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Cartoon 2021 – Cartoon Business

Rapporto industria: Animazione

Quale futuro attende le emittenti pubbliche lineari che producono e commissionano contenuti animati?


A Cartoon Business, tre esperti hanno condiviso parti delle loro strategie editoriali rimodellate, in risposta al ruolo crescente delle piattaforme e ai più recenti cambiamenti nei consumi

Quale futuro attende le emittenti pubbliche lineari che producono e commissionano contenuti animati?
Benjamin Manns (sullo schermo), Christophe Erbes, Yago Fandino Lousa e Daphné de Beaufort durante la discussione (© Cartoon)

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This week, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is hosting the new edition of Cartoon Business (8-10 December), a top-level seminar focusing on key strategies for studio growth and business development in European animation.

The second panel held on day 2 explored the future of pubcasters as the commissioners and producers of animated content, and how they are reshaping their strategies in response to the growing role of digital platforms and the most recent shifts in consumption, which see a steep decline in the number of children watching linear television. The event, titled “How Do Traditional Linear Broadcasters See the Future?” and chaired by Christophe Erbes, saw the participation of Yago Fandiño Lousa, of Spain’s RTVE; Daphné de Beaufort, of France’s TF1; and Benjamin Manns, of Germany’s SWR/ARD – DE (who attended remotely).

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After introducing himself and the three speakers, Erbes gave the floor to Fandiño Lousa, who highlighted that at the children-orientated Clan, they are currently rethinking their editorial strategies for the years 2022-2025, in response to the increasing difficulty inherent in intercepting audiences aged 8+ (a target defined as “a wild frontier”) and the overwhelming growth in OTT services recorded in 2020. “We don’t have a metaverse yet, but they’re [children] in their own metaverse,” he argued. In this respect, he mentioned the importance of video games and digital platforms such as Twitch, which is somehow replacing the role once played by radio. These transformations imply the necessity for Clan to rethink what young-adult content is, since said segment is still significantly underexploited. Over the last five years, Clan has co-produced 19 animated shows and is currently in negotiations for 12 more, shifting to new audiences, rather than just focusing on pre-school, as it did in the past. Most of these projects are international co-productions with European countries (France, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Russia and Portugal) and Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina). According to Fandiño Lousa, Latin American talents, in particular, are proving to possess a great “mix of creativity and new approaches to storytelling”. For the next three years, Clan will aim to produce music shows with a focus on digital distribution for the 0-3 target market; stories featuring charming characters and music with a primary focus on entertainment and a secondary one on values for the 4-6 segment; humorous fantasy stories with a fresh, stylish vibe for children aged 6-8; and “stories close to the real world”, created and developed by Generation Z artists.

In her contribution, de Beaufort said that French pubcaster TF1, similarly to other competitors, is now facing a series of “threats”. She pointed out how the total TV views in France have been decreasing for several years now, in particular for audiences aged 4-10 (-7% since 2019), and how the TV advertising spend is also shrinking and not being compensated for by the digital spend. She added that worldwide players are “hunting” series’ talents and asking for exclusive and first-window rights, and that major studios are increasingly retaining rights for their own platforms. These trends are resulting in having less content available on the market for the first window. While many opportunities remain at the local level, these changes are making the international field more and more competitive. The answer to these challenges would be “creating rich, global services for kids”, she said. To do this, however, a series of actions and plans need to be put in place. Some of these include intercepting kids all day long through their consumption patterns, focusing on high-quality, diverse content for large audience segments, offering a “rendezvous” programming strategy to involve both kids and their families, creating a strong brand capable of “sharing positive vibes, generating loyalty and reassuring parents” as well as promoting serialised content through TF1’s media ecosystem. Despite its fragility, TV is still the leader for kids, and the most recent slate of productions targets audiences aged 5-10, with a special focus on the 6-8 segment. Among the implemented strategies, de Beaufort underlined the abundance of gender-neutral characters, the presence of new mascots to increase brand identity and introduce the pubcasters’ core values and promises (“adventure, emotion, friendship and fun”), several efforts to stimulate co-viewing (TFOU is particularly successful in attracting mothers and kids), and the potential of TFOU MAX, which launched in February 2015. She also mentioned the pubcaster’s recent work on podcasts, and while this initiative is not particularly interesting “business-wise”, it does help to “build brand awareness”. Alongside podcasts, the company is also working on self-promotion on social-media channels, and developing the activities of its licensing and music divisions. Finally, TFOU’s first 2,500 m² theme park was inaugurated in Paris last September, and the group aims to open new ones in the coming years.

Manns welcomed the recent industry changes, as he sees them as great opportunities to reach out to younger audiences, who are finding linear broadcasters, especially public ones, less and less attractive. He explained how complex the system of public children’s channels is in Germany. One-third of the content is being provided by ARD, one third by ZDF, and the last third by the KiKA department. The idea is “to meet children at eye level”, adopting a “show me” or “let’s explore” approach, rather than following a teacher-student dynamic. The main goal is to provide entertaining, diverse content, while educating, stimulating and empowering children. Ideally, these stories should be culturally connected to Germany (so that they can be appealing for local audiences) and should have the potential to be great co-viewing experiences. In his contribution, Manns added how important it is to support regional producers (often smaller studios that are rich in creativity) and to make a difference by experimenting and initiating new formats.

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