Report – Commissioner Conversations VOD

Posted on: Thursday 08 July 2021 11:21pm by Simon Bor


  • Sky Kids looks for content that complements rather than competes with their partner broadcasters.
  • Kidoodle should be regarded as a new revenue stream.
  • The UK is now a top-3 provider to Netflix, and in the past year, the platform spent a billion on UK production across the board.
  • Children should learn that it’s okay not to be okay, sometimes.

Two recurring themes cropped up in Tiernan Douieb’s discussion with VOD commissioners.  The first was the importance of their educational content during the pandemic, the second that their commissioned content often complements the global brands offered by some of their partners.

Lucy Murphy, Director of Kids’ Content at Sky, said that everything changed as the pandemic hit, but they still managed to get an edition of their news show, ‘FYI’, out each week. From a rapping teacher explaining the workings of a volcano in poetry to an alien learning to save electricity, they made a lot more educational content to complement the BBC Bitesize content that kids can access through Sky.

Lucy is interested in known IP but is always on the lookout for unknown gems, like ‘Dodo’, a series based on a student film: ‘We have music, drama and everything in-between to complement but not compete with our partner broadcasters such as Cartoon Network.’

Brenda Bisner, Chief Content Officer for Kidoodle, explained the popular app for children’s content owns the trademark for the line ‘Safe Streaming’. To make sure that the platform is a safe alternative to other services she said that the content was handpicked by caring people. Each programme is examined for anything that might be detrimental to the audience, such as bullying or profanities. Even the adverts are vetted, and there’s also an advert-free option. They take all kinds of content for the under 12s. She said that they were always looking for meaningful partnerships and to act as a new revenue stream. She added that they take the major IPs but loved those ‘great diamonds’ that soar to success out of nowhere.

Alexi Wheeler explained how Netflix had changed from being a predominantly US content platform in the past few years. The UK is now a top-3 provider and, in the past year, Netflix spent a billion on UK production across the board, with ‘Shark Dog’ being one of their new animation projects. Alexi had known the show from his Nickelodeon days, where it was developed. The idea for 2-minuters was extended to 7-minute episodes as they felt that would work best for Netflix. Alexi said that they like to play around with formats and didn’t look for the volumes that linear broadcasters might; 10 or 20 episodes work well.  As the pandemic took hold, they were able to mobilise. They didn’t shut anything down, but did pause and reschedule some work to ensure everyone was safe. Asked how to get in contact with the team, Alexi said he was happy to hear from producers through LinkedIn.

‘A lot has happened in the past year,’ said Macadenia’s Estelle Lloyd. Since the DaVinci platform was added to their Azoomee offering for the under 6s, they have reached 125 countries, and 16 million kids are watching their channels at any one time. They commission mainly short-form content, often educational, like ‘Electricity with Smorph’. An entertaining clip showed why it was not a good idea to get your toast out of the toaster with a metal fork.

They are looking for content relating to arts and crafts, coding, financial literacy and social emotional learning. Estelle added that it’s important to show kids that it’s ‘okay not to be okay, sometimes.’

The session concluded with a Changemaker video featuring Mateo Salvatto, a 22-year-old from Buenos Aires. He created the app Habalo, which has helped over 200,000 D/deaf people and people with other disabilities communicate for free. He explained his business model and his passion to “change the world” and called on CMC delegates to help!

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Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor


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