building characters and worlds, always keeping our fans at the center of what we do. TV KIDS: It’s been a few years since the Boomerang refresh. What lessons did you take out of that experience for managing and relaunching brands in this current environment? MILLER: It goes back to that core goal of, let’s enter the world with a global mindset. Cartoon Network and Boomerang are global brands. We positioned Boomerang as trusted, beloved, timeless, with multigenerational appeal to it, and pushed the characters that people know and love to the forefront. That takes us back to that franchise management, thinking and articulating our brand globally and being relevant. Just because something is timeless and beloved doesn’t mean that you don’t create new content for it. If you look at the three years since we rebranded and relaunched, we’ve moved through the system in a way that is indicative of this
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technology—there was no such thing as a cell phone [when the show first premiered]. One of the things we did was make Bubbles quite a proficient coder, knowing that coding and technology are parts of kids’ lives. It’s really about understanding the generation, understanding their habits and looking at macro trends. And then they will tell you what they think, so it’s about always actively listening to our audience.
Adventure Time started as a viral short and has gone on to become one of Cartoon Network’s biggest hits.
moment, not of a library of content. We rebranded globally, we put the characters everybody knows and loves forward, we created new content based on Tom and Jerry and ScoobyDoo and The Wizard of Oz and Wacky Races. We have maintained the relevance of those core brands and then here in the U.S. we also launched an SVOD service. So we’ve taken advantage of the moment, the beloved nature of those brands and the technology to reach our audience and to give them the keys to that library from end to end.
TV KIDS: How do you approach new technology and understand how to use it for your audience? MILLER: It’s one of those always-be-learning kind of things. And iterating. One of the great things that technology has brought us is the ability to iterate. You’re creating something over a long period of time, and then it gets delivered and goes on air. Technology allows you, in real time, to bring people in and collaborate, to think about how we’re telling stories, to think about what that technology will facilitate. We have an advisory board around technology. We try to interact with as many leaders in as many different spaces as possible to learn what’s out there that we can be applying to our content and our initiatives. Look at the way we developed OK K.O.! We partnered with a best-in-class console video-game provider who was going to bring us a different point of view and a different skill set that we were going to marry with what we know how to do: creating characters and animation, storytelling, bringing layered experiences and reaching the audience. So it’s really about blending the lines between creativity and technology, collaborating wide, and iterating.
TV KIDS: What kinds of research do you conduct to understand your viewers, and how do those analytics then inform your programming decisions? MILLER: Research, knowing our audience, is obviously core to what we’re doing all the time. We’ve done a fair amount of generational research. You’ve heard us often talk about Plurals; most people refer to them as Generation Z. We’re looking at what the generational differences are. The audience we serve is the first mobile generation. We’re looking TV KIDS: What are some of your upcoming programming at how our audience’s habits are changing, and what opporhighlights? tunities that reveals. We have lots of historical research MILLER: Summer Camp Island was a festival darling this last and ratings. Measurement is a bit of a hot button with me, year; it won a lot of awards. We’re super excited about that parand a challenge. We’re in this total consumption game, ticular short and what might come next for it. Steven Universe we’re seeing more time-shifted viewing, and we know is of the moment and accelerating. We did great things around we’ve led VOD consumption. We aggressively went after releasing the soundtrack, we have a console game coming, we that and now we’re in what looks like it will be the third did a music video. We’re looking at the ability to launch new straight year of growing that as a platform and a reach vehicle. shows in new ways, whether it’s mobile content, AR or VR. Looking at all of those things and trying to have insights becomes critical. Having a more macro approach has become important to us to look at how we’re delivering content, when we’re delivering it, where we’re delivering it, and then spending as much time as humanly possible with our fans and our audience to see what they’re responding to. And we’re taking a holistic view of the world as we push content out, whether that is something like Magiswords that offers the ability to collect and participate, or something like a Steven Universe or OK K.O.! You take each one of those and look at the insights and the timeline. You see why that show is on now and why it’s successful now. When we brought back Powerpuff Girls, one of the main differences there was Cartoon Network did a global deal with CAKE for the rights to My Knight and Me. 340 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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By Mansha Daswani tudio Ghibli is among the world’s most iconic animation studios. The home of legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who co-founded the outfit in the mid-1980s, Studio Ghibli has been behind some of history’s most critically acclaimed animated films, including the Oscar-winning Spirited Away. A revered institution, Studio Ghibli has even inspired a museum, in Tokyo, showcasing exhibits based on its films and a number of shorts. For almost three decades, Studio Ghibli, unlike so many animation houses in Japan, stayed solely within the feature-film space. It finally crossed into the television sphere, working with Polygon Pictures on Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter. The show had a successful run on NHK at home, landed a U.S. slot on Amazon Prime, notched up a host of sales courtesy of distributor Serious Lunch and won an International Emmy Kids Award for best kids’ animation in 2016. The series was directed by Goro Miyazaki, who had initially envisioned Ronja—which is based on a novel by Astrid Lindgren—as a feature film, “but that plan didn’t work out,” he says. “When I was asked to create a new TV series for kids, I thought it an excellent chance to finally create Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, a perfect work for kids that is really appropriate for NHK’s animated series for children.” The series features CGI characters against 2D hand-drawn backdrops in what Miyazaki calls the “ ‘toon look’ to match the characters appropriately to the style of the background art. We adopted this style because it is ideal for expressing the rich seasonal beauty of nature. Also, Japanese audiences like and are familiar with 2D animation.” Miyazaki also tapped into his love for landscaping and agriculture, which he had studied at university, initially reluctant to follow in his esteemed father’s footsteps. “Many scenes in Ronja were based on my experience as a landscape architect, including the forest scenes,” Miyazaki says. What drew him to the novel, meanwhile, was its crossgenerational appeal to parents and children; something he hopes the 26-episode series also has. The book, he notes, “describes what happens between parents and children as the children grow up. I first read it as an adult after I started making films.” Miyazaki’s first feature was also based on a literary property. Tales from Earthsea, released in 2006, was inspired by books in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series. Next came From Up on Polly Hill, based on a 1980 Japanese comic, with a script penned by his father. His experience directing films taught him that “you should never compromise on what you think is important, while you should also listen to the opinions of others.” On moving from film to television, Miyazaki says that while the length of the final product may be different, the “creative philosophy and approach are exactly the same.”
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Since its founding by Iginio Straffi in 1994, Rainbow has steadily crafted a reputation as an animation powerhouse, delivering hits like the long-running Winx Club franchise and the more recent Regal Academy to childrenâ€™s platforms across the globe. The studio has since expanded into live-action production, rolling out Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends, a tween series that began filming its third season this year. Live action is a critical growth area for the company, with Rainbow acquiring Iven S.p.A., the parent company of Italian producer Colorado Film. Straffi tells TV Kids about the importance of that move and his plans for By Mansha Daswani further expanding Rainbowâ€™s business worldwide. 344 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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TV KIDS: What are some of the new projects you’re working on at Rainbow? STRAFFI: Besides the sequels of our successful franchises, like Winx Club season eight or Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends season three, we are going to launch a new preschool show at MIPCOM called 44 Cats, and we are working on another live-action show, which is a little more boy oriented. At the same time, we recently announced the acquisition of another famous and prestigious Italian company, Colorado. They have a series of movies and live-action shows in the pipeline, including a thriller, The Girl in the Fog, based on a successful novel by Donato Carrisi. We also have many other liveaction series in development. TV KIDS: You first moved into live action with Maggie & Bianca. What did you learn from that experience that you can now bring to the new live-action productions you’re working on? STRAFFI: We learned that it’s a totally different job. There is a common [element with animation]—the story, the entertainment value of the story. You need to have a great idea, a great story. Of course, the execution of live action is different. We are making use of the best talent that we can come across. We now have also acquired Colorado to have good, strong, internal know-how. I say this as a joke, but it’s true—while I’m aging I am getting more impatient to see my ideas come to life! I don’t have the patience to wait three or four years like for an animated project. Seven years for Regal Academy! But with live action, you think of something and a year later you see it on television. That is something I enjoy. TV KIDS: Why did Regal Academy take seven years to produce? STRAFFI: We were all extremely concerned, after creating Winx Club and co-producing Mia and me, that the next show targeting a similar demographic would not be as outstanding. We kept experimenting, trying to find better storytelling, better animation and a better graphic style. It was a long process before we greenlit it. I am very enthusiastic about the second season. We improved the graphic quality of the rendering and the pace of the storytelling. I like it much better than the first season. It took a very long time! Add two years for the second season, and it’ll be nine years to get what I was hoping to see. TV KIDS: Winx Club has done so well. What did that experience teach you about keeping shows fresh season after season? STRAFFI: We understood that even if you have the same elements and the same characters, you can’t tell the same story and keep repeating yourself with the same villains or the same situations over and over. With Winx, we tried to be very original in every season. The first [was innovative for having closed-ended] episodes but with a big story arc that wasn’t completed with the first 26. And then in the second, we added new elements to the big story arc, and we introduced the Pixies, the little friends of the Winx. In the third season, the story arc reveals many secrets, and there was a charming bad guy with his own evil plans. For the fourth we brought them to Earth on an undercover mission to save our planet. In the fifth, they had to save the oceans. The Winx saga has been so rich but also so new and original. We have to keep reinventing every season almost like it’s a brand-new series. We try to implement this know-how in all of our new productions.
Rainbow has built up a stable of returning brands, including, from the top, Winx Club, which is heading into season eight, Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends and Regal Academy.
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Preschool is a major growth area for Rainbow, which is bringing the brandnew series 44 Cats to MIPCOM.
TV KIDS: You worked with Netflix on Winx Club. How much have the OTT platforms changed how you do business? STRAFFI: We are trying to measure the influence of the new platforms on consumer products. So far we have found that they’re not very effective. For that part of the business we are a little bit concerned, with kids tuning in more and more to Netflix and other mediums, that it won’t be a big driver of consumer products. On the other hand, the OTT platforms have partially offset the big losses in DVD sales and other ancillary rights. They helped us to recover some of these revenues, which would have been lost. My point with this new viewing by kids is, if you have a brand, you are in good shape, but it’s more and more difficult to launch brands with these new platforms. TV KIDS: Tell us about your acquisitions of Colorado Film in Italy and Bardel in Canada. What did they bring to Rainbow? STRAFFI: They add something to our business model and pipeline of production. That’s very important. Both Bardel and Colorado brought something more to our group. In animation production, we can complete the whole process from writing to the final outcome. We can control every phase of the production in house. And [Colorado allows us to] expand our business in live action and expand our target group, because it is specialized in young adults. It’s [complementary to] what we are doing with tweens now with Maggie & Bianca. Of course, we’re also interested to look at companies that have good intellectual properties, good brands, good characters to revamp or relaunch or to help grow, which can be easily plugged into our system and become bigger and more famous. TV KIDS: In this current retail environment, what is needed for a brand to get the attention of licensees? STRAFFI: It is very important to be on a good outlet. It can be free TV or it can be a digital platform, but it is extremely important to be very visible. At the same time, the retail presence also helps the brand awareness. So both complement each other.
What is more difficult is convincing the retailer, when you’re not on a major network, to invest in giving you space. This may be even more difficult in the future for many independent producers. The new platforms are not necessarily giving you enough brand awareness and exposure. And traditional networks, free TV and so on, are losing viewers, so they are not able to deliver what they could ten years ago or even five years ago. The next challenge will be finding the best mixed-media marketing strategy to get a significant presence on shelves. TV KIDS: What are the biggest challenges of being an independent today? And what are the greatest benefits? STRAFFI: Being an independent brings you more challenges because you have to build everything from scratch—find the series, pitch it, get the broadcaster, get the licensee to believe in it. It is a tremendous effort. The advantage we have is the speed and the dynamic way of handling the decision process. TV KIDS: How are you balancing being a creator and animator while also running what has become a large production and distribution group? STRAFFI: It is getting more and more difficult. Luckily I have very good people who are working with me and there’s a good number of them who can now help me in different areas, from managing the group companies to judging a project and finding the strengths and the weaknesses of something that we are trying to create. Of course, I’m still very involved in every aspect of our business and our creations. TV KIDS: What are some of your goals for the company over the next year? STRAFFI: Our main goals are growing our pipeline of products, scaling down to preschoolers for animation and growing up to young adults for live action. And we’re working hard to expand in other markets where our business is still limited. And last but not least, we are in the process of finalizing the script for a major animated movie that we want to produce in the next couple of years.
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As the CEO of Zodiak Kids, Jean-Philippe Randisi oversees production operations in the U.K. and France and a distribution division that places in-house IP, as well as select third-party fare, on platforms across the globe. Zodiak Kids is home to a broad and diverse slate, encompassing the live-action comedy Secret Life of Boys, the CGI preschool property Lilybuds, the superhero show Kody Kapow and more. Randisi tells TV Kids about the strategy at Zodiak Kids and shares his views on trends in the childrenâ€™s programming space. By Mansha Daswani 348 WORLD SCREEN 10/17
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TV KIDS: How is the commissioning landscape in the territories where Zodiak Kids Studios is active? RANDISI: If you look at it purely at the French or U.K. level, it’s not drastically changing. On one side, a lot of the commissioning money is still coming from public broadcasters, whether it’s BBC or France Télévisions. Those two broadcasters have a tremendous impact in terms of feeding the industry with commissions. There’s been a tighter approach to spending money from commercial broadcasters in the U.K. With the appointment of Sarah Muller at Milkshake!, there is a more upbeat sound bite coming from Channel 5, but it’s still early days. ITV is still keeping a very tight approach to commissions. They do just a few. In France, alongside France Télévisions, TF1 is still developing its pipeline of commissions, and Lagardère Active as well. And on a lesser level M6 and Canal+. On the animation side, about 70 percent of the television commissioning money in France is coming from France Télévisions. From a consumer standpoint and a ratings point of view, part of the audience is now watching SVOD services, but the commissioning process for the big SVOD players is still really centered on the U.S., there’s not much yet in Europe. Disney has been quite strongly expanding its roster of Europe-made IP and series. We’ve got quite a few projects in development with them and in production for them. Disney ramping up its European-commissioned content is probably the biggest thing on the radar. TV KIDS: What gains are you seeing in your distribution division? RANDISI: Traditional broadcasters are still the bulk of the business for us. There’s not so much pressure on prices as there is pressure on what broadcasters get for the same price. There is a push from a number of broadcasters to try and secure broader or deeper rights for the same amount of money, which has an impact in the long term on how much money you can get from distribution. We tend to have more and more business with SVOD platforms in terms of acquisitions. And then AVOD is accounting for a fairly decent part of our revenue now—probably around 15 percent of our distribution revenue comes from AVOD. TV KIDS: What particular technologies or storytelling forms most excite you? RANDISI: Three things are more exciting than others. First is the nonlinear way of telling stories. We have had a bit of success with a series commissioned by CBBC and ABC in Australia called Secret Life of Boys. We’ve produced two seasons to date, and we’ve had several awards, including a BAFTA, for the digital component of that series. It was really designed as both a linear and nonlinear series. You can navigate through short segments online and build your own way through the story, or watch it on television as a regular series. That’s been an interesting experience. Is that something that is going to trigger a lot of things in the future? I don’t know yet. Netflix has said it is keen to explore nonlinear ways of telling stories, so that’s interesting. The reality though, if you look at the market, is that the vast majority of broadcasters are just not equipped to deal with that in a meaningful way. So there’s a gap between what technology can do and what is feasible at the broadcast level. Second, the level of quality you can get from CGI animation these days, on a television budget, is increasingly
interesting. You get closer and closer to things that you could only dream of before and that only theatrical budgets could afford. The third is hybrids, mixing animation with live action. Hopefully, that’s going to help broadcasters regain some of their audience. Kids are moving out of animation earlier, and some broadcasters would like to see hybrid mixed media as a way to retain kids a bit longer. Very shortly after that, there will be AR and VR, but I think it’s still at an experimental stage. We are developing one series with a VR component. How broad is it going to be? I don’t know yet. We are going to experiment and see where it takes us. TV KIDS: You have a strong L&M background. How has that space changed in that last few years? What are some of the keys to landing shelf space? RANDISI: On a very top-line basis, every year there are announcements about licensing growing by 3, 4, 5 percent, toy sales growing by 3 or 4 percent. The reality of it is that we are increasingly in a system where the winner takes it all. It is a fact that nowadays if you are not a U.S. studio or a toy company that also has control of certain IPs, securing shelf space is extremely hard. The only real weapon that can be used by independent producers and distributors is patience. It’s essentially about creating a positive experience for retailers, as opposed to what the dominating strategy was maybe ten years or 15 years ago, which was to stuff retail with a lot of products as soon as a show was launching. Typically today you do just the opposite, which is hold tight, wait, and then start testing your IP at retail with a limited line on the assumption that if your limited line is selling well, then you’ll start building your shelf space there. If you go with big volumes, the risk is just too high for anybody. TV KIDS: What’s on your new slate for MIPCOM? RANDISI: We will present a new series called Lilybuds, which we are doing for France Télévisions, Discovery Kids Latin America and TiJi. It is about a group of characters living in a park, invisible to human eyes, whose role is to help nature do its work. We are also distributing Kody Kapow, which launched in July on Sprout [on Universal Kids] and is rating well, it’s one of their top five. We are presenting a brand-new show from Plug-in Media called Tee and Mo for CBeebies. And on the live-action side, we have the new season of Secret Life of Boys and a new program called Joe All Alone for CBBC. And then there are a number of projects in development. TV KIDS: What are your major priorities over the next year or so? RANDISI: The priority for us, as for any medium-sized producer and distributor, is to try to find a balance in the portfolio, to be present in the different segments. At the moment we’ve got a fair amount of preschool, a fair amount of animation. We want to strengthen the older segment, the kids’ part of our animation pipeline, and live action. And then it’s always about spreading your risk. We’re keen to keep cultivating the relationships we have with key commissioning broadcasters. We’re also keen to open up to commissioning broadcasters in new territories and new platforms. So it’s always trying to strike that balance between growing what you’ve got already and at the same time diversifying your risk and having more partners to work with.
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TR E N D S E T T E RS hildren love to laugh and have fun. They are curious and want to feel smart. They want to learn, explore new worlds, real and fantastical. They are keen to see themselves reflected in the shows they watch, and when they connect to characters, they often want the relationship to extend beyond the screen. Two-year-olds can swipe and click and the older they get, the more dexterity they develop on smartphones, tablets and computers. They can search and select long before they can read. Children of all ages know what type of content they like, whether it features sweet worlds and lovable characters, silly and zany storytelling, superheroes with amazing powers or tweens confronting real-world challenges. Children’s influences come not only from parents, caregivers, relatives and teachers but increasingly from the toys they play with and the shows and content they engage with on TV and online. Executives in charge of sourcing and commissioning programming for children have a serious responsibility on their hands because they are tasked with entertaining and informing young viewers in their formative years. Nowadays that job goes beyond simply finding the right TV shows for their television channels; it includes providing content on the many devices and platforms where children are looking for entertainment.
In acknowledgment of this vital segment of the television industry, World Screen, in partnership with MIPJunior, is holding its third annual Kids Trendsetter Awards to honor four individuals who have made significant contributions to the children’s television business. The honorees represent children’s services that are leaders in a single market, as well as channels that are seen in multiple territories: ABC TV’s Michael Carrington, Turner’s Patricia Hidalgo, SUPER RTL’s Janine Weigold and Gloob’s Paula Taborda dos Guaranys. All are keen to innovate and offer their viewers shows they haven’t seen elsewhere. These four television professionals will take part in the panel View from the Top at MIPJunior on Saturday, October 14, from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Grand Theater at the JW Marriott. World Screen’s group editorial director, Anna Carugati, will moderate a lively discussion that will focus on identifying ideas for shows and multiplatform content for today’s media-savvy children. “We’ve been thrilled with our partnership with Reed MIDEM to honor programming wizards who are tasked with building compelling schedules for audiences,” says Ricardo Guise, president and publisher of World Screen. “These executives have the difficult task of spotting innovative ideas while serving the developmental needs of children. We look forward to celebrating their discerning tastes with this award.”
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KIDS TRENDSETTERS PATRICIA HIDALGO Chief Content & Creative Officer, EMEA, & International Kids Strategy, Turner Turner International operates channels and content brands across EMEA, including Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing and Cartoonito. As the chief content officer and being responsible for international kids strategy, Patricia Hidalgo has a broad remit. She’s responsible for all Turner-owned, cofinanced or acquired content across EMEA; oversees programming, marketing and digital strategies; and represents Turner International with production teams in the U.S. Among Turner’s biggest successes are The Amazing World of Gumball, the global hit shepherded by Hidalgo, We Bare Bears and Ben 10, which has spun off eight local versions of the live-action game show Ben 10 Challenge for EMEA. Teen Titans Go! and LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu are other strong performers on Cartoon Network, while Grizzy & the Lemmings and Tom and Jerry are top hits on Boomerang. Hidalgo spent 15 years at The Walt Disney Company before joining Turner in 2013.
MICHAEL CARRINGTON Head of Children ’s Content ABC TV, Australia
Michael Carrington has more than 20 years of experience in children’s television. He started his career in kids’ TV at Network Ten in Australia, then moved to the U.K., where he worked for LEGO Media, CBeebies— as the first controller of the preschool service—Cartoon Network, HIT Entertainment and Zodiak Kids Studios. In 2016, he returned to Australia and is now head of children’s content for the public broadcaster ABC TV, which serves young viewers on TV, online and through mobile apps. ABC KIDS caters to preschoolers with such long-running series as Bananas in Pyjamas, the recent co-production Kazoops! and the acquired Little J & Big Cuz. ABC ME is for older children and offers the recent live-action commissions Nowhere Boys, a drama, and Little Lunch, a comedy, along with the co-productions The Deep and So Awkward.
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KIDS TRENDSETTERS JANINE WEIGOLD Head of Children’s Content SUPER RTL, Germany Part of the RTL Group’s family of channels in Germany, SUPER RTL serves children 3 to 13 with a range of linear and digital offerings. SUPER RTL and Toggo Plus are free-TV channels; Kividoo is an SVOD service; and Toggolino Club, toggo.de and superrtl.de are among several online destinations for youngsters. Janine Weigold, the head of children’s content, is tasked with selecting, developing and co-producing new series. Among the highest-rated programs on the channel are locally produced magazine shows like Woozle Goozle and Wow die Entdeckerzone and the game show Super Toy Club. Recent successful acquired shows have included Dragons, ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks, Tom and Jerry and PAW Patrol. Weigold, who worked at Nickelodeon prior to joining SUPER RTL in 2014, is also involved in presales, which have recently included The Deep, Nate Is Late, Angelo Rules and Take It Easy Mike.
PAULA TABORDA DOS GUARANYS Head of Content & Programming Gloob, Brazil Globosat is Brazil’s leading pay-TV platform and for years has been offering a wide range of programming. In 2012, Globosat decided it also wanted to serve the youngest viewers and launched Gloob, a channel aimed at 6- to 9-year-olds. Gloob’s mission is to inspire and entertain with shows that incorporate themes of friendship, courage and respect. This year, Gloobinho, Globosat’s first preschool channel, makes its debut. As head of content and programming, Paula Taborda dos Guaranys oversees commissioning, co-productions and acquisitions that remain true to the Brazilian DNA of the channel. Among Gloob’s recent hits are live-action original productions Valentins and Blue Building Detectives; the International Emmy-nominated animation S.O.S. Fairy Manu; the internationally co-produced paper-motion production Paper Port and the acquisitions ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir and Odd Squad.
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