Nathalie Pinguet, Superights’ deputy general manager of sales and acquisitions, talks to TV Kids about the success of Pat the Dog and why there’s reason for optimism in the kids’ media market.
Cartoon comedies designed to appeal to both boys and girls across the kids’ and older preschool sets are proving their value in sales for Superights. There is perhaps no greater example of the success of this formula than Pat the Dog, the best-selling series in the company’s catalog that is currently in production for its second season.
Pinguet believes that the kids’ media market is fertile territory for more such successes. “The children’s programming distribution business is in very good health,” Pinguet tells TV Kids Weekly. “Linear channels are still [providing] very good opportunities and the nonlinear market is growing with new platforms day after day.”
While its often forecast that the propagation of on-demand platforms is bound to rattle the content business, Pinguet has found that, for now, linear broadcasters remain the first investors for Superights properties. But that doesn’t negate the reality that with the aforementioned rise of on-demand platforms, and the subsequent shift of consumer habits, the landscape is evolving.
Superights, for its part, is keeping up with the evolution. Earlier this month, the company secured a deal that will bring the highly saleable Pat the Dog, a co-production from Superprod and Animoka Studios, to the Mango TV digital platform in China this spring.
In kids’ content, though, not only is viewers’ access to programming changing, but so is the formatting of the programming itself. “Linear channels are still interested in classical lengths—like 11 minutes or 5 minutes. In the meantime, we see 7 minutes emerging,” says Pinguet, who explains that the volume of episodes is key for both broadcasters and streaming platforms alike. “Platforms are more open to very short durations—like 3 minutes and less—but also long episodes, such as 26-minute specials,” she adds. “Linear channels prefer standalone episodes, while platforms also like serialized series.”
Putting these insights into practice, the second season of Pat the Dog will feature 63×7-minute episodes. It also will include four half-hour specials: two of which will celebrate Christmas and Halloween, respectively, another for the summer holidays and a prequel that will re-create the first time that Lola met her titular pup, Pat. Further deepening its well of Pat the Dog content, Superprod is creating ten 90-second non-dialogue shorts about the show’s feline hero, Hoodie.
Inspired by a series of mobile games, Pat the Dog has sold well as an already established brand. According to Pinguet, though some broadcasters are still prioritizing known IP, it’s not the only route to success; a truly promising new idea still can bend a broadcaster’s ear as well. “If you have the chance to present a strong original concept with high production value and powerful scripts, broadcasters will trust you,” says Pinguet, who points to Superights portfolio newcomer Osmond—about the enchanting friendship between a young girl and a furry monster—as one such concept.
An important point for those making and selling kids’ programming to keep in mind, per Pinguet, is that while production values and budgets are increasing, broadcast budgets remain tight. This puts the onus on distributors to form more partnerships and close presales in good time. “Co-productions often remain an efficient way to combine key partners and countries,” Pinguet explains. “More sophisticated deals are also emerging and provide more resources to the producers we represent.”
As Pinguet sees it, the kids’ TV business is sure to experience some more growing pains as the shift toward multiplatform content continues. But there’s ample opportunity for growth ahead, she says—particularly in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, as well as in the nonlinear market in the U.S.—that could more than make them worth it in helping Superights reach new heights.