Report – Comissioner Conversations, 6-12
- CBBC’s move to digital will not affect commissioning hours or spend.
- Nickelodeon is looking for ideas that are bold, messy and punchy.
- CITV is actively looking to work internationally, to cover the gap in funding left by the end of YACF.
- Original programming for the Sky Kids platform should complement rather than be competition for existing programming.
Joe Godwin introduced this year’s panel of children’s content commissioners, who were optimistic about the future of the sector despite the recent news about CBBC going online and the end of the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF). They were Sarah Muller (CBBC), Chris Rose (Paramount), Paul Mortimer (CITV) and Ian France (Sky Kids).
CBBC had just been named Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards for its ‘compelling content that improves children’s lives’. Sarah (CBBC) reassured the audience that this isn’t going to stop. She thinks that today’s children are the most sophisticated and informed in history, using streaming to self-curate content. CBBC is to remain a linear channel for the next three years at least and the government completing broadband roll-out will be crucial for the implementation of the online plan. There will be no fall in hours commissioned, no fall in investment. Content is their super-priority.
They are looking for new animation to produce through the BBC Ignite initiative. Through this system, they will look to take 50% of the rights, as well as the normal duty to the licence payer for value for money.
Chris (Paramount) ran through the channels now on their streaming service, Paramount+, as well as linear. This includes Nicktoons, with non-stop animation, and their flagship channel, Nickelodeon. He believes that great ideas can come from everywhere and anywhere. They are looking for brand new shorts with the potential to become full series. Ideas that are bold, messy and punchy. They like to see ideas at as early a stage as possible. Stories set in a kid’s world… but better.
‘Broadcasting is now passé,’ said Paul (CITV), announcing that his job title now made him responsible for ‘media and entertainment’. With a new streaming service, including a dedicated kids’ area, due to be launched by ITV in November, Paul sees more of CITV’s content being consumed online. He was concerned the ending of YACF would impact new content, saying that scripted live-action on the channel had only been made possible because of the funding. They are actively looking at working internationally to fund new content. The audience demographic is like a mini ITV: big in Scotland, the North East and central England, with a skew towards boys. The programmes reflect this – CITCVis a place where they like to be a bit more cheeky. They show a mixture of original and acquired content. Paul’s favourite show at the moment is the RTS winner, The Rubbish World of Dave Spud.
Ian (Sky) explained that the Sky Kids platform included all the children’s programming shown on Sky – ‘a busy platform for all the best shows in one place, with easy family settings to keep kids safe’. Original programming should always complement existing content from their partner channels, such as Nickelodeon and the free-to-air channels. They look for niche areas but don’t go for game shows or anything else that doesn’t warrant repeat viewing. Ian thinks that during the pandemic, children relied on media to be their friend and that there were a lot of fan bases to tap into, so they can commission into trends.
As for discoverability, Joe used the analogy of buying a cheese grater online and then finding Instagram thought he wanted to buy a whole lot of other cheese graters. Was this the same for finding kids’ content in the digital world?
Sarah said that CBBC would remain linear for the time being to attract as many eyeballs as possible. Ian and Paul thinks that the Key Art – the title image – was key.
The panel members said that all their submission details were on their respective websites, but it never hurts to email in person.
Director of Reality Commissioning & Acquisitions and Controller, ITV2, ITVBe & CITV
Head of Commissioning and Acquisitions 7+
VP Production and Development, Kids & Family
BFI, Young Audiences Content Fund
Head of Fund
Kids TV and Content Specialist