Report: Commissioner Conversations- SVODs

Posted on: Wednesday 08 July 2020 10:32pm by Simon Bor

Takeaways 

  • The on-demand platforms are serving families well during the pandemic with educational content and art-and-craft shows helping home-schooled kids.
  • Black History and diversity are amongst the projects the platforms would look at getting involved with.
  • The platforms are on the lookout to acquire big brands and little gems.

Children’s on-demand television has seen a huge rise in demand this year. Four representatives of companies that continue to feed the appetite of kids in the UK and territories through the world were on hand to talk to Chris Jarvis and explain what sort of opportunities are on offer to content providers.

 

Brenda Bisner, Chief Content Officer at Kidoodle.TV, described the service as a streaming app for kids; a safe alternative to YouTube. She said the priority is “safety for kids at the highest level with a hands-on approach.” All videos, including adverts, are watched before being available to stream, and although there’s an option to subscribe to avoid seeing adverts, most families opt for the free version. 

Kidoodle has been hiring more staff during the pandemic to cope with the 160% rise in demand. They are now available in 195 countries with a reach of hundreds of millions. To date they have been acquiring existing content, often big brands like ‘Paw Patrol’. There’s no pre-buying or commissioning, but there will be a Kidoodle original show launched in the coming months. Answering a question from a delegate, Brenda said they do accept videos made by kids, but they are aware of child labour laws and would be guided by these.

Miki Chojnacka described Hopster as a BAFTA-nominated preschool VOD platform that’s safe, ad-free, diverse and inclusive. They produce original content in-house and acquire existing content. Normally based in London, it’s currently being run from people’s homes. They’ve been busy producing new content during lockdown to explain to young kids things like, washing hands, touching your face and what two metres looks like. They have a wide range of content, but Miki thinks that short form and music work best. They are looking for more content for Black History Month relating to Britain, such as the Windrush generation and role models, such as scientists, writers and actors.

Estelle Lloyd was cofounder of Azoomee back in 2015. Since then it has grown and acquired the educational channel, Da Vinci Kids. They now broadcast in 8 languages and have 2 main offices in London and Berlin with another in Istanbul and a small presence in the US. Azoomee caters for 5-8s and describes itself as having “hand-picked games and videos that kids love”. As with the other speakers, this year has been very busy, with a 400% increase in activity. They have a linear channel with Da Vinci, which caters to 6-12s and can reach 60 million children. They produce originals for both aAzoomee and Da Vinci. To date, originals have been made in-house, but they can now start to look for co-production opportunities. They would want to see projects that are at least at the pilot stage. “Fun and learning are the two key words we look for,” said Estelle.

Lucy Murphy is the Director of kids’ content at Sky. She looks after the content they acquire or commission for the Sky kids’ app. There are 90 mobile games available, and all video content can be downloaded from the app. Viewing is up, but family needs have changed, so educational content, including that from BBC Bitesize has been pushed to the fore. Arts and crafts shows are doing well, and ‘FYI’, the weekly kid’s news show, has been kept on throughout the pandemic. As for commissioned work, Lucy is fortunate that lockdown hasn’t impacted too much on the slate. They’ve worked hard to produce safely within current health guidelines. They try to balance things with British shows, as the partner channels on Sky (such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network) have a lot of American content. Their acquired shows are often the big brands, but Lucy added that they are looking for the little gems as well. 

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Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor

Writer

Simon studied Animation at Farnham, and, more recently, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid 1980s. As a writer, Simon has co-written and created several shows including Milkshake’s 'Funky Valley'. As a director and… Read more