Report – Commissioner Conversations, Pre-school

Posted on: Wednesday 06 July 2022 2:53pm by Cate Zerega


  • The best commissions are child-centred.
  • ‘Broadcast sensibility’ is still important across platforms.
  • Kids are brilliant at self-curation and are good at discovering ‘known’ IP.
  • Shows that stand out on busy platforms are more likely to win commissions.


Host Tiernan Douieb asked the panellists to begin by summarising their commissioning priorities:

  • Paramount’s Louise Bucknole began with Channel 5’s Milkshake!, which provides kids content for two- to five-year olds every morning with 60% of the productions coming from regional producers. Additionally, Nick Jr. commissions franchise IP content that will ‘grow with kids from nappies to baggie jeans’.
  • Sean Henry of Warner Bros. shared that Cartoonito reaches 160 million households globally. The platform is increasing investment in the Middle East and Africa, seeking local stories to bring to a global audience.
  • Estelle Hughes, Sky Kids, commissions under the motto ‘Always On, Always Up’ because the content is entirely on-demand. Estelle seeks content that complements rather than competes with Sky’s extensive on-demand library. She said that known IP is most successful in ‘discoverability’ with the pre-school audience.
  • BBC Children’s Kate Morton is building the offering on iPlayer, where children self-curate. The BBC is able to closely track that diverse content is reaching minority audiences. Because the audience is huge, there is no blueprint for a typical show; however, the most successful shows reflect diverse and inclusive makers.
  • Matt Rennie of WildBrain Spark pointed out that the company’s content lives on YouTube, so it is commissioning across 247 countries in 40 languages. While the inventory of content is infinite, it is bound by algorithm, but Matt’s found that content produced for the platform works best.

Tiernan then asked the commissioners what they are currently hoping to find. Louise stated she is looking for shared viewing experiences and to capitalise on children’s interest in sustainability, as well as projects around animal care and nurture. Sean seeks ‘recognisable’ stories with humour at their centre. Kate needs stories with the child at the centre of the story, and would love more music in the pitches. Matt needs digital media with a broadcast sensibility. And Estelle needs content that stands out on a busy platform and is looking for pitches on the topics of fitness, wildlife, action-adventure comedy, and gaming IP that fits with SkyGlass.

Tiernan finished the conversation asking the commissioner what is working for them and why. Sean stated that many voices are integral to Cartoonito’s development process, so Sean likes creators who come with a plan so they can give the creator what is needed. Estelle has been asking, ‘Why Sky?’ How will this content stand out on a busy platform? Kate enjoys finding real, diverse family stories where the warmth floods through the screen. Matt has found success in IP that can get up and running quickly and can incorporate his data into production. Louise knows that anything that kids will draw a picture of is resonating with them. Nick Jr. favours character-driven storytelling, while Milkshake favours live action and messy play.

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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