TV Kids Pioneer Award: Maud Branly


Maud Branly, children’s acquisitions director and international TV channels children’s programming director at M6 Group, received the TV Kids Pioneer Award today after showcasing her content strategy at the TV Kids Summer Festival.

Branly’s remit includes Gulli, the M6 Kid block, Canal J and TiJi in France, as well as a portfolio of services in the Baltics and CIS, the Middle East and Africa. She spoke about her acquisition needs in a keynote conversation with TV Kids’ Kristin Brzoznowski, which you can view here.

The portfolio Branly works across includes free, pay and on-demand offers, including the DTT channel Gulli, which leads the French kids’ market, and the M6 Kid morning block. “Kids, whatever their age, can watch Gulli at any time of the day, and they will never find any unsuitable content,” Branly said. “Our leadership position is a great responsibility, and we are very committed to societal issues such as the environment and gender equality—all of our content represents these values.”

In the pay-TV space in France, Canal J serves the 6 to 10 set, while Tiji targets kids 3 to 7, Branly said. Internationally, there are Gulli and TiJi services in CIS and Baltics, with TiJi skewing slightly younger than its French counterpart. Gulli Girl features animation and live-action content. There’s also a Gulli Africa channel and Gulli Bil Arabi across the Middle East.

On how her acquisition strategy has evolved, Branly noted: “It is now more and more important to acquire ‘deep rights’ and to be able to propose the right combination between linear broadcast and nonlinear exploitation. We are looking for content that we can exploit across all our platforms without limits.”

Addressing the issue of exclusivity, Branly said: “It is essential for us to propose exclusive content for kids that they will find only on our channels and services. So yes, we are taking exclusive rights wherever we can and covering broader usage across VOD. Having said this, if a show is outstanding and already on pay TV or a [digital] platform, we are happy to be part of it anyway. We work on a case-by-case basis and have different approaches depending on the program.”

Branly said she has “diverse” acquisition needs, given her wide remit. “We are flexible and broadminded. We are always looking for high-profile content in live action and animation. We want well-told stories with fresh and funny designs.”

Gulli is home to several originals, as well as global franchises such as The Loud House, Pokémon and Alvinnnn!!! and the Chipmunks. “We are looking for shows that fit the Gulli DNA: comedy, laughter and based in reality so kids can recognize themselves.” Animated comedy is a key priority, but as the “positioning of Gulli is to target all the kids from 4 to 12, we’re also looking for preschool shows, live-action series, action-adventure, girls’ shows; we want to keep offering all kinds of content to our audience.”

For TiJi, Branly is focused on upper preschool shows targeting kids 5 to 7. “The channel is slightly more girly,” Branly said, with top performers like Polly Pocket and Spirit, but she is keeping an eye out for gender-neutral content. Canal J is an “action/adventure channel,” Branly said, serving as home to properties like Pokémon and Power Rangers. “We have a lot of big franchises.”

Across the board, “it is important to have a lot of volume,” she said. “It allows us to create big blocks of programs in the grid, and we can create brands in the long term.” Acquisitions that can run across the company’s geographical footprint are also important for Branly, she said.

Each of the international channels is also “tailor-made” for its local audience, Branly added. “We adapt the programming grid to the kids’ habits and school rhythm, and we acquire local content. On Gulli Africa, it’s 30 percent African content. So it’s finding the right balance between French animation, international blockbusters and local content.

Branly then talked about the success of the SVOD offering GulliMax. “We have reached almost 3 million subscribers in France. GulliMax offers all the universe of the channel and the favorite kids’ heroes, with more than 4,000 videos, without advertising. We do a lot of premieres of exclusive series and movies. Our competitors in the streaming business are international platforms that are general entertainment; they have very strong content dedicated to kids, but mainly they are general-entertainment platforms. With GulliMax, parents know that the programs are suitable for children.”

The service is also available in 22 African countries via Canal+.

Brzoznowski asked Branly about how M6 Group is expanding its presence on YouTube. “We are assessing all our rights situations and working on a strategy to develop our presence on this platform. We are looking at YouTube as a platform to bring our content to an even wider audience in a different format. For Gulli, it’s a great way to propose a complementary offer to our linear channel, as we want to provide lots of unique content that is not available on our other platforms.”

Branly also highlighted the success of Gulli Replay, its catch-up service. “Last year, we started to make AVOD acquisitions not related to linear rights; it worked very well. So acquiring for and developing the AVOD offer is definitely a priority for us.

For example, last year, we acquired a few shows for toddlers and serialized live-action series for kids 11 to 14. All these shows fit Gulli’s DNA, but they are more adapted to nonlinear exploitation.”

On the challenges ahead, while Gulli retains its lead in the competitive French kids’ market, “linear television is under pressure,” Branly said. “The ratings for all kids’ channels in Europe are decreasing. That’s the most important challenge we are facing. The other is the fragmentation of media usage. However, with our multiplatform approach, we have a strategy that is working well. We now have to find the right combination between linear broadcast and nonlinear exploitation. Linear is still engaging for kids because it exposes them to new shows; it’s easier, it doesn’t overwhelm them with too many options. It’s still very important to offer exposure on free TV to create awareness, and we have the expertise to take those brands and make them big. But kids want to access this content whenever they want without any limitations. We recently launched a new version of the Gulli app that is more modern and intuitive. They can access videos, but we also developed a gaming corner with mobile games based on the heroes of the channel and an audio corner with audio stories and podcasts. We think that on the linear side, there will be more and more co-viewing. Kids like to watch television with their parents or siblings. We see more individual viewing on the digital side for kids. So, there are two different evolutions: first, more co-viewing, and at the same time, more individual viewing on digital. With our various services, we can combine both ways of viewing.”