BBC Children’s Commissioning in the Spotlight at Annecy


BBC Children’s Kate Morton and Sarah Muller outlined the commissioning and acquisition strategies for audiences 0 to 6 and 7-plus, respectively, during a session today at Mifa.

Morton, BBC Children’s head of commissioning and acquisitions for ages 0 to 6, and Muller, senior head of children’s commissioning for the 7-plus audience, each shared what they are looking for in programming targeting their respective demographics for CBeebies and CBBC.

The presentation highlighted some of the recent successes for BBC Children’s, including 2.2 billion streams for iPlayer, up 15 percent year on year; CBeeebies and CBBC being the leaders in the U.K. linear market; Bitesize notching up 1.5 million users per week; 3.2 million kids per week watching Newsround; and upwards of 1.75 million app downloads.

With regard to the 0 to 6 age group, Morton said: “What makes a CBeebies show is all about the heart. It’s all about the curiosity and the fun. We are entertainment-first, and every show has our preschoolers and their families at its heart. What really matters to us is authentic storytelling. We absolutely live the values of wanting to inspire, educate and entertain with real diversity and inclusion at its core, both on and off screen. The BBC has been at the forefront on this, and we’re very happy that we lead on this, telling fresh and engaging stories that reflect the real lives of our preschool audience.”

On her current wish lists, Morton said: “I’m looking for content for 4 to 6 and also 5 to 6. I’m keen on fast-paced, character-driven comedy—comedy that really observes what life is like for our audience, for our families, with a real sense of place and culture and stories that our audience can relate to and reflect their lives, whoever and wherever they are in the U.K. Yes, we’re keen on international appeal, but I’d like it to have a British twist. It’s very important to us that there’s a real sense of place and sense of relationship to our content. And I’m also interested in animation within live-action shows.”

Muller then spoke about the essence of a CBBC show. “We all know that the 7-plus audience is notoriously difficult to nail down in a world where there’s so much choice. So, for us and for animation, that means cool, funny, full of attitude and a strong, relatable worldview because we’re seeing more and more that the things that really resonate with children grow into the brands that they want to share within their lives. We want inspiring stories and strong characters. We’d like things to be unique and exciting. It goes without saying I’m looking for that British twist on the storytelling. For audiences with [so much] choice, we’re also increasingly looking for a way in for our audience so that they’ll be able to find it more easily than just stumbling across it, so we’re looking for successful books or characters or tie-ins to well-known people who are in the real world. Right from the beginning, we’re thinking about exactly how we’re going to build the brand once we’ve got it.”

As for what she’s looking for to satisfy this remit for the 7-plus demo, Muller explained: “We know that fast-paced comedy for 6 -to 9-year-olds that makes them laugh is very much what kids want. We are still dealing with a slightly traumatized post-Covid world where children just want to relax and laugh and feel better about things—so this is even more important to us than it was. Also, a British twist, but because for some of these bigger shows, we’re going to need partners, we’ll be looking for international appeal as well. We want premises that offer rich stories, and it could be comedy or jeopardy or a combination of all. We want things that serve the 10 to 12 audience, which we’re not quite landing on yet—it’s things like comic books and anime. A story arc with complex character journeys is something we’ve been looking for for quite a while. Kids are very much willing to invest in more detailed storytelling. We see that. That could be a point of difference for us at the BBC, where we work across multiple platforms and reach audiences in different ways.”