2016 Kids’ Content Trendsetters

World Screen, in partnership with MIPCOM, is holding its second annual Kids’ Content Trendsetter Awards to honor four individuals who have made significant contributions to the children’s television business.

The honorees represent children’s services that are leaders in one market, as well as channels that are seen around the world: Laurence Blaevoet of Canal+, Tara Sorensen of Amazon Studios, Sarah Muller of CBBC, and Marc Buhaj of Disney XD. All are keen to innovate and offer their viewers shows they haven’t seen elsewhere.

These four television professionals will take part in the panel What Do Channels and Platforms Want? at MIPJunior on Saturday, October 15, from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Conference Room at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez. World Screen’s group editorial director, Anna Carugati, will moderate a lively discussion that will focus on identifying ideas for shows and multiplatform content for today’s media-savvy children.

***Image***Laurence Blaevoet
Director of Youth Unit
Canal+ Group

As director of the youth unit at the Canal+ Group, Laurence Blaevoet oversees three channels that are part of the French pay-TV company. Canal+ Family targets children 3 to 12 six hours a day with animated series and also with movies that appeal to the entire family. Piwi+ serves the younger 3 to 6 age group with programming that consists mainly of animation with endearing and funny stories featuring brave and friendly heroes. TéléTOON+ is aimed at 7- to 11-year-olds with shows that empower youngsters, make them laugh and feature life’s everyday heroes, as well as with adaptations of French literature, mainly comic books. Acquired and co-produced product, which makes up 90 percent of the three channels’ schedules, comes from around the world. Recent acquisitions include Talking Tom and FriendsNowhere BoysBob the BuilderNoddy and Topsy and Tim; while recent co-productions include My Knight and Me with TeamTO/Thuristar; Molang with Millimages; and Petit Poilu with Dupuis.

***Image***Tara Sorensen
Head of Kids’ Programming
Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios produces for the premium subscription streaming service Amazon Prime Video. As head of kids’ programming, Tara Sorensen is tasked with overseeing the development and production of original series as well as the acquisition of product targeted to preschool and 6- to 11-year-old children. While Sorensen and her team are primarily focused on original productions—and Amazon tests pilots in an original way, by taking into consideration feedback from customers—she will acquire and co-produce series if they are either visually distinct or rely on a fresh storytelling approach. All of Amazon’s children’s programming is presented in a half-hour format, either as one 22-minute show or two 11-minute episodes back to back. The service considers a wide range of styles, from animation, live action, stop motion or hybrids, but does not look for short-form content. Recent acquisitions include Thunderbirds Are Go and the world debut of Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas.

***Image***Sarah Muller
Creative Director of Scripted, Animation
and Co-Productions
CBBC Productions

CBBC is one of the children’s services of the British public broadcaster BBC. Serving children 6 to 12, CBBC’s goal is to offer innovative, challenging and buzz-worthy programming that reflects its diverse audience. The channel airs seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and its programming is also available on the CBBC iPlayer, website and YouTube channel. While wanting to open new worlds to kids and make them laugh and think, CBBC takes its public-service remit seriously, as demonstrated by several of its most popular brands: Horrible HistoriesThe Dumping GroundOperation Ouch!Dixi and My Life. Sarah Muller, the creative director of scripted, animation and co-productions at CBBC Productions, is constantly on the lookout for content. She has overseen a number of co-productions, including The Worst Witch with ZDF; Danger Mouse with FremantleMedia Kids & Family; and Strange Hill High with FremantleMedia Kids & Family in association with Factory.

***Image***Marc Buhaj
Senior VP of Programming and
General Manager
Disney XD

Part of Disney Channels Worldwide’s portfolio, Disney XD is a basic-cable channel and multiplatform brand. While aimed at kids 6 to 11, it super-serves boys with a mix of live-action, animated and lifestyle programming in the form of series, movies or short-form content. Disney XD’s content appears on television, online and on mobile and VOD platforms. Although Disney XD is committed to producing brand-defining original productions, they are supported by acquisitions and co-productions, which are sourced by Marc Buhaj, the senior VP of programming and general manager of the channel, and his team. Buhaj oversees Disney XD in the U.S. and supports the original content development and acquisition strategies for Disney XD channels around the world. Recent acquisitions and co-productions include Right Now Kapow with Warner Bros. Animation; Counterfeit Cat, commissioned by Disney XD EMEA and TELETOON and co-produced by Tricon Kids & Family and Wildseed Studios; and Fangbone! with Radical Sheep Productions and Pipeline Studios in association with DHX Media.