TV Kids Pioneer Award: Adina Pitt


Adina Pitt, VP of content acquisitions, partnerships and co-productions for kids and family in the U.S. at Warner Bros. Discovery, outlined her programming strategy at the TV Kids Summer Festival this morning before being presented with the TV Kids Pioneer Award.

Pitt was interviewed for her keynote by TV Kids’ Anna Carugati. You can watch the session, in which Pitt reflects on her career in children’s media, here.

“To those of us who have dedicated our careers to the kids’ industry writ large, it’s a calling,” Pitt said. “We are part of a community that stays through the good, the bad and the ugly, all in service of the greatest audience: kids. One of the greatest things about them is that they always say what they think and mean what they say. That’s a tough audience because they will let you know in real time how they feel, what they like and what they don’t like. There’s something refreshing about that honesty. And it keeps us all innovating because they expect us to up our ante with everything we do. As the world becomes even more complicated, I think there is no greater time to serve this audience with safe, entertaining, memory-making content. We are needed now more than ever.”

Offering advice to content creators looking to engage young audiences, Pitt noted, “We have to be everywhere kids are. As big companies, we’ve been trying to diversify how we create content, where it starts, where it finishes. And we’re always troubleshooting. I can only imagine how difficult it is for somebody just starting. But kids are everywhere, so the chances of you grabbing them somewhere are good. The question is, are they going to stay? What is the stick-to-itiveness of that audience wherever you deploy your content, and what do you do with that?”

Pitt also encouraged producers to seek out partnerships. “It is such a fragmented business right now, and there is so much content available that you need to rely on people with expertise in the global marketplace and try not to be a hero. You do yourself a much better service if you ask for help and strategize with people who have been doing it for a while.”

On the elements she looks for in content propositions, Pitt said, “We want to make sure that there is an authentic, diverse way of telling the story. If you’re going to feature characters that are either visibly or invisibly diverse, then that should be represented on and off the screen and be part of the development and production process. We always talk about wish fulfillment in the characters that we’ve created. We want the viewer to identify with an experience or a character or, hopefully, more than one character, and say, I want to be that person, or I want to be that creature, and I want to have that experience. That’s what keeps, as we used to say, ‘bums on seats,’ everybody together and enjoying. It’s harder to innovate. We tend to lean in favor of legacy IP and the rebooting of those [brands]. Where do you make room to onboard new IPs? We always have to keep some sort of cadence, allowing the new to come in as we celebrate the classics.”

Carugati then asked Pitt about evolving attitudes towards exclusive rights. “The current climate that the kids’ media business is experiencing globally has enabled the conversation about non-exclusivity to happen. It’s exciting because it protects the IP and allows for more discoverability of that IP the more places you deploy it. I think that’s going to be the new normal for a while. And it needs to be, with less money and less need for content in the marketplace.”

The need for co-produced or jointly financed programs has also increased, Pitt said. “The U.S. isn’t party to government funding like some treaties exist in other countries. For Canadian, French and Australian companies to get some shows off the ground, it’s super beneficial to partner with other countries to get the funding they need. It allows for more content to be produced. And by the way, by more content, I don’t even mean more shows—even more episodes within that one series. We were seeing a decline in the number of episodes being ordered because the costs were going up so astronomically. When I started in the business, it was standard to have 52 half-hours as a one-season pickup. That became 26, then 13. Now it’s going down to six or eight. Something had to give. Now, this whole idea of co-producing is the right way to go. And creatively, it allows other voices in that room. If we’re going to say we want something diverse, then you have to have a variety of voices; it can’t just be your voice in the room, and co-producing allows for that.”