Wednesday, June 09, 2021

ViacomCBS’s Maria Kyriacou to Take Part in TV Kids Summer Festival

Maria Kyriacou, the president of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) for Australia, Israel and the U.K., is set to take part in the TV Kids Summer Festival.

Kyriacou, pictured above, oversees all of ViacomCBS’s operations in the U.K. and Australia—which includes flagship brands Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, as well as free-to-air networks Channel 5 in the U.K. and Network 10 in Australia—with additional responsibility for Ireland, New Zealand and Israel.

During her keynote, Kyriacou will share her insights on the company’s thriving kids’ businesses in those markets and discuss its landmark “no diversity, no commission” policy.

The TV Kids Summer Festival, which is being held from June 7 to 10, will explore the challenges and opportunities facing the children’s content community today. The event, which is free to attend, will be streamed live and available on-demand on (Missed TV Kids' winter edition? Catch up on all the sessions here.)

Previously announced speakers include WarnerMedia’s Tom Ascheim, Disney’s Ayo Davis, Mattel’s Ynon Kreiz, Aardman’s Sean Clarke, M6’s Philippe Bony, YouTube’s Nadine Zylstra, 9 Story’s Vince Commisso, ZDF’s Nicole Keeb, Rai’s Luca Milano, BBC’s Sarah Muller, PBS’s Linda Simensky, DR’s Niels Lindberg, Total Drama Island creators Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch, CAKE’s Ed Galton, WildBrain Spark’s Jon Gisby, Roku’s Ashley Hovey, Jetpack’s Dominic Gardiner, Xilam’s Charles Courcier, WildBrain’s Josh Scherba, Guru Studio’s Frank Falcone, marblemedia’s Mark Bishop, Portfolio’s Joy Rosen, Thunderbird/Atomic Cartoons’ Richard Goldsmith, Lion Forge’s David Steward II, Big Bad Boo’s Shabnam Rezaei, Safi Ideas’ Wa’qaar Mirza, Sesame Workshop’s Ed Wells and Cookie Monster.

Registration will open on Tuesday, May 18.


TV Kids Summer Festival Agenda

Running from June 7 to 10, TV Kids Summer Festival is a FREE event focused on the major challenges and opportunities at play in the children’s media business today.

We have 35 fantastic speakers lined up for this event. You can see the full agenda below. The panels and keynotes will be available live and on-demand.

Don’t miss out on hearing insights from some of the kids’ content community’s leading producers, distributors, commissioners and creators.

Need to convert the times below for where you are? Click on the times above the name of each session to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Monday, June 7

9 a.m. EST
In the Public Interest
Covid-19 emphasized the importance of a strong educational core for kids’ television, and pubcasters are leading the way. This session will spotlight the strategies of PBS KIDS’ Linda Simensky, Rai’s Luca Milano, BBC’s Sarah Muller and DR’s Niels Lindberg.

10 a.m. EST
Keynote: Mattel’s Ynon Kreiz
Under Ynon Kreiz’s leadership as chairman and CEO, Mattel has stepped up its efforts to capture the full value of the company’s iconic IP portfolio, creating global franchises that extend beyond the toy aisle. Stay tuned for a sneak peek at Barbie & Chelsea The Lost Birthday immediately following the keynote.

11:30 a.m. EST
Keynote: YouTube’s Nadine Zylstra
The head of family, learning and impact at YouTube Originals, Nadine Zylstra will share how she is partnering with top YouTube creators and producers to develop hit original series for the platform.

12:30 p.m. EST
Keynote: ViacomCBS’s Maria Kyriacou
As president of ViacomCBS Networks UK and Australia, Maria Kyriacou will share her insights on the company’s thriving kids’ businesses in those markets—including Milkshake!, Nick UK and 10 Shake—and discuss its landmark “no diversity, no commission” policy.

1:30 p.m. EST
Changing the Face of Kids’ TV
Lion Forge’s David Steward II, Big Bad Boo’s Shabnam Rezaei and Safi Ideas’ Wa’qaar Mirza on how they are ensuring that kids’ television reflects the lives of all kids around the world.

3 p.m. EST
The Magic of Sesame Street
Sesame Workshop has been enriching the lives of children across the globe for more than five decades. In this fun session, we’ll hear from the iconic Cookie Monster, followed by a Q&A with Ed Wells, EVP and head of global media and education.

Tuesday, June 8

9 a.m. EST
Keynote: WarnerMedia’s Tom Ascheim
The president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, Tom Ascheim will provide an update on the latest developments at Cartoon Network and Boomerang, highlight the kids’ slate at HBO Max and discuss collaboration between Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation.

10:30 a.m. EST
Oh Canada!
WildBrain’s Josh Scherba, Guru Studio’s Frank Falcone, marblemedia’s Mark Bishop, Portfolio’s Joy Rosen and Atomic Cartoons’ Richard Goldsmith weigh in on consumption trends, financing challenges and global expansion.

12 p.m. EST
Keynote: Disney’s Ayo Davis
As executive VP of creative development and strategy at Disney Branded Television, Ayo Davis will discuss the live-action slate she oversees for Disney+, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.

1:30 p.m. EST
Panel & Premiere: ZDF Enterprises’ Space Nova
SLR’s Suzanne Ryan, Super RTL’s Lisa Albers and ABC Australia’s Michael Drake will discuss how the new animated co-pro came together ahead of the premiere of the show.

3 p.m. EST
Anatomy of a Hit
The Total Drama franchise has charmed kids across the globe. In this session, we’ll hear from Fresh TV’s Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch and CAKE’s Ed Galton on how the brand is still going strong.

Wednesday, June 9

9 a.m. EST
Keynote: M6’s Philippe Bony
The head of thematic and youth channels at M6 Group, Philippe Bony will outline the strategies the company has put in place to keep its market-leading portfolio at the forefront of the French kids’ sector.

10:30 a.m. EST
Keynote: Aardman’s Sean Clarke
The managing director of the acclaimed British animation studio, Sean Clarke will discuss its commitment to innovation, nurturing talent, philanthropic initiatives and opportunities for growth.

12 p.m. EST
In the AVOD Stream
This super-session will look at the massive kids’ AVOD opportunity from both the platform and distribution perspectives. In the first half, we’ll hear from WildBrain Spark’s Jon Gisby and Roku’s Ashley Hovey on working with content and ad partners, while in the second part, Jetpack Distribution’s Dominic Gardiner and Xilam Animation’s Charles Courcier will discuss the complexities and rewards of AVOD licensing deals.

1:30 p.m. EST
Keynote: 9 Story’s Vince Commisso
Vince Commisso, the president and CEO of 9 Story Media Group, will weigh in on the strategy for building brands, the company’s focus on diversity and representation and managing a business amid the pandemic.

3 p.m. EST
TV Kids Pioneer Award: ZDF’s Nicole Keeb
The head of international co-productions, development and acquisitions for children and youth at ZDF will be honored for her contributions to the children’s programming industry with a TV Kids Pioneer Award.

Thursday, June 10: Screenings Day

9 a.m. EST
Premiere: Mondo TV & Toon2Tango’s The Wee Littles
The Wee Littles is about a tiny family of four, living in the forest, handling their compact size with their own unique and inventive flair. Ahead of the premiere, Mondo TV’s Luana Perrero and Toon2Tango’s Jo Daris give a behind-the-scenes look at how the series came together.

11 a.m. EST
Premiere: Dandelooo’s The Upside Down River
The Upside Down River is an adventure story based on the cult youth novel by Jean-Claude Mourlevat featuring a breathtaking quest for the one magical drop of water from the River Qjar that allows for eternity.

12 p.m. EST
Premiere: ACTF’s Hardball Season 2 & The Inbestigators
In season two of Hardball, Mikey and the gang go on a huge adventure to win against the best players in the state in the prestigious handball tournament—Staties! The Inbestigators is a mystery detective comedy series. When 10-year-old Maudie, a freakishly gifted observer of human behavior, forms a detective agency with her classmates Ezra, Ava and Kyle, no school or neighborhood crime is left unsolved.



Keynote: ViacomCBS Networks International’s Maria Kyriacou

Speaking at the TV Kids Summer Festival, Maria Kyriacou discussed the success of ViacomCBS Networks International’s (VCNI) kids’ businesses in the U.K., Australia and Israel and highlighted some of the company’s inclusion initiatives, including its “no diversity, no commission” policy.

Kyriacou serves as president of ViacomCBS Networks UK, Australia and Israel. “I look after what I consider to be the three creative engines of ViacomCBS Networks International for English-speaking,” Kyriacou said in conversation with TV Kids’ Anna Carugati, pointing out that VCNI also has a thriving LatAm production business.

Read excerpts of the keynote below and watch the entire video here.

VCNI’s free-to-air businesses under Kyriacou’s remit—Channel 5 in the U.K. and Network 10 in Australia—had a strong performance in the past year amid the pandemic. “Both of them experienced much stronger growth than the competitive set,” Kyriacou said. “Channel 5 grew its share year-on-year by 5 percent, more than any of the other PSBs in the U.K. Network 10 was the only commercial broadcaster last year to have grown overall. Both channels have a history of investing in kids’ programming.”

Channel 5’s Milkshake! offering “continues to thrive and strengthen,” she said. “And our reach has stayed relatively stable, no matter what’s going on in the rest of the media landscape. We appeal to parents because we are a good, safe destination and one that reflects back to them the lives of their children and themselves. We are committed to British content on Milkshake!, as we are through the rest of Channel 5. Channel 5’s success over the last few years has been built on an investment in original British content in prime time. We’ve moved from a largely acquired schedule to a largely originated, commissioned schedule. We doubled our investment in Milkshake! original British content. We’re now in a really strong place, thanks to initiatives like the Young Audiences Content Fund, which has really helped us invest in the kinds of programming that wouldn’t normally get made if you were just reliant on the commercial model. So we’ve been able to make more live action, make shows that are about social issues. We’ve been able to back our diversity agenda to reflect all of British life in all its diversity. We’re also very committed to regional programming. We are a big investor in production companies outside of London…to make sure we are delivering the best of what the U.K. has to offer.”

Last year, VCNI unveiled a new channel brand, 10 Shake, in Australia, which caters to kids from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then skews slightly older in the evenings. “It’s been a huge success in bringing families and children to our network overall. We’ve seen growth in viewing from when we launched until now of over 100 percent.”

Local content is key across the portfolio, Kyriacou said. “It is really critical that kids see their lives reflected back to them. When you’re talking about preschool programming, it’s really important to parents as well that their children feel they can see themselves on-screen. The way to do that is to make sure that you are commissioning in your local territory. I have three territories that are known to be highly creative. Between the U.K. and Israel, in particular, we have two of the markets that punch way above their weight across the globe in overall creativity. This is the market that originated Peppa Pig, Thomas and Fireman Sam. We’re able to originate here, playing to the strengths of the creative community around us, and it allows us to create shows that then travel across the world on the Nick network. That’s as true for Israel as it is for the U.K.”

On how VCNI is reaching kids across multiple platforms, Kyriacou said, “Kids are natural multiplatform users. They are connecting with the characters and the shows themselves. They’re not thinking about the business model behind it. So it’s important for us to make sure we are where the kids are. The BVOD business that sits alongside Channel 5 and Network 10, My5 and 10Play, has also grown exponentially over the last year or so. When we went into lockdown, we made a commitment to increase the number of hours of kids’ programming available on My5. We continued to build up the overall volume. So far this year, we’ve seen a 27 percent increase in the amount of kids’ streams on My5 year-on-year. We announced the August 11 launch of Paramount+ in Australia; it will have a strong kids’ proposition from day one. It’s also important for us to be on social media. We have a Facebook and Instagram presence, a YouTube channel. And we’ve been feeding that YouTube channel with shorts and interstitials all the way through lockdown, focusing on education, crafts, getting kids active and connecting with the parents as well as the children. On top of that, we think it’s important to have a real-world connection with kids. We’d like, fingers crossed, to get back into a world where we can have SlimeFest, where we will meet kids in person. We’re introducing a new event, 5 on the Farm Festival, where we will have a strong Milkshake! presence. That will be up in Yorkshire at the end of August. We also have our PAW Patrol live events around the world and Milkshake! events throughout the U.K.”

Diversity and inclusion have long been part of the Nick approach, Kyriacou said, referencing the brand’s 1990 Declaration of Kids’ Rights. “That lives and breathes in the No Diversity, No Commission strategy,” which originated in the U.K. last summer and was expanded across the VCNI footprint in October. “People have a right to be seen. We need to honor that by making sure we have representation on-screen and behind the camera and within our organization. And not just representation, but also a sense of inclusion. Inclusion is about making people feel that they can succeed no matter what. It’s really important to us that in our programming, we reflect all lives.”


Originally published: Friday, May 14, 2021.

H/T: Special thanks to @RegularTweetsUK for the news!

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