Report – Commissioner Conversations – BBC
This session invited key speakers from the BBC to reveal their strategy for the future and how the CMC audience can engage with them through pitching, development and production of content across all platforms.
• The ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better’ strategy will provide focus for priority brands, but not at the expense of new content across all genres and platforms.
• There are opportunities to pitch for new content for 13-16 year olds which will sit on BBC iPlayer.
• Across CBeebies and CBBC there are opportunities to pitch for drama, as well as games and short form content for apps.
• Animation is still key across both channels and there is an open door policy for pitches.
Cheryl began by outlining the BBC Children’s ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better’ strategy to provide a balanced diet of content to kids aged 0-12, as well as 13-16 in more recent months. Stuart Rowson emphasised the important question this raises – what are our priority brands and how can we make them as big as we can?
The BBC creates 400 hours of original content for CBBC and 100 hours for CBeebies each year. Currently they are tilting a little more towards drama as part of the new ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better’ strategy, but the team will think very carefully about how this is balanced across genres. Cheryl announced that new content for 13-16 year olds on iPlayer will fill the gap for the teenage audience and address issues that cannot be raised on CBBC. Stuart added that content will be commissioned without a dedicated channel to sit on for the first time.
There are opportunities to create content for the Playtime Island app, as well as two new apps and games. Lucie explained that overheads for pitching should now be lower and the process more straightforward. The BBC has opened up a chance to be part of a new games roster of 15 companies to create HTML games. Games for 5-7 year olds need to have clear rewards and be quirky and funny, while for 8-10 mastery is more important.
Cheryl talked about how the CBBC Buzz app eats content. Short form sketches have been commissioned and there are high volume, fairly low cost opportunities for creating further content. She encouraged the audience to sign up to the newsletter and visit the website to find out what they are looking for and how to get in touch.
After the first commissioning round, the BBC received a deluge of ideas and are essentially stocked up for next 18 months, particularly in drama. However, they want to grow iPlayer as a destination and are interested in short runs – ideally 3-5 episodes – of dramas for the CBBC audience that they can build stunts around. ‘Katie’ and ‘Joe All Alone’ are good examples. They want to reflect a diverse range of children’s lives.
On CBeebies, they are looking for new live-action drama. Waffle the Wonder Dog is good example of something that has not been done before. They are also interested in mood management for pre-schoolers and shows that encourage ‘make and do’ together with parents.
Animation is still key across both CBeebies and CBBC. Cheryl encouraged companies to send any great project ideas to Jackie Edwards and the BBC Children’s Acquisitions team, in particular for pre-schoolers but also for CBBC.
For CBBC, Cheryl is on the lookout for entertainment content led by female presenting talent. Influencers are important to both CBBC and CBeebies, and they are interested in shows that can be built around them.
Lucie discussed her concerns regarding VR for younger audiences, and how AR currently is a better fit. They have commissioned 5 prototypes, which bring kid’s favourite characters into their homes via their iPads. They are especially interested in games which encourage kids to get moving around the house, talking to friends and family.
In the Q&A session, an audience member asked if the BBC would be open to co-productions. Cheryl confirmed co-productions are and will increasingly become very important. They are not scared of big projects and do want to work with other broadcasters and platforms.
Written by Emma Boucher