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De Agostini Editore’s Brenda Maffuchi


Among the assets of Italy’s De Agostini Editore are the children’s pay-TV channels DeA Kids and DeA Junior. Catering to school-aged children and preschoolers, respectively, the channels feature a broad range of acquired content alongside originals and co-productions. Brenda Maffuchi, who joined De Agostini Editore almost a decade ago and serves as head of acquisitions and property development, is responsible for analyzing, negotiating and managing all content acquisitions and all international co-productions for De Agostini’s channels in Italy. She talks to TV Kids about her buying remit.

***Image***TV KIDS: What role do acquisitions play on the channels that you oversee?
MAFFUCHI: We have two pay-television channels, and acquisitions play an important role. In fact, [if we talk about numbers], around 60 percent of our programming offer is made up of acquired content. We have a good balance between original productions, co-productions and acquisitions, but nowadays, acquisitions are more or less 60 percent of the programming offer every year. It’s more or less the same balance for both channels, so it’s quite important for us.

TV KIDS: What are some of the brand values or directives that you have to keep top of mind when sourcing programming?
MAFFUCHI: Our two pay-TV channels have really different targets, but the thing that is most important are the character-driven [stories]. That is an important asset that we will be looking for when we are searching for new content. Friendship and diversity are two things that we’re constantly looking at. We are not 100 percent educational, so entertainment is important in terms of balance.

These days, I don’t feel there are any no-gos because everything is changing so fast. We are independent, so we follow the trends of the market. Before, we were [always] producing our own preschool content, but in the last three years, we also started to acquire preschool, so I will never say no. As long as it is kids’ and family content, we will evaluate it. We change and adapt to the market, and the market is changing really fast. We evaluate everything and try to see what the trend will be in the next 12 or 18 months.

TV KIDS: In terms of genres or age demographics, what are you currently on the lookout for?
MAFFUCHI: For DeA Junior, which is mainly preschool with a lot of family co-viewing, we are always looking for big franchises, especially in animation. Everything that is live action on DeA Junior are mainly original productions; we use local talent to really connect with the families and the parents. With preschool content, we need the reruns to be a little bit higher. So, the rollout for DeA Junior is a little bit slower. The amount of new IP that we need every year is quite low in comparison to DeA Kids.

With DeA Kids, we reach kids 6 to 11 in terms of demographic but are really gender-neutral. This is quite a difficult target, especially every time you go near 11 to 12. It’s difficult to get them connected. We have a really good balance between live action and animation. We also produce a lot of live action for DeA Kids, but we are always looking for sitcom/comedy but not too much mystery because we need something that can be broadcast as many times as possible in order to engage with the audience.

The thing that we will be missing the most, even for this year—although we’re working on 2023 and 2024—are good animated comedies for 6 to 11s. It’s really hard to find that in the market. Kids these days, especially in that target, are really looking for that. But it’s not easy to find good comedy that will reach and engage immediately with the target. We are starting to go a little bit higher in terms of target. So, not only the 8 to 10s in terms of live action, but we’re trying to go a little bit more into drama, with the long-running series, to try to wait until 13, 14 years old.

We have the linear channels and the VOD platform. We have started doing a lot of strategies between the prelaunch on the nonlinear platform to then follow the full series on the linear channel, or the other way around. So, it’s not only about the content but also all the content that we can build around an IP to try to connect as much as possible with the kids on all the different platforms. It’s not only the 26- or 30-minutes or [however] many episodes a week we’d like to have, but it’s also all the things that we can build around to engage with the audience. From 9 years old to 12, it’s really difficult to keep them engaged as much as we would like to. This is what we’re trying to work on. We will be producing local game shows or entertainment formats for the target, with family co-viewing. This is something we are working on for 2023.

TV KIDS: With regard to exclusivity and rights, is this less of a make-or-break deal point, or is it still a hot-button negotiating issue?
MAFFUCHI: We are part of the Sky platform, so pay-TV exclusive is mandatory; it’s a must. The only thing we can have non-exclusively is VOD rights. Holdbacks are still quite important for us. Depending on the case, we will have between 6 to 12 months of exclusivity from the premiere of the content. So, those three—exclusivity, VOD rights and holdbacks—are mandatory. I know the market is changing a lot, but that is something that is important for us.

The European quota is important. We still have space for content that is not European, but the obligation, the percentage we need to cover, is getting higher. So, I think it will be the second, if not the first, question I ask when someone is pitching to me: Is it European content? We have a lot of rules to respect on hours covered between Italian content, European content and then the space we can leave for content that is not European.

TV KIDS: What advice can you share for producers or distributors looking to land programming on your platform?
MAFFUCHI: We appreciate it when we are having a meeting with someone and they show us that they have studied. They know who we are and say, We think this could fit with this program. We appreciate it when someone has taken the time to look into our DNA. It’s really appreciated when someone has taken the time to [research] and think about us and present a project that can go into our ecosystem. So, we really recommend to everyone who wants to pitch to us: Take the time to study who we are.






About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at kbrzoznowski@worldscreen.com.

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