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WWW.TVKIDS.WS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018
What Kids Want/FremantleMedia Kids & Familyâ€™s Rick Glankler
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Mirror Mirror In 2017, Sesame Street introduced young viewers to Julia, a brand-new muppet character who happens to have autism. Described as smiley and curious, she joined fuzzy favorites such as Elmo and Cookie Monster as part of a diverse and inclusive crew.
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 Coordinator Andrea Moreno Business Affairs Manager
Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Kids © 2018 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tvkids.ws
The show, which is approaching its landmark 50th anniversary, has made it a point from the very beginning to address timely topics kids themselves are facing—like experiencing trauma or having a parent who is incarcerated—and to represent the diversity of the world they are living in. It’s no wonder, then, that among its many accolades the series has cemented its place in the TV record books as the longest-running children’s program in U.S. history. Television can, indeed, be a powerful teaching tool for delivering kids socially relevant messages like tolerance, acceptance and empathy, along with promoting self-confidence and celebrating individuality. To accomplish this, though, shows for children should serve as a mirror, allowing them to see characters who are just like themselves on-screen, in addition to providing a window on the experiences of those who are different from them. Unfortunately, this hasn’t exactly been the case. A recent report from U.K. media watchdog Ofcom, for example, reveals that more than a third of 8- to 11-yearolds who watch TV say that not enough programs show children who look like them. There have been a number of recently launched series that address this need: Little J and Big Cuz marks Australia’s first animated show to feature Aboriginals, offering relatable characters for Indigenous kids; the comedy adventure Will is about a boy who lives life to the fullest while in a wheelchair; the central character in the preschool animation Pablo is on the autism spectrum, as are the voice talents working on the series. Kids want to see themselves reflected in the characters featured on their favorite shows, and this undoubtedly helps to deepen their connection with the program—an important asset in today’s ultra-crowded children’s TV landscape. In this issue, TV Kids explores the types of programs resonating best with youngsters today. This includes an increased interest in live-action series, which feature characters that little ones can more easily relate to. Also, FremantleMedia Kids & Family’s Rick Glankler shares with us the strategy for engaging children across multiple touchpoints, including by providing bespoke original content for digital platforms. —Kristin Brzoznowski
FEATURE 10 BALANCING ACT In the face of changing viewing habits, distributors are finding new ways to deliver kids the content they want on all the many platforms they’re using.
Rick Glankler The president and general manager of FremantleMedia Kids & Family shares the strategy for engaging young viewers as active participants with the brands it represents.
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Calm Island Badanamu Cadets / Bada’s Learning Adventure / Badanamu Animated Songs Six heroes-in-training learn everything they need to know to protect their world in Badanamu Cadets, a CGIanimated show on offer from Calm Island. “The series features theatrical-quality animation, action, humor and wacky inventions, and our characters have been developed from the hugely successful short-form content to create a whole new look,” says David Roberts, the company’s CEO. “We are currently in production and season one is set for delivery in June 2018.” Also in the Calm Island catalog is Bada’s Learning Adventure, a subscription-based app for iOS and Android devices. “The app will analyze every aspect of a child’s earlylearning path, and we make it easy for parents to follow their child’s progress,” adds Roberts. Other highlights include Badanamu Animated Songs and Badanamu Town.
“The world of Badanamu was created initially as a character-driven preschool concept for children aged 12 months to 5 years.” —David Roberts
Federation Kids & Family
Squish Grammy Awards
The Ollie & Moon Show / Find Me in Paris / Squish Everyday life becomes a zany, globetrotting adventure for two 6-year-old cats in The Ollie & Moon Show, a highlight from Federation Kids & Family. Lena is a typical teenager attending the Paris Opera Ballet School, but she has a secret ability to time travel in the tween drama Find Me in Paris. “We are very confident that the second seasons of The Ollie & Moon Show and Find Me in Paris will be of great interest to our buyers since many of them have already broadcast the first seasons, which have performed very well,” says Monica Levy, the VP of international sales. In Squish, the titular character is an amoeba living in a town inhabited solely by single-celled creatures. Levy expects these series to drum up interest in Latin America, in particular.
“All of our shows are positioned to do well in Latin America.” —Monica Levy
BabyRiki / KikoRiki / PinCode The first season of the animated series BabyRiki launched successfully on digital platforms in China, “exceeding 250 million views on just six major digital platforms, followed by broadcast on an additional 20 digital platforms” and CCTV’s kids’ channel, says Christine Brendle, the CEO of FUN Union. Production on the show’s third season will begin in early 2019. Another highlight is KikoRiki, of which Imira Entertainment has licensed the first three seasons to TV3 in Spain. Then there is PinCode, another hit in China, with more than 20 licensing deals in the country. “We will also be very busy working on Krash and Hehe, our co-production with CCTV Animation and Riki Group,” says Brendle. “The pilot is in production now, and the series will launch in 2019.”
“We will be represented by our partner Imira Entertainment, with whom we signed a multilanguage distribution deal in October.” —Christine Brendle 56 WORLD SCREEN 1/18
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Gloob Time to Rock / Valentins / Brainiacs Globosat’s children’s channel Gloob celebrated its fifth anniversary last year. Among Gloob’s highlights is the animated series Time to Rock, about four friends in a rock band who travel through time and relive key moments in history whenever they play music. Family values are front and center in the live-action series Valentins. The show looks on as four siblings unite to protect their parents from an evil villain. The live-action series Brainiacs follows kids who attend a special school where they discuss technology, social transformation, the role of innovative education and more. “Defying the idea of a single protagonist, all three series support the collective strength, bringing together the universal values of friendship, social inclusion and teamwork,” says Paula Taborda dos Guaranys, Gloob’s head of content and programming.
Time to Rock
“Gloob’s success derives from its commitment to invest in character-driven stories with highquality productions dedicated to entertaining, engaging and inspiring kids to become protagonists in their own reality.” —Paula Taborda dos Guaranys
Hasbro Studios My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic / Littlest Pet Shop: A World of Our Own / Hanazuki Full of Treasures The eighth installment of the popular animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is on offer from Hasbro Studios, according to Finn Arnesen, the company’s senior VP of global distribution and development. The show, which is based on the long-running My Little Pony franchise, follows the adventures of Twilight Sparkle and her five pals as they learn about the magic of friendship while living in the village of Ponyville. “Additional programming highlights include two further animated series: Littlest Pet Shop: A World of Our Own, which premiered in fall 2017 with all-new digital content, followed by the full series in 2018, and Hanazuki Full of Treasures, which will return for a second season in 2018 after its successful launch [last] year,” he says.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
“One of our highlights for this season is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which has continued to achieve high ratings.” —Finn Arnesen
Mondo TV Iberoamerica
Heidi Bienvenida al Show
Heidi Bienvenida a Casa / Heidi Bienvenida al Show / Invention Story This year marks the fourth time that Mondo TV is attending NATPE. At the market, the company will be promoting the follow-up to the live-action hit Heidi Bienvenida a Casa. “Production on the second series— called Heidi Bienvenida al Show—has now been finalized,” says Maria Bonaria Fois, the general manager of Mondo TV Iberoamerica. “Heidi Bienvenida al Show is due out by the beginning of 2018.” The company is also showcasing the first season and has plans for a third installment in the future. There is also Invention Story, a younger-skewing animated show that is slated to launch this year. “Henan York Animation and Mondo TV have already committed to five [seasons of Invention Story] for a total of 520 11-minute episodes,” she adds.
“We’re particularly excited about the second season of Heidi Bienvenida, our comedy-drama for teens.” —Maria Bonaria Fois 1/18 WORLD SCREEN 57
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The Sandwich Show
NPO Sales The Sandwich Show / Doopie / Best Friends Quiz Dutch public broadcaster NTR and distributor NPO Sales are teaming up to present the new puppet series The Sandwich Show to the international market. “What makes The Sandwich Show so appealing to buyers is that it reaches a wide range of children and their parents,” says Margaret Stanneveld, sales manager at NPO Sales. “It offers topics that are important in the lives of children in an educational manner but with a touch of humor.” Another highlight is Doopie, a live-action preschool program also featuring a puppet. In addition, there are a number of new formats on offer, including Best Friends Quiz, aimed at kids aged 8 to 12; Studio Smart, for 6- to 8-year-olds; and The Doctor Corry Show, geared toward the 10-to-14 demo.
“The content that NPO Sales represents in cooperation with [such broadcasters as] NTR…offers high-quality and strong educational storytelling.” —Margaret Stanneveld
Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck
Sésamo/ Pequeñas Aventureras /Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck Young viewers can learn, dance and play with their favorite furry friends in Sésamo, one of Sesame Workshop’s highlights for NATPE. “We are in the middle of a seven-year content refresh and franchise renewal,” says Lewis Kofsky, the company’s VP for Latin America. “Led by our rebrand to Sésamo, we are looking to our 50th anniversary in 2019 and beyond.” Sesame Workshop is also offering up Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck, which follows Cookie and his pal Gonger as they discover where food ingredients come from, and Pequeñas Aventureras, incorporating such themes as gender equality and science. “We have a completely revamped creative team, and we are producing the best content in our history,” adds Kofsky. “Add to that the educational value and engaging characters and we have winners.”
“We have completely reimagined our Latin focus starring our international superstar core characters.” —Lewis Kofsky
Sailor Moon Crystal Patrimonio mundial - Herencia de la humanidad
Dragon Ball Super/Sailor Moon Crystal /Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold
Goku is settling into a normal life in Dragon Ball Super, but the powerful God of Destruction has other plans. Toei Animation is showcasing Dragon Ball Super, which Daniel Castaneda, the director of Latin American licensing, says is “currently one of the highest-rated shows in the U.S. and Latin America. We are also launching an extensive licensing program in the region with the premiere of Dragon Ball Super on most of the free-TV networks.” Additional highlights include Sailor Moon Crystal and Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold. “The classic Sailor Moon is doing well in Mexico, as is the classic Saint Seiya,” Castaneda says. “Now we’re bringing the newest production of the series, Soul of Gold.” The company is also launching the movie Mazinger Z: Infinity in the U.S. and Latin America.
“All of these properties have done really well for our clients.”
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Federation Kids & Familyâ€™s Find Me in Paris. 60 WORLD SCREEN 1/18
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In the face of changing viewing habits, distributors are finding new ways to deliver kids the content they want on all the many platforms they’re using.
By Kristin Brzoznowski he biggest shift in the kids’ programming landscape today is not necessarily what kids are watching but rather how they are watching. Appointment TV is becoming a rare commodity, as children are making their own schedules to watch the shows they want at any time in any place. From networks launching their own apps and catch-up services to the myriad of new SVOD, AVOD and streaming platforms entering the marketplace, the availability of content that can be accessed by kids anytime, anywhere is seemingly limitless. Within this on-demand environment, Netflix has undoubtedly been one of the greatest game changers, but perhaps even more disruptive as of late is YouTube. According to a recent study that surveyed more than 8,200 children and their parents in the U.S., YouTube ranked as kids’ “most loved brand” in 2017. For a second year, YouTube beat out iconic kid-pleasers such as LEGO, McDonald’s and Crayola, and outshined the likes of Netflix, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. “Broadcasters have been telling us that starting at around 8 years old, kids are now going to YouTube,” says David Michel, the managing director of Federation Kids & Family. Added to that is the draw of gaming and other digital entertainment that is taking up more of kids’ time nowadays. “Our challenge as an industry is how we get back the 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-year-olds that have left in herds,” Michel continues. “We’re not going to get them back by giving them what they’re seeing on YouTube. We’re going to get them back by giving them a unique value proposition that they cannot find online.” For Federation Kids & Family, this means a focus on quality. “One of the reasons kids are leaving for YouTube is that the production value [of what’s on the platform] is not that different from what’s currently on TV, especially in terms of live action,” says Michel. This is why, he believes, now is the time to deliver these discerning young viewers series that have the same level of production quality found in shows for adult audiences. As such, Federation Kids & Family, via its sister production arm Cottonwood Media, is currently producing with ZDF and ZDF Enterprises an international premium series for tweens, Find Me in Paris, which has a (very adult) $12 million production budget.
ACTING LIKE ADULTS “The quality bar has been raised and keeps on rising,” says Tom van Waveren, CEO and creative director at CAKE. “Because kids are avid consumers and users of SVOD and AVOD platforms, it’s very easy for them to jump to content that was not necessarily created for them. So, [we need to] make sure that the content that we produce is actually more relevant to them as viewers than before.
The storylines in shows that they watch should remind them of scenes and situations that they experience themselves.” He points out that comedy writing, in particular, has gotten quite good for kids’ shows. “You can compare it much more to what is being done in prime time [for adults] than ever before. Just because we’re writing it for kids doesn’t mean we need to go slowly or over-explain things. Today’s children are more sophisticated as an audience than children have ever been.” CAKE’s Total Drama franchise, which has now been running for six series, answers the call for high-quality comedy, van Waveren says. “From the beginning, the show has treated children as grown-ups and was basically spoofing reality shows…. The level of irony in the series and the way it plays with all the rules of reality shows make it a sophisticated concept that children love.” Angelo Rules is another example of a successful CAKE series that offers some of the key ingredients that children want from their entertainment today: comedy and relatability.
LAUGH TRACK Pierre Sissmann, the chairman and CEO of Cyber Group Studios, also points to comedy as a standout genre in today’s marketplace, alongside preschool content. “While comedy for kids and preschool are still in strong demand, content providers have tried to distinguish themselves in recent years,” he adds. “There has been a comeback of actionadventure with a touch of comedy and the appearance of strong girl-led series, reflecting the change in the audience.” Cyber Group’s The Pirates Next Door, which is an adventure comedy, debuted on France Télévisions with “great ratings,” says Sissmann. “At the same time, we have high hopes for two upcoming series: Gigantosaurus, a preschool series to be released on Disney Junior worldwide in 2019, and Taffy, a pure cartoon comedy co-produced with Turner that will debut this year.” In 2017, the company saw success with its evergreen preschool property Zou, which launched in its third season, and the girl-led animation Mirette Investigates. “We have seen a rise in popularity for both upper-preschool, ‘pre-cool’ shows as well as gender-inclusive shows with comedy,” echoes Finn Arnesen, the senior VP of international distribution and development at Hasbro Studios. “Our shows such as My Little Pony and Rescue Bots address this demand.” My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is returning for season eight this year, and the success of the brand’s first full-length animated feature film, My Little Pony: The Movie, has helped to bring fresh energy to the franchise. “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is a great companion to the My Little Pony brand and is perfect for our older, tween audience,” adds Arnesen. The series returned in 2017 via digital shorts on YouTube, and there will be 45 new episodes released on a weekly basis. 1/18 WORLD SCREEN 61
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CAKE has launched to the market Pablo, which follows the adventures of a little boy who is on the autism spectrum.
The Hasbro catalog is home to a wealth of series like My Little Pony that are based on iconic toy properties, including Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, which recently debuted on Netflix. “What’s working well at the moment is when a series is based on an IP that already exists, like a book or graphic novel,” says Jérôme Alby, the managing director of Mediatoon Distribution. “Little Furry is a good example of that. The Little Furry books have already sold over half a million copies in the French market alone.” The property is published in 11 countries, including Germany, Spain and China, and the series will soon be aired in more than 50 territories worldwide. Mediatoon also represents The Garfield Show, inspired by the classic comic strip, with shorts and specials surrounding the brand. “When you hit the market with a show that’s based on an iconic property like Garfield, it resonates
from an audience perspective,” he adds. Especially if it’s an IP that can make kids laugh. Gaumont, for example, is bringing to the marketplace Belle and Sebastian, an animated comedy adventure based on an original live-action series from the 1960s that it hopes will strike a chord with the 5-to-9 audience. The company also believes that Furiki Wheels, a slapstick comedy for 6- to 11-year-olds, and Trulli Tales, a comedy adventure that caters to an upperpreschool audience, are in line with what’s in demand today. The first season of Trulli Tales is packaged as 52 11-minute episodes, along with 13 bite-sized 1-minute episodes. “Digital platforms are looking for shorter content and more episodes because this is the way that kids want to consume content,” says Vanessa Shapiro, Gaumont’s president of worldwide TV distribution and co-production. Mondo TV has taken note of the trend toward shorter running times and larger episode counts as well. While the first two seasons of its animated hit Sissi the Young Empress were done as 26 half-hours, the brand-new season three has changed its format to 52x11 minutes.
SIZE MATTERS Micheline Azoury, Mondo TV’s head of acquisitions and TV sales, says that the shorter runs mean a faster pace, making it “easier to translate the comedy in the episode into an adventure or a gag. Shorter is better—also for the scriptwriters. A half-hour is not going to work anymore for a comedy; 7 to 11 minutes is a good length.” “Ten years ago, there were still a lot of kids’ series with episodes of a half-hour, 22 or 26 minutes,” observes
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Mondo TV is looking to add more live-action properties to its roster, which already includes Heidi Bienvenida al Show. Mediatoon’s Alby. “That has now gone down quite a lot; it’s more like quarter-hours, very often 11 to 13 minutes. The pace is faster, and that’s what the audience wants.” The shorter format is particularly well suited for digital platforms like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, which allow kids to quickly move onto the next episode without the constraints of the traditional time slot. “What is cool with the nonlinear offers now is that [viewers] can get into serialized storytelling much more easily,” Alby adds. “People used to have to wait a week or a couple of days to watch the next episode. When it’s on SVOD, for example, platforms program many or all at the same time, and viewers can binge-watch them; it’s easy!” CAKE’s van Waveren says that children have long been fans of serialized content, and it’s the platforms that needed to catch up. “The reality of kids’ channels is that they would strip shows and rerun series so many times that they wanted to be able to play them in any order possible to get the maximum flexibility in their schedule. Kids have always loved the concept of a bigger backstory, but it didn’t work with the model of the platforms that they went on to get their content. The arrival of SVOD platforms, where people will watch a whole series sequentially over a weekend, creates the ideal environment for something that’s serialized.” He emphasizes that the proliferation of these new platforms has meant that there is more choice, not only in places to find content but also in the kinds of formats that can be found. Cyber Group’s Sissmann agrees, noting that kids’ predilection for on-demand viewing is reshaping the content itself. “It gives us more freedom to test new formats, serialized
productions, and all genres as opposed to just comedy, which has been the ruler in the last five years. This is why it is key for us to have a panel of different genres in development. Over the last three years, our number of series in the development stage has gone from 5 to over 12, reflecting the genre diversification.” Cyber Group is also reacting to kids’ increasing appetite for additional content linked to properties, “whether it appears on YouTube, on a proprietary channel under the form of short formats, or even on apps or video games. For Mirette Investigates, we have created a stream of short, interactive investigation episodes for the web that kids have particularly enjoyed.” The company is planning additional content to engage viewers for Gigantosaurus and Sadie Sparks as well. “Digital extensions have become very important, as kids want to engage with their favorite characters across multiple formats,” says Gaumont’s Shapiro. “As we develop our new kids’ shows, digital extensions are a key component that we are focusing on now.”
GET APPY Mediatoon has incorporated digital into the DNA of its series MaXi, geared toward kids 8-plus. “You can see the content on linear, but at the same time you can download the MaXi app, where you can watch the episodes and even rewrite the beginning or end of the episodes you like,” explains Alby. “We launched MaXi on the app before it even hit the linear network in Canada.” While kids do enjoy having an app or other digital content tied to their favorite shows to interact with, Alby cautions that the add-ons need to be worthy of children’s time and attention—which seem to be in short supply these days. 1/18 WORLD SCREEN 63
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Cyber Group’s The Pirates Next Door mixes adventure and comedy.
“There have been lots of shows that hit the market with transmedia offers, but if the transmedia isn’t up to the kids’ expectations, it’s no use.” And today’s finicky youngsters are now more easily able to share their opinions about what they like and what they don’t, having a nearly direct connection with the content creators themselves. “You can see that especially online on platforms like YouTube; that is how content is being produced,” says CAKE’s van Waveren. “I am fascinated by it! We as linear producers never had that feedback, so we simply don’t know what our audience thinks in such level of detail. Whereas if you talk to people who produce content for digital and post new episodes every week, they get feedback and can see which episodes are embraced by their audience and which aren’t. They get a very direct relationship with their audience,” and that, in turn, influences how the content turns out. “We’re not 100 percent there yet, but we are certainly looking at ways that we can do the same,” he adds.
FEELING REPRESENTED Something else CAKE is working on is ensuring that the diversity kids see in the world around them is reflected back on-screen, an initiative that van Waveren feels is beneficial for children and the industry as a whole. The company has brought to the market Pablo, about a boy who is on the autism spectrum. “All the stories are based on the experiences of parents and caregivers who have children with autism and also people with autism who have contributed their own ideas,” van Waveren explains. “Pablo is also co-written and voiced by young autistic talent. We are getting incredible feedback from parents and audiences of children who for the first time see themselves represented on-screen, which is really special. We find it exciting to work in an industry where we can tell these stories to different segments of the audience and make them feel recognized.” “There is a growing trend for more socially responsible, gender-inclusive content in the current climate,” says 64 WORLD SCREEN 1/18
Hasbro’s Arnesen. He highlights the important messages of acceptance and friendship explored in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.
REAL KIDS As children are warmly embracing shows in which they can see people like themselves represented on-screen, live action is gaining in popularity once again. Mondo TV’s Azoury points to this as a genre she’s keeping a close eye on. The company already has in its catalog Heidi Bienvenida a Casa and its follow-up season Heidi Bienvenida al Show, and there’s a third on the planner. “We are strongly investing in this area and looking for more IP down the road,” she says. “The broadcasters know that it is something [viewers want], so they are willing to try it—we need to have the material for them.” Mediatoon’s Alby is equally optimistic about live-action fiction for kids. “Especially now that we can go back to serialized, we think that live action is going to be redeveloped. Kids can more easily identify with these characters.” The company is gearing up to launch the live-action show Lucas etc., which Alby says encompasses many of the elements that are trending with kids today: “it’s serialized, it’s short—each episode is 7 minutes—and we have pranks that we can make available on the web as well as a making-of.” Federation Kids & Family is also looking to live action to fill what Michel sees as a gap in the marketplace. “There is a lack of shows for kids about strong, empowered female characters. There are a few in the market, but if you compare them to their male counterparts, it’s nothing. Girls are an underserved market.” Michel says the company is addressing this with Find Me in Paris and other new shows in development. “Believe it or not, it’s really hard to find writers that write interesting, compelling female characters. Usually, female characters are either written as very girly or very tomboyish; there’s nothing in between. Interesting female characters that are created with finesse are hard to come by.” The production community will hopefully rise to the challenge of incorporating more true-to-life characters, in all their diverse glory, into the shows kids are watching.
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By Kristin Brzoznowski
As a producer, distributor and licensor, FremantleMedia Kids & Family (FMK) is able to map out a 360-degree brand plan for properties from the earliest possible stages. The company has recognized the increasingly important role that digital plays in reaching children nowadays and is creating bespoke original content for online platforms that amplifies exposure for its IP. Rick Glankler, the president and general manager of FMK, shares with TV Kids the strategy for engaging young viewers as active participants with the brands it represents. TV KIDS: How have you approached growing the company while maintaining the level of quality and flexibility required in today’s ultra-competitive market?
GLANKLER: We are very nimble and are able to work with partners in different ways. Whether it’s co-producing, being a licensor or distributor or looking at format production, we are flexible and strategic. Regardless of the rights ownership or role that we’re playing, it is about making sure that our investment is commensurate with the risk and opportunity. Rather than setting the bar in the same place with every brand that we invest in, it’s about setting the bar in the right place. If it’s a lower risk, maybe we will make a greater investment—and vice versa. That allows us to get over the bar more consistently. This strategy is paying off. TV KIDS: What have been some of the successful results from the five-year BBC Children’s partnership? GLANKLER: Tree Fu Tom, which launched in 2012, has seen continued ratings success across its seasons. Danger Mouse was the first brand that I worked on as part of this partnership, and it premiered in 2015 as the most successful CBBC launch of the prior two years. It was not just about the joint storytelling we were able to do in the reboot, but also the BBC leveraging all of its strengths and consumer connections to amplify viewership and engagement. The on-air stunts, online and iPlayer support really did help to create success for both parties. We are also developing Bitz & Bob, which is a groundbreaking preschool show. In a world where consumer viewership is so fragmented—almost to a point where content is now disposable—how do you create breakthrough content? For us, first and foremost it’s about recognizing where there’s a white space and a need in the marketplace. Bitz & Bob addresses the need for girls to be represented in engineering-related fields. We are the first in preschool to deliver this message. We have worked with female engineers on both sides of the pond to have an authentic female voice and to ensure that the curriculum is appropriate for preschoolers. Not only are we doing traditional storytelling, which is the 11-minute animated pieces, but we are also doing a live-action companion show, how-tos, online content, encouraging user-generated content and creating a robust bespoke world that we know will reach kids in the way that they’re consuming content today. TV KIDS: Is it important nowadays to have short-form content that complements the traditional linearlength shows? GLANKLER: It depends. Consumers are engaging with brands differently than they have historically, and they have different expectations about their relationships with brands. Kids today want to be immersed, they want to have a personal one-to-one relationship; they want content to be interactive and, in many ways, in their control. It’s also about the other experiences, whether that’s short-form, the toy-related unboxing phenomenon that’s happening, seeing character interviews, seeing other kids interacting or stories they create around a brand. We are looking at all the ways kids are engaging with brands and making sure that our content is there, and that
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18 TV KIDS
FremantleMedia Kids & Family teamed up with Thailand’s Shellhut Entertainment for the animated comedy Tasty Tales of the Food Truckers.
the right form of our content is there. For example, for every 11-minute animated episode that is for linear broadcast, our goal is to have 15 to 22 minutes of custom content that will be online. That could be on YouTube, multichannel networks or broadcasters’ own websites. The digital strategy for many companies is to put their episodes—or portions of them—online and monetize it that way. For us, it’s about creating bespoke content. TV KIDS: Are platforms like YouTube becoming a more important part of your overall strategy? GLANKLER: We don’t see it as a revenue-driver as much as we see it as an opportunity to engage our consumer and expand our relationship with them. Our success in this space isn’t based on the amount of ad revenues but in the amount of time kids spend with our content. Our hope is that kids can go from a passive viewer watching it on TV to an active participant in the brand through digital. If we can leverage platforms like YouTube by creating custom content, it’s going to bring children more into the brand so that they become passionate advocates. We are using each platform to strategically further engage each and every consumer that we have around the world. TV KIDS: And that strategy for engagement also extends into FMK’s wider consumer-products and live-events businesses. GLANKLER: Exactly. We are not losing sight of those in any way. It’s about the traditional [brand extensions] as well as the new ones. So, while we are focused on digital extensions and game apps, live shows and experiential events are still critical to our business. We continue to have success with Tree Fu Tom experiences at Alton Towers. We have had a lot of live appearances around Danger Mouse at the Thomas Cook resorts in Europe. Kate & Mim-Mim is doing a theater tour in Spain and Portugal. TV KIDS: How did the partnership with Shellhut Entertainment come about for Tasty Tales of the Food Truckers? GLANKLER: One of our strengths, alongside global distribution, is the ability to tell a story and have our storytelling resonate globally. Shellhut came to us because of that strength. They had been creating an animated food-based show, which was in development but not fully realized. Our production team had a look at it, knew there was a great idea there, dialed up the comedy and reworked the characters and Tasty Tales was the result. 68 WORLD SCREEN 1/18
Comedy is always important for the 6-to-11 demographic. We also recognize that kids are engaging with food, either on a personal level or watching [shows about it on TV]. While every episode has zany comedy and is completely fantastical, at the root of every story there is also a real food ingredient. There is a balance of the humor, fun and irreverence with the touchpoints that have a truth to them, and that adds more to the authenticity of the comedy. TV KIDS: How does FMK tap into the larger FremantleMedia expertise? GLANKLER: We do this in several ways. One example is, [CBBC] had a format that has done incredibly well for them in the U.K., Marrying Mum and Dad. We stepped in to help sell the format internationally and just did our first sale on it, in Sweden. We were able to tap into our FremantleMedia Sweden production office to help produce this show for SVT. We have also produced two new game shows for NBCUniversal’s Universal Kids. That came about through our joint kids’ teams speaking about format opportunities and game shows targeting kids, and we looked to our FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) office to make that link. From that, FMNA created The Noise and a kids’ version of Beat the Clock. We will continue to look for more opportunities like those as we go forward. TV KIDS: What are some of the opportunities that FMK is finding in the Asian market? GLANKLER: We opened an office in Hong Kong over three years ago. I’ve had proven success in my prior experiences of building Western brands, like Thomas & Friends for example, into regional successes. You need boots on the ground to do that effectively. I brought over Henry Or, who is our senior VP for Asia. He has the relationships and expert consumer knowledge and understanding that allow him to tailor our programs to create the best fit. We’ve had two shows airing on CCTV, Kate & Mim-Mim and Tree Fu Tom. Launching on CCTV is a tremendous feat in and of itself, but we also went to next-day airing on seven SVOD and digital channels in the region knowing that it would continue to get more consumers into the brands. Our first licensing deals are coming through for both brands in China as a result.
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