Hedda Bruessing, head of the media business at Dutch pubcaster NTR, talks to TV Kids about NPO Sales, the international sales arm of Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPO).
NPO’s international distribution department, NPO Sales, represents all Dutch public broadcasters and a number of independent producers. The division specializes in the sales and presales of documentaries, dramas and kids’ shows co-produced by pubcasters in the Netherlands. While NPO Sales distributes children’s series worldwide, its most important markets are France, Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia and Asia.
“Our best-sold documentary series is Full Proof, produced by the NTR,” says Hedda Bruessing, head of the media business at Dutch public broadcaster NTR. “This science series for children ages 7 to 12 drags science out of the classroom and takes experiments outdoors. Each episode is hosted by a different child from a different country in the world. It is educational and funny, and a child is in control.”
On the scripted side, NPO Sales is selling the youth drama Caps Club, about a group of kids who meet with each other in a secret tree hut to solve mysteries. “Caps Club offers action and suspense and shows what friendship will bring you,” says Bruessing.
Another highlight is The Sandwich Show, an edutainment puppet program aimed at youngsters age 6 and up and their parents. “The show is hosted by the character Fred Talking Head,” says Bruessing. “He runs the daily talk show in which he welcomes and interviews all kinds of guests. Behind the scenes, floor manager Berny tries to defuse the chaos. In an educational and funny manner, the show teaches children small lessons in life through the guests and the permanent characters.” The Sandwich Show also features an interactive online element that challenges viewers to help Berny prepare for the next day’s edition the night before.
NPO Sales handles the distribution of ready-made content, while the broadcasters themselves sell their TV formats. Among some of NTR’s current format highlights are The Best Friend Quiz, Studio Smart and The Doctor Corry Show. “The Best Friend Quiz is a dynamic daily quiz for kids ages 10 to 12,” says Bruessing. “In Studio Smart, ‘experts’ are giving answers on all sorts of questions and the children will have to decide if the story of the expert is false or true. In The Doctor Corry Show, Doctor Corry openly talks about puberty and sexuality.”
Regarding what buyers are looking for in a children’s show, Bruessing notes that it really depends on each individual channel. “We mainly serve content to the public broadcasters and platforms that are linked to [it]. They are looking for series with an educational value. Sometimes they have time slots available for documentary shorts and/or series. The content needs to offer something to learn and must have social importance brought to children in a light manner.”
In terms of trends in the kids’ space, Bruessing says: “The content that is currently being produced worldwide is more mainstream to reach a wider audience and mainly [consists] of series with a lot of volume. This enables a platform to build a sustainable relationship with its audience.”
Moving forward, NPO will produce additional live-action programming “to build a sustainable relationship with its audience,” says Bruessing. She adds: “Youth documentaries will remain important in the scheduling of NPO.”