Report – Commissioner Conversations VoD

Posted on: Friday 05 July 2019 9:48pm by Cate Zerega


  • Online Safety, although viewed differently is a guiding principal in all commissioning.
  • Content with high and forward thinking child discoverability is lucrative in commissioning VoD.


Nico Franks of C21 Media kicked off the conversation asking what has worked for commissioners in the past, what they’re looking for next and how to get a pitch through.

Estelle Lloyd programmes for Azoomee’s platform according to the premium nature and hand picked sensibility of the brand. Game content is as important to Azoomee as video content because games are the number one driver of engagement with the product. Games content also helps them differentiate themselves from Netflix. Azoomee is emerging from a fallow year of commissioning and so are thinking again about commissioning and creating original content that adheres to their highly curated approach that blends recognizable kids IP, hidden gems and games. Their research has produced a trend from parents wanting to see more STEM content and more social emotional content. They aren’t necessarily interested in exclusivity yet.

Lydia Mossahebi, head of digital at Beano Studios works to produce content on their platform and youtube – so no subscriber model, everything they do is free. Franks asked why Beano has focussed on YouTube content; Beano research indicates that YouTube is where the kids are, thus if they need to be able to access them they have to go there. They manage parental fear of access to inappropriate content on YouTube by programming for older kids on that platform and utilizing the trust parents have in their well established brand. Beano has recently launched a search looking to get fresh voices involved, however, new material development takes a back seat to ways they can utilize and reinvent their existing IP. Much of Beano’s qualitative research comes from their ‘Beano Brain’ – a panel of twelve kid trendspotters who meet once a week. The ‘Beano Brain’ gives them access to emerging trends and their digital structure allows them to turn trend based content around within a week. A guiding question for Beano is “what is a kid going to search for this week?”.

Hopster’s Chief Creative & Content Officer, Miki Chojnacka, explicated Hopster’s preschool programming strategy based on their “Discovery Learning Map” which has six facets designed to foster preschooler’s: communication and learning through language and literacy, thinking about numbers and solving puzzles, expressing myself through art, understanding my healthy body and mind, exploring the world around me, finding out about me, my friends and family. Hopster’s brand priority is to introduce important topics to preschool therefore their licensing & commissioning is most interested in diversity in creators. Their research found a dearth of content for preschoolers about lgbt+ pride so they commissioned the show ‘Pride’ designed to celebrate: “family, love and lgbt+ inclusivity”. They have recently been investing in their own original, exclusive, content under a MVP (minimum viable product) model which means they start small and see how the content does.

When commissioning, Brenda Bisner the SVP of Content and Business Development with Kidoodle.TV, seeks to create a millennial mom army so that every mom has a safe space to take their kids. Kidoodle operates as a tech company, not a content company creating a digital playground that is safe for children under age twelve. Bisner’s programming emphasizes human contextualization of material as opposed to the algorithmic data that is part of YouTube’s tech. Their terms are not exclusive because they utilize AVOD & SVOD aiming to entice parents with subscription fatigue. Content like holiday specials that lends itself to conversation with a strong social strategy is lucrative to them. Influencer and gaming content that is well made also stands out to Brenda. A guiding principal of their development strategy is that they are in “a moment business, not minute business”. Therefore, projects that benefit from lengthy development process are not the right fit for their model. Not looking for 3 years of talking about feelings

Lucy Murphy, Head of Kids Content at Sky UK & R.O.I. accesses high quality and diverse content from Sky’s partners. Thus content that looks like Cartoon Network is not lucrative because Sky has access to Cartoon Network through partnership. Content for underserved audiences as well as live entertainment is a better fit within their strategy. Lucy’s commissioning has a high discoverability with kids. Sky has a kid safe mode upcoming that allows parents to lock their box, thus ensuring that kids can’t access an episode ‘The Walking Dead’ that their parents watched the night before. Sky is also launching a relationship with common sense kids to fulfill parent wish for more nuance to content choice than a rating. Sky is keen to make screen time count across their brand.

CMC 2019 Blog CMC 2019 Reports Event Reports

Cate Zerega

About the author

Cate Zerega

Freelance Production Coordinator

Cate has worked as a nanny, a talent agent, in casting & production. Cate’s resume means she no longer fears anything and has sunblock & headshots always about. She completed an MA in the screen industries in 2018 & works passionately to promoting female filmmakers. Read more