Commissioner Conversations: Commercial Networks – Report

Posted on: Friday 03 July 2015 1:32am by Tracy Warren


  • Fresh, new and innovative idea will always be welcomed – starting tonight at the bar.
  • There is a gap for 10-14’s so if you have content to capture this international audience, get them in.
  • Research what the channel is looking for before you submit your idea.
  • Networks are global so if you chat to one person, they will discuss it for the UK and international opportunities.
  • Tell your story with passion and authenticity.
  • You can pitch as a creator, however, linking up with a production company can help put your idea together and open up new formats.

As her fans would say, OMG where is the next chapter?   19 year old Beth Reekles was the Changemaker for this session. She secretly started writing on a second-hand laptop, aged 15, that evolved into a three book deal with Random House, a movie deal and more. Her lack of confidence and self belief at 15 gradually dissipated and she found her voice.  She confirmed that a feeling of community and acceptance is incredibly important to young peopleand creating and sharing content was for her the way of entering that community.  Here advice: allow the audience to be themselves and be do-ers rather than dreamers.

View Beth’s presentation session on Video:

Richard Rowe moderated the main session starting with with  trying to pitch his tongue-in-cheek ‘Stick Man’ series to the top players. They were all encouraging but unfortunately no deals were sealed.  Top marks for trying Richard.

It was full session with examples of the latest work from each of the three cable and satellite channel groups and interviews with their senior teams.  Some quick bites…

Nina Hahn, SVP International Production and Development, Nickelodeon

Nina is looking for 2.5 minute shorts for their global animated shorts project.

Tim Patterson, VP and Director of Programming, Nickelodeon UK

We are blessed with a rich amount of talent in the UK so Nick’s main initiative is to find great ideas from the UK which can be shared internationally.  ‘Digby Dragon’ (Blue Zoo) is a prime example of how a programme can be home-grown and then travel around the world.  Think about this when you are pitching as international appeal is key. is a portal for ideas so get cracking and send them in.

Marianne James, VP Consumer Products UK & Ireland & European Retail Sales & Marketing Viacom International Media Networks

Being a lover of sugar and spice and all things nice, getting a sneak peak into new series ‘Shimmer and Shine’ was a treat. With lessons in resilience, perseverance and team work, this is going to be a little girl’s dream, full of glitter and glam. Consumer product heaven bringing these girls to life through toy partners.

Consumer products are a huge part of extending the experience and CP team get involved from the very beginning.

Watch the full video of the Nickelodeon Conversation:

Patricia Hidalgo, SVP, Chief Content & Creative Officer, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System EMEA

Boomerang is the heart of the Turner brand with the good old whimsical classics that appeal to both parents and kids.  If you maintain these values there may be a place for your programmes on Boomerang.  Cartoonito is also open to new content if you are interested in helping fire the imagination of pre-schoolers.

Sarah Fell, Executive Producer, The Amazing World of Gumball

Sarah mentioned they are looking for UK talent interested in going over to the US studio to work on productions.

Cecilia Persson, VP Acquisitions & Co-Productions, International Turner Broadcasting System EMEA

If you have a creative idea you are ready to pitch, Cecilia is happy to listen.  They have plenty of slots for creative, passionate ideas that inspire children.  They like creators to have the freedom to create as long as it is compliant and appeals universally.

If you have interstitials and short form, please submit them.

Watch the full video of the Turner Conversation:

David Levine – VP Programming, Productions and Strategic Developments, Disney Channels EMEA & General Manager Disney Channels UK & Ireland

The Disney part of the session started with a happy birthday cheers to David and a glass of Morrissons finest bubbly.  He mentions that they have a great pipeline from the US but are looking to develop live action and more dramatic programming.

Louise Bucknole – Director of Programming, Disney Channels UK & Ireland

There is no commissioning round but they are looking for content for 2017 and beyond.  Requirements change as audience needs change so when you are ready, get in touch to check the landscape.

As they are not a studio, they mainly do promos, interstitials and short form in-house and work with mainly independent production companies for the rest. They have no set genre quotes, which allows flexibility in gaps in their schedule.

Orion Ross – VP Content – Animation, Digital & Acquisitions, Disney Channels EMEA

Disney have a bespoke approach to each pitch depending on the stage it’s at. Top pitching tips – whisky is good but not fireworks (do no harm). If you are pitching comedy, it should be a performance and conversation so should be funny and engaging.

A UK homegrown animation will be released around the world in 2016.  ‘Counterfeit Cat’ produced in Bristol will see the adventures of a nervous selfish house cat and his friend Gark.

Happy pitching everyone!

Watch the full video of the Disney Conversation:

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Tracy Warren

About the author

Tracy Warren

Tracy Jayne Creative, Freelancer

Tracy spends her days photographing young people and writing children’s books.  She is currently working on a long list of tv programme ideas and collaborating with others on factual impactful programming.  She has recently discovered a love of blogging, food photography, children’s fashion photography, cinematography and editing.  She has been living in… Read more