Diversity, AVOD, funding models and the always important role of partnerships were key themes across this week’s TV Kids Summer Festival.
If you missed any of the sessions, catch up here.
All children have the right to see themselves on-screen. It’s a pretty basic proposition, but we’re not quite there in achieving that yet, viewers of the TV Kids Summer Festival heard this week. Diversity and inclusion was indeed a recurring refrain across all of the week’s sessions. We heard from PBS KIDS’ Linda Simensky, Rai’s Luca Milano, BBC’s Sarah Muller and DR’s Niels Lindberg about their efforts in this space during the In the Public Interest opening panel. ViacomCBS Networks International’s Maria Kyriacou discussed the organization’s “No Diversity, No Commission” policy on Monday. Mattel Chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz weighed in on Barbie’s “multiyear journey about diversity, inclusivity, equality.” A panel on Monday afternoon heard from Lion Forge’s David Steward II, Big Bad Boo’s Shabnam Rezaei and Safi Ideas’ Wa’qaar Mirza about the work they are doing to ensure diversity in everything they make. In Anatomy of a Hit, we heard from Fresh TV’s Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch and CAKE’s Ed Galton about the upcoming new season of Total Drama, which has enlisted a range of young, diverse talent to populate its writers’ room. On Wednesday, Sean Clarke, the managing director of Aardman, spoke about the studio’s diversity charter that intends to ensure inclusion within the organization and broaden the talent net.
Ever-evolving viewing trends among kids also took center stage throughout the week. Tom Ascheim, the president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics at WarnerMedia, talked about how Cartoon Network is both broadening its audience and maintaining its relevance with its Redraw Your World tagline and discussed the kids’ slate at HBO Max. Ayo Davis, executive VP of creative development and strategy at Disney Branded Television, discussed how her live-action approach at Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD differs from the one in place at Disney+. We also put a spotlight on AVOD, hearing from Nadine Zylstra, the head of family, learning and impact at YouTube Originals, in a keynote conversation about the strategy there. Our In the AVOD Stream superpanel, meanwhile, heard from WildBrain Spark’s Jon Gisby and Roku’s Ashley Hovey about how they are working with content and ad partners, and Jetpack Distribution’s Dominic Gardiner and Xilam Animation’s Charles Courcier on the challenges and opportunities of AVOD licensing deals.
Across the week, executives stressed the need for evolution—in storytelling, brand-building and financing. Vince Commisso, the president and CEO of 9 Story Media Group, discussed solving for awareness as more shows launch on streamers rather than linear platforms. WildBrain’s Josh Scherba, Guru Studio’s Frank Falcone, marblemedia’s Mark Bishop, Portfolio’s Joy Rosen and Atomic Cartoons’ Richard Goldsmith talked about how they are shifting their strategies amid changes in Canada’s funding mechanisms.
One element that hasn’t changed in the kids’ business is the crucial need for partnerships, creatively and commercially. Philippe Bony, the head of thematic and youth channels at M6 Group, touched on the importance of the company’s proposed combination with TF1. SLR Productions’ Suzanne Ryan, Super RTL’s Lisa Albers and ABC Australia’s Michael Drake spoke about how they came together with ZDF Enterprises and other partners on Space Nova. Mondo TV’s Luana Perrero and Toon2Tango’s Jo Daris weighed in on the value of their partnership on The Wee Littles, among other shows. Nicole Keeb articulated the crucial role of co-pros at ZDF as the pubcaster looks to meet the needs of its audiences on-air and online.
Accepting her TV Kids Pioneer Award, Keeb also highlighted the philosophy that keeps so many executives in the children’s media business. “It’s an honor to work for children; it’s the best audience in the world.”
Watch all of these sessions at TVKidsFestival.com.