Ahead of Mipcom 2021, Katie Wilson, VP, Channels & Curation at WildBrain, spoke to TTV+ about the content she’s looking for in the international market.
TTVMedia, through its TTV+ platform and backed by Eccho Rights, presents its Buyers: What Are They Looking For? initiative to find out more about international buyers’ programming needs, ahead of the upcoming Mipcom 2021.
The interviews were conducted through the base of over 5,000 buyers registered on TTV+, a 24/7 online marketplace where buyers can look through catalogs from thousands of companies, and in which distributors can contact them to close businesses.
This time, we present Katie Wilson, VP, Channels & Curation at WildBrain
Is WildBrain going to be attending Mipcom?
As much as I’d like to travel to Mipcom this year, I will be attending digitally.
Is it due to the Covid restrictions or do you think the event might not be as big as other years?
I think for us it’s just being mindful of the travel restrictions and how that might change. For me it was about err on the side of caution, and attending digitally this year. We did that last year and it was successful for us. The decision was around uncertainty with travel restrictions and what that might look like.
Do you miss in-person events or do you think digital events work as well?
I will always miss in person events. There’s an energy about them that you can’t mimic digitally. We’re coming off the heels of going into our second year of doing this, so of course I’m yearning for in-person meetings. But I will say it was a good workaround. The digital markets that popped up over the past year, I was trepidatious about them, I wasn’t sure how they’d go. But actually, they were pretty good based on what I was expecting. I will always prefer in person but I think it’s a good workaround to have the digital markets. They definitely fill a void.
Which types of contents are you going to be looking for?
Because we are a kids and family broadcaster and we have four channels that we look to acquire content for, I’m specifically looking for family content. Live action or animation. We have a preschool channel so we’re always on the lookout for great preschool programming. I would say for the next year we have an eye on music, so anything that has some kind of musicality around it or is music based. But the big focus is prime time viewing on Family Channel, which is our largest channel at WildBrain. We’re pretty open to what that might look like. We’ve had a lot of success with unscripted content so if there’s something really amazing in the unscripted space that we feel would be great for co-view we’re always looking for that. And then of course live-action series geared towards kids, or kids and adults, and animation.
Do you think kids’ content has gotten more popular this past year?
I do and it’s been really interesting to watch. Kids’ content has always been popular, especially here in Canada, so integral to the linear TV business. But I would say there’s definitely a shift in family viewing. Kids’ shows and content for sure, but also shared-viewing opportunities. Content that offers families to come together and watch has been key, especially during the pandemic and lockdown. It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to be entertained.
Do you have any specific titles that have been successful during the quarantine?
I can speak to our channels. Unscripted, like I mentioned earlier, we’ve had a lot of success with it. We introduced a new show last fall called Get Out of My Room, which is an NBC Universal show, really great. It’s kids redoing their shared bedrooms with their siblings. We say great co-viewing with that show. It’s geared towards kids but there is something for adults to get out of it.
American Ninja Warrior Junior, I always bring that up as being a fantastic show and I think because it’s unscripted it offers something for every member of the family: there’s kids, it’s aspirational, there’s a lot of spills and thrills, and you can come in and come out and understand what’s going on without following it all the way through. I think during the past year and a half, that type of content has been crucial because it’s light and fun and non-committal.
Those are two great examples but we’ve also had great success with our orime time live action series. I always bring up Malory Towers, which is a co-production that’s done really well for us.
Great stories, great characters that bring in all members of the family is what we’re looking for.
Is animation also a big trend?
Animation will always be, especially this past year, a form of escape. You can get away with so much fantastical elements in animation, comedy and action and adventure. It offers an escape to kids and families. We’re the home of Miraculous Lady Bug and Cat Noir here in Canada and it’s been doing very well. We’ve seen the success in the ratings on linear channels.
How do you see this next year will be at WildBrain? Do you think we’ll every go back to normal or simply stay in this “new normal”?
I think it’s at the heart of a lot of the conversations we have. I started at WildBrain right at the height of the pandemic, so this is all I’ve ever really known here. But I will say in TV it’s been a lot of learning, shifts in habits and viewership, and for us as a team it’s nothing short of miraculous what we’ve been able to do. We’ve been able to pivot during times how we work has changed. As we look ahead we’ll hopefully start coming together and see each other more in person.
In TV viewing I think it’s anyone’s guess. Things have changed, habits have changed, it’s really unpredictable. One thing I will say is what I’ve noticed over the past year and a half is that it’s been a time of great productivity. Now more than ever we’re seeing more pitches and people coming to the table, creators and writers and they really took that time to think about how content is so important in the kids’ space. It’s been interesting to see how producers have creatively changed what they’ve been doing, even changing the way to produce to adapt to Covid rules. It’s been interesting to watch and I’m very impressed with how it’s been handled in Canada and how people have risen above it.