Report – Meet the Commissioners: Video On Demand

Posted on: Friday 07 July 2017 2:03pm by Christina Evans

The session began with a presentation by changemaker Steven Kavuma:


Jesse Whittock, editor of TBI, introduced a panel of commissioners for VOD content, who explained to delegates exactly what kind of pitches are interesting to them at the moment


  • Sky Kids balances its channel partner’s US content with British commissions and acquisitions
  • Learning shows including ‘Ben and Holly’ are popular with the Hopster audience
  • Azoomee look for entertainment lead content, with learning incorporated.


Changemaker Steven Kavumafounder of the Diversity School Initiative, started the session by giving an inspirational speech about diversity and challenges in education.

The first of the VOD commissioners to speak was Lucy Murphy, Head of Kids Content at Sky KidsShe gave insight into the history of Sky Kids from its launch in May 2015 of the Kids tile on the set top box. It provided a kids’ destination for the first time, with easy access to their linear channels, catch up and box sets. April 2016 saw the Sky Kids App come into play, with NOW TV Kids successfully launching in June 2016.

When asked: “How will you take commissioning forward?,” Lucy told us that Sky Kids are looking for different short format from various unusual outlets, such as online and crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Kickstarter provided Sky with a new show ‘Labuntina’, co-commissioned with Creative England.

Already under the Sky Kids wing is the ‘Best of the US’ content from Sky’s partner channels, so when it comes to commissions and acquisitions they try to balance that with premium British content, including kids’ and parents’ favourite ‘Morph’, ‘Big Cats’ and ‘Aliens Love Underpants’. Sky Kids are really excited about turning our best loved books into quirky, distinctive, top quality content.

Estelle Lloyd from Azoomee is quite new to the VOD scene, and is already super successful. Working with the NSPCC, Azoomee target the 5-10s and are distributed by O2 and Telco.

The week commencing 17 July will see Azoomee Chat go live. ‘Search it up’ was Azoomee’s first acquisition and Estelle explained that they’re looking for more commissions within a similar online safety aspect, alongside online education and STEM. Content must be entertainment led, with learning incorporated, not the other way round. Estelle said she is often asked: “How do you measure success on your platform?”, to which the answer was that the Azoomee team reach out to parents and kids for feedback and Social Return On Investment (SROI).

She added that Azoomee will be launching internationally, but will remain English language exclusively.

The next speaker was Mevelyn Noriega for Kabillion, a Splash Entertainment production and distribution company. Kabillion is a free VOD platform along with Kabillion Girls Rule. They build brands and grow awareness globally after appreciating that there was a platform needed for their shows in the UK and overseas. The platform is aimed at 6-12s and is an on-demand TV app for today’s kids.

Nicholas Walters is Founder and CEO of Hopster – recognised as one of the first platforms in the kids’ app space, launching back in 2013. Now available in 100 countries, after success in the UK, Hopster focuses predominantly on UK, USA, NZ, Australia and France. It is considered as a learning platform, mostly consisting of short form learning content helping kids learn.

Learning shows including ‘Ben and Holly’ are popular with the Hopster audience, said Nicholas, with Hopster featuring full coverage on learning through to phonics. ‘Clever Brenda’, a new short form show, encourages recycling and being environmentally friendly.

He added that Hopster provides a global service, and doesn’t need or encourage exclusives.

Sarah Aspinall, Kids and Music Editor of Virgin Media UK, joined the company in November 2016 after Virgin realised the importance of kids’ TV in the UK market. Sarah and her team now focus on what is needed to be done and how to get there. Virgin know what their viewers trust and enjoy and how to keep them viewing on linear TV.

Virgin Kids now have a new separate offering: Virgin TV Kids. New playlists are added weekly with over 3,000 episodes commissioned within the last two months. In addition to Virgin Kids TV is a brand new promotional channel to advertise what’s trending on the platform. From an acquisitions perspective, Sarah said, it’s quality not quantity that Virgin are seeking, treating commissioning on a case to case basis.

Sarah is not tied to traditional routes or formats, and considers video on demand as another complimentary outlet for TV.

By guest blogger Christina Evans, U Music TV

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Christina Evans

About the author

Christina Evans

U Music TV, CEO

Christina, a mum of two, is the founder of U Music TV, the new pop music TV show and channel for children that shows only age-appropriate content for toddlers to teens. U Music TV is available online at and via the app stores, and is also live on Sky channel… Read more