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Smart thinking from the people running the content business.

Julien Borde on a ‘golden age of animation’

Mediawan Kids & Family president Julien Borde discusses how anime, AVoD, ‘glocal’ content and 360-degree IP are contributing to a thriving animation business.

Julien Borde

How will the streaming boom and influx of AVoD/FAST platforms continue to impact the business?
The kids’ business has been and will continue to be positively impacted by streaming and AVoD. Kids and family content is among the best assets to prevent subscriber churn and generate loyalty and engagement to AVoD offers. Kids need to find the content they love wherever and whenever they want. Streaming, AVoD and FAST provide them with more opportunities to find easily what they need. Every new kind of exploitation is adding a level of complexity in terms of deals but is worthwhile as reaching eyeballs is critical to building IPs.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for kids’ TV in 2023?
Freemium offers, which seem to be the next big step for nearly all the SVoD giants, and some free-to-air broadcasters mixing ad-supported and subscription under the same service, will be challenging in terms of rights but will also offer new opportunities to our IP partners to advertise where kids consume content in a qualitative environment.

With consumption fragmentation and the video content tsunami, it’s harder and harder for broadcasters and streamers to reach strong ratings with so many services proposing kids’ content and the competition from gaming and social network shortform content, not to mention Web3 also competing for the attention of older kids. Though in Europe some traditional broadcasters still manage to reach very strong ratings, especially in France and Germany.

We have many positive trends to continue to grow and create. The appetite for animation is high and streamers and traditional broadcasters are more open than ever to a wide variety of diversified content targeting different demos. It’s the golden age of animation and innovation.

What programming trends do you expect to see this year?

With the boom of anime, comes the anime-adjacent segment – animation influenced by Japanese anime but not produced by Japanese studios. We showcased our first anime-style project, Ki & Hi, based on a bestselling French manga, at Cartoon Forum in Toulouse last year and have had a great response.

The incredible success of digital-first IP is also inspiring and motivating. It’s a great way to incubate, generate success and then bring it to new audiences via traditional players.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir

The demand for ‘glocal’ content is also very high in kids and adult animation – that is, locally based stories enjoyed by worldwide audiences. Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, coproduced by Method Animation and Zagtoon is the perfect blueprint for that trend. The French animation talents are well positioned to meet the needs of the market for strong and innovative storytelling.

How will Mediawan Kids & Family be changing its strategy to adapt to the new landscape in 2023?
Mediawan Kids & Family comprises Method Animation, Joann Sfar’s Magical Society, ON Classics, Elliott Studio and Somewhere Animation. Our ambition is to bring the best kids and family content originated by European talent to worldwide audiences. In 2023, we will be joined by new talent and new labels to strengthen our editorial offer and bring more unique stories to kids and families in animation and live action.

We are producing six animated series (Petronix Defenders, Pirate Academy, Robin Hood season four, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir season five, The Little Prince & Friends and The Three Musketeers) and are developing four major new IPs at Method Animation (Witch Detectives, Ki & Hi, Astroboy and The Magic Roundabout).

Our newest labels are ramping up with fresh new live-action series for tweens at Elliott Studio and the first cooking show at Somewhere Animation based on the digital phenomenon Chefclub. ON Classics is also producing the new movie by Sylvain Chomet, The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol, following the release last year of The Little Nick – Happy as Can Be.

How will demand for content evolve in 2023?
Streamers and broadcasters are still on the hunt for the best content and there are many different business models to partner with them. We have noticed some partners opting for the fewer/better strategy, focusing on less content and shorter series. The demand for real 360-degree IP is also strong and broadcasters and toy manufacturers are looking for the next big thing, which is not so easy to establish in such a fragmented environment.

We have managed to build, with our partner Alpha, a very solid launch plan for our new preschool series Petronix Defenders, which we are launching in more than 90 territories with broadcasters and platforms including Gulli in France, Germany’s Super RTL, Italy’s DeA Kids, Discovery Lat Am and YouTube Kids in the US.

How will consolidation change things this year?
Consolidation is not an issue if the business models and demand for content remain diversified. We are lucky to work in an industry in which new clients are added to the traditional ones.