Olivier Dumont, the managing director of Entertainment One (eOne) Family and eOne Licensing, tells TV Kids about some of the strategies for successfully rolling out brands.
The adventures of a cheeky little piggy named Peppa have captivated young viewers (and parents alike) the world over. Indeed, the Peppa Pig brand has become a bona fide phenomenon in the preschool space, with its global success translating into big business for eOne Family and eOne Licensing. The company’s portfolio also boasts the action-infused PJ Masks and co-viewing hit Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, among other properties, which kids are connecting with on-screen and through a myriad of L&M touchpoints, including in the digital arena.
TV KIDS: What is your strategic approach for maximizing discoverability with the eOne Family brands?
DUMONT: For preschool properties, broadcast is still the spark that gets the brand going. Ratings have fallen a lot more for older-skewing networks than they have for preschool channels because parents still need a safe place that they can expose their preschoolers to. Also, preschoolers are happier than older kids to allow mom and dad to decide what they should be watching. As a result, the power of preschool networks and blocks is still pretty high as compared to those for an older demo.
That being said, what we have found is that the power of digital is growing tremendously. It is much harder to get a brand discovered solely on digital, but digital acts as a catch-up system, or a brand can be discovered purely on digital if you have a friend or someone else who draws your attention to it. Nowadays, if you’ve heard about, let’s say PJ Masks, through a parent or friend, you can get a taste of the brand very easily by going on a tablet or mobile phone. The brand is, in essence, in everyone’s pocket. But you still need that spark [for discoverability], and this is why broadcast exposure is still very important for preschool brands.
TV KIDS: What are some of the lessons learned from the successful rollout of Peppa Pig that you’ve applied to other eOne Family brands?
DUMONT: What we learned on Peppa Pig is that the show becomes way more successful when you get a broadcaster to schedule a few episodes back-to-back—anywhere between three to four episodes is when we see the brand pick up very quickly in terms of desirability. When we open up a new market on Peppa Pig, it normally takes up to one year of exposure before the brand really takes off in licensing—before kids and parents start looking it up online or wanting the products.
We applied that formula somewhat on PJ Masks. The show is very aspirational, and as a result [the response] was way more immediate. We saw demand grow almost instantly after the show came out on Disney Junior in the U.S. It went on air in September 2015, and by October 2015, for Halloween, there were already lots of parents making their own PJ Masks costumes and posting about them on social media. That was something we hadn’t seen happen for Peppa in terms of how fast the program developed. That speaks to the fact that PJ Masks is a cross between a traditional preschool brand and an action-adventure show.
So, we haven’t really been able to apply that many of the [lessons] from one to the other. If anything, it shows that you need to treat each brand individually as opposed to applying the same recipe systematically. The overall strategy, though, is to build your brand exposure and make sure that kids and parents can find it, maybe even on a digital service, so that they can engage with it in as many ways as possible. As part of this, we’ve created a lot of [digital] experiences, with free apps and games online to make sure that kids and parents can connect with the show instantly, either when it’s not on the air or when they want more than just a purely linear experience. That’s something that we learned on Peppa that we applied to PJ Masks.
TV KIDS: At this point, are digital extensions more about the added brand connection and exposure than the potential for additional revenues?
DUMONT: We are trying to accomplish both. The app market for preschoolers is a challenging one. For older kids, while the paid-for market has gone down for apps in general given the amount of content available for free, the ad-supported system is working decently. You can’t advertise to preschoolers, so it’s much more challenging to monetize. With our hits like Peppa and PJ Masks, we still have a decent amount of sales on our apps, but it’s not as lucrative as it once was. You want to make sure that kids and parents have the possibility to engage with your brand via gaming and apps regardless of revenues, so you do need a certain number of free experiences to provide the audience. It’s about striking the right balance in terms of the number of brands that are available for free for exposure, and extensions and paid-for experiences that are a bit more sophisticated.
On Peppa Pig we have started exploring a subscription-based model. We created Peppa Pig World, which allows you to watch linear content, play games, read e-books, all in the same environment. We’ve done a soft launch of the app in two markets so far, and we are taking in the [lessons] from that and will probably do a global rollout later this year. That’s going to be an interesting new model. So far we’ve done straightforward sales or free apps, but this would be subscription-based, allowing kids and parents to have a much deeper experience with the brand as a result, with content that is refreshed every month.
TV KIDS: What are the core L&M propositions on a brand like Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom? And why has the live-event space, in particular, been a successful one to explore with this property?
DUMONT: The brand is extremely popular as a linear proposition for kids and parents, and the humor in the show is key. There’s a love of the brand in all the markets where it has launched, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into all of the licensing categories. Definitely, though, a live experience that both parents and kids can enjoy together is very much in keeping with the ethos of the brand. It is a family show; the presence of adults is an important part of the series. The amount of co-viewing on Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is very high. There are a few preschool shows that kids really love but their parents not so much; parents might recognize that it’s a great show for their kids, perhaps it’s even educational, but they don’t feel particularly compelled to watch it with them. Parents enjoy watching Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom because of the humor in the show; therefore, the entire family going to the stage show together is an appealing proposition.
TV KIDS: What’s currently on the development slate?
DUMONT: We have been looking for new shows to develop in different areas, and for a while, we didn’t find anything that we truly loved. Over the past six months, we have picked up at least four shows. Two of them are in a slightly older [age demographic], 6 to 9, and more girl-skewed but boy-inclusive. There are also two new properties in the preschool space, one of which is slightly more boy-skewed and the other more girl-skewed. Both are targeted for upper-preschool, more than the younger side of preschool, which we’re not as interested in exploring—we already have Peppa, which is uber-successful in that space.
TV KIDS: Is there anything you’re looking for in particular to add to the catalog?
DUMONT: We’re pretty set in preschool, and we’re now [targeting] older girls, but we’d love something in the action-adventure genre for boys—something that can compete in that space with a Ben 10 or a Ninja Turtles. It’s very, very hard to do; it’s uber-competitive! We have given a lot of thought about what can work and how, but we really need to find the right [property]. We’re open to pitches in that space.
TV KIDS: What are your priorities for eOne Family and eOne Licensing in the year ahead?
DUMONT: A priority is to expand PJ Masks everywhere in the world. With regard to Peppa Pig, we’d love to be able to launch the brand in Japan. We’re doing our best to try to find good exposure for the brand there; we’re taking lots of trips to that market and meeting with a lot of potential partners. We’re also launching a new preschool brand next year; we are just entering production on that one. It will be slightly more boy-skewing. It will go on the air in spring 2019 probably, but the first episodes will be available in spring 2018. The team is currently working on the key visuals and the look and feel of that brand.
We’re also in production right now on a series called Cupcake and Dinosaur. It is a co-production with a Brazilian company, Birdo Studio. It is the first time we are doing a co-production between Canada and Brazil. The series is created by Pedro Eboli, who has been noticed by quite a few broadcasters and the industry. We’re doing his first international show and are very excited about that.