MIPJunior as we have all known it—the packed lobbies of the Martinez, Carlton or JW Marriott (or, for the old-timers, the Noga); the scramble to get a table; buyers spending hours on end in ballrooms converted into screenings lounges; the fabulous beachside parties—will not exist this year, with a compressed version of the event taking place alongside MIPCOM inside the Palais. But as those of us who are planning to be there fret over variants, testing, vaccine proof, QR codes and paperwork, it’s clear that kids’ media execs can’t wait to get back to business in person.
There is something special about the international kids’ community, isn’t there? It is its own little universe with friendships forged over many, many years of showing up in the same city every few months. Friendships that became partnerships (both the work and personal kinds). The casual conversation that became the deal that transformed your business. The intel gathered at workshops and panels (and, of course, afterparties) that helped inform a decision—leading you to make the right one and (hopefully) not the wrong one. The heavily European contingent that made it to Annecy and Cartoon Forum have already had a taste of what a return to live events feels like. From what I’ve heard, it’s not quite what it was, but just having a small taste of that bustling market energy was a blissful start.
And the kids’ business is at a fever pitch right now: lots of commissions, tons of new ideas and narrative techniques, a real attempt to embrace diversity and the promise of lucrative future revenues as AVOD expands—a sector we take a deep dive into in this issue with a special report from me and a Q&A with Common Sense Networks’ Eric Berger. We also hear about the keys to getting kids’ comedy right, given how in-demand that genre is. We spotlight brand-building plans, which these days must cross physical and online platforms. And we hear from some of the biggest names in the business, including Mattel’s Ynon Kreiz, WarnerMedia’s Tom Ascheim, Aardman’s Sean Clarke and more.
Putting this issue together, I was struck by the diversity in styles, narrative techniques and, critically, characters’ backgrounds and abilities in kids’ TV today. Outside of the Amar Chitra Katha comics I would devour during long, hot summers in Bombay, I never saw stories from my life reflected anywhere. (And yay—those comics are finally being adapted for TV now!) Progress has been hard-fought and we’re not where we should be yet, but I’m thrilled about how far the industry has come. If I’d had that Disney Channel movie about the Indian-American girl who wants to be a DJ when I was a confused teen figuring out who I could be, I might have ended up on an entirely different career path! Commissioners and producers, please don’t forget that these stories, in our formative years, do actually make a world of difference. (If you’re reading this and have an amazing DJ name for me, I’m open to suggestions.)