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OTT players reveal kids’ wish lists

MIP JUNIOR: Bosses from the new breed of digital buyers, including a UK service due to launch in 2016, have outlined their programming needs as they continue their pursuit of kids.

Leading OTT players such as Amazon Studios presented their business and editorial acquisition strategies in Cannes earlier today, alongside smaller outfits such as Hopster from the UK and Icflix Media in the Middle East.

Also among the other digital players present on the opening day of Mip Junior today was London-based Azoomee, which is preparing its own SVoD service for 5-9 year-olds.

Lucy Murphy, the company’s outgoing creative director and head of content, is here ahead of her departure later this month to join European satcaster Sky as its first head of children’s content in November.

She told C21 Azoomee, which puts a big focus on internet safety and has partnered with UK kids charity NSPCC, aims to launch with around 200 hours of content in the first quarter next year.

It is currently in discussions with a number of broadcasters for programming across a number of genres, including live action and animated comedy, drama, action adventure and factual, Murphy added.

It has already acquired Art Ninja (10×30′), the UK children’s factual entertainment series in which kids are taught how to make art from household items.

Murphy stressed that Azoomee is keen to have a global programming strategy and that the content can come from anywhere. She has also commissioned a number of arts and crafts tutorials, with bigger commissions due once the company has reached “critical mass.”

Azoomee was founded by entrepreneur Estelle Lloyd last year with the aim of “reinventing the internet for kids.” It is currently searching for a replacement for Murphy, who leaves in two weeks.

Elsewhere, Tara Sorensen, head of kids programming at Amazon Studios, told delegates that she is on the lookout for animated series targeting 6-11s in early stages of development.

“I want to see something that I haven’t seen before, that’s kid relevant and parent approved,” Sorensen said.

Meanwhile, Carlos Tibi, founder and CEO of Icflix, said that he is open to localising formats in both Arabic and French, as the service is also available in parts of Africa.

Tibi is also searching for animated series, which can be finished or in their early stages of development, aimed at all kids, from preschools to older children.

Finally, Hopster CEO and founder Nick Walters told delegates that finished programming, rather than original commissions, was still its priority.

However, Walters added that the company is in the process of developing interactive elements around original IP, while claiming to leave producers with more ownership of their brand than a traditional broadcaster would.

“We don’t need to take exclusivity, so we’re not going to take all your rights. We’ll leave a rights holder in a much stronger position than if they were working with a broadcaster,” Walters said.

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