Report – Meet the Commissioners: Channels
The full session is available here as videos and as podcasts:
Nico Franks of C21 Media, introduced executives from the digital children’s channels Nickelodeon, Baby TV, Disney and Turner.
- Nickelodeon says: “Approach a pitch as a partnership, not as a boss/employee relationship.”
- Baby TV addresses parents first.
- Disney is open to pitches from every talented individual.
- Turner is open all year round for submissions
Alison Bakunowich, General Manager of UK and Ireland, and Nina Hahn, Senior VP of Nickelodeon, were first to set out their stall. Nickelodeon is currently the number one satellite kids network, and boasts coverage of kids in nappies to skinny jeans, with pre-school being their biggest viewing category.
Nickelodeon (and Channel 5’s Milkshake) owners Viacom consider the Nickelodeon Network to be very grounded, whilst reflecting a kids’ universe. Comedy is the core of the pre-school and Nick content.
Linear is still the beating heart of the Nickelodeon Network, however they try to utilise all other platforms to be visible to kids everywhere. Recently Nick arranged for the cast of ‘Ride’ (live action drama) to get involved in a Facebook LIVE event, which proved very successful.
Alison and Nina both agreed that the Nickelodeon Vision is making the world a more playful place, and that you need to be everywhere, making use of all platforms available.
When looking to commission, Nickelodeon are only for content that will travel – global hits. Nick is consistent in what it stands for and what appeals to them, so will pass on to Milkshake if it doesn’t sit with their brand.
Nick commissioners will chat through the pitch with Milkshake, should it be ideal for the Channel 5 morning shows.
When pitching to Nickelodeon, the shows must be platform agnostic. Producers must be creative driven, and able to see the bigger picture in terms of brand and products.
Nickelodeon recently undertook a search for UK talent, with over 600 UK kids showcasing themselves as new talent on UK shows.
Next up was Baby TV’s Co-Founder and Head of Content, Ron Isaak, who explained how Baby TV needs to address parents first. So how do they do that? All Baby TV content is created by child development experts creating loyalty, trust and happy viewers over 900 platforms.
Baby TV’s repetition structure makes the kids feel good about themselves – they know what’s coming next, then when it happens they pat themselves on the back for being right!
All programming needs to be multi-layered content to fit all age groups. Baby TV is now owned by FOX.
Disney’s David Levine and Orion Ross, both VPs of Disney EMEA, represent Disney Junior for pre-school, Disney Channel for 6-12s leaning towards girls, and Disney XD targeting predominantly boys aged 6-12.
Orion explained how animated global successes are dubbed in to 21 languages and are often ‘fully commissioned’, ‘co-produced’ and ‘pre-buys’.
Shows often feature blended families such as the new ‘101 Damlmation Street’, ‘Space Chickens in Space’, ‘Lottie Bearshout’ and ‘Claude’.
Also new to Disney is ‘So Sammy’. ‘So Sammy’ is the brainchild of comedienne Miranda Hart about a young girl Vlogger. ‘So Sammy’ was created for all platforms, streaming 10 x 2 mins shows on DisneyLife, followed soon after by the apps – an experiment prior to linear.
Zia Bales and Cecilia Persson from Turner Broadcasting told us about their biggest challenge in finding the perfect partners to patchwork and pull their visions together. Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Cartoonito celebrate animation, helping children believe that anything is possible.
With regards to pitching, both highlighted (as did Disney) that content needs to identify and make sense with the platform, and does not necessarily need a 360 plan.
A quirky style of humour identifies Cartoon Network and targets older children, alongside Boomerang, which aims at co-viewing families with boys and girls aged between 4-7, and Cartoonito for the pre-schoolers with engaging characters and story telling. On Turner’s wish list is more squash and stretch, and pure comedy.
By guest blogger, Christina Evans
Senior Reporter, C21Media & editor, C21Kids
General Manager, Nickelodeon UK & Ireland
Turner Broadcasting Systems
Senior Acquisitions Manager Kids’ Channels EMEA
Senior Vice President, International Production & Development
Co-founder & Head of Content, Creative & Programming
Disney Channels EMEA
Vice President, Programming, Production & Strategic Development, Disney Channels EMEA, & General Manager, Disney Channels UK & Ireland
Turner Broadcasting System
Vice President, Programming & Content Strategy Kids EMEA, Acquisitions and Co-Production International, Kids
The Walt Disney Company
VP Content – Animation & Digital, Disney Channels EMEA
Fudge Animation Studios