Paul Robinson was appointed managing director of KidsCo, the children’s television joint venture between Dic Entertainment, Corus Entertainment and Sparrowhawk Media, in April 2007. He cut his teeth in the kids’ business as senior vp and managing director at Walt Disney Television International between 1998 and 2004, where he was responsible for global kids’ programming strategy for the U.K. channel. What with the sale of Sparrowhawk to NBC Universal in August and the debut of KidsCo in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine in September, he has had a busy couple of months. Robinson talked to The Hollywood Reporter’s European Television Editor Mimi Turner about KidsCo’s progress.
The Hollywood Reporter: What was the reasoning behind launching KidsCo? Surely the world has enough branded children’s channels without needing another one?
Paul Robinson: The Hollywood studios’ kids’ channels from Viacom, Turner and Disney are increasingly vertically integrating, leaving a huge gap in the market. KidsCo has teamed up with some of the worlds best content creators, including Dic and Nelvana (which are both one-third shareholders) and others, as partners — such as TV Loonland, Entertainment Rights, Decode, Iconix and Porchlight. KidsCo is now the home for some of the best children’s live action and animated shows from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia and has a different look and feel from the American kids’ channels.
THR: What difference will the recent news that NBC Universal is buying KidsCo parent Sparrowhawk Media make to your plans?
Robinson: NBC Universal doesn’t have a children’s channel in their portfolio, so KidsCo is a unique addition to the existing NBC Universal and Sparrowhawk Channels. NBC will bring additional expertise and resources.
THR: What kind of growth do you want to see over the next few years?
Robinson: We have big ambitions for KidsCo. We are talking to more content partners at MIPCOM and would like to expand even further the range and quality of our shows. We are also in the market for great live action and animated family movies. Our goal is to add at least a dozen more territories in the next 12 months, with our sights set on Asia, Western Europe and Latin America. We have distribution deals agreed to in several major markets and have signed deals in four Asian territories, where we will launch in spring 2008. You can expect several more launches from KidsCo in 2008, including competitive markets such as France and the U.K.
THR: Are you at MIPCOM looking for content, or is what you put on air mostly supplied by your shareholders?
Robinson: KidsCo has no gender skew — unlike other kid’s channels — and we are looking for content that is preschool, for kids 6-10 and family movies. Our shareholders, Dic and Nelvana, will make a substantial contribution to the schedule, but there is space for more content providers. We are looking for mainly animated series (2D, CGI, stop-frame, claymation) for kids that is founded on strong characters, great storytelling and is fun but safe to watch. Eddy Tan, our head of programming, would love to meet new potential content partners to KidsCo.
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SUBCONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Niches invade Indian market
DIALOGUE: KidsCo’s Paul Robinson
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