Netflix Taps Melissa Cobb to Head Kids and Family Content

Melissa Cobb - Publicity-P 2017
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix has appointed a new key executive to head its children’s programming division.

Melissa Cobb has joined the streaming giant as vp kids and family, where she will oversee the creation and acquisition of the platform's more G-rated fare. Based in the Los Angeles office, Cobb will report to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. In her role, the Kung Fu Panda producer will lead the content team responsible for bringing family-friendly films and TV shows — both animated and live-action — to Netflix subscribers globally, with an emphasis on high-quality series and event programming.

The hiring comes a month after Disney announced that it would pull its films, including those from Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, from Netflix and launch its own competing kids-centric streaming service. While Marvel TV shows will remain, all Disney movies will be removed from Netflix after 2018, with future films — including the coveted Star Wars franchise — finding their exclusive post-theatrical home on Disney's forthcoming service.

Cobb's appointment signals Netflix's attempt to stay relevant to younger-skewing viewers without the help of Disney's kids-friendly brand. Revving up children's content will also keep Netflix competitive with fellow streamers Hulu and Amazon, both of which have programmed (and acquired) a handful of kids shows and films already.

“Melissa brings a wealth of experience creating and overseeing series and feature films that resonate with kids and families across the globe. No matter where they live, our members find tremendous enjoyment in our kids and family content, and I couldn’t be happier to have Melissa on board to continue expanding into new and exciting areas,” Sarandos said Thursday in a statement.

“I’m so excited to begin this next chapter with Netflix. Given the creative freedom offered here and the global audience, there’s a huge opportunity for talented creatives across the industry to create the world’s best kids and family series and features for Netflix,” added Cobb. “My goal for this team is to offer a diverse slate of great, powerful and timeless family entertainment with global appeal, and to be creator- and talent-friendly, while striving for the highest quality in everything we do.”

Cobb joins Netflix from DreamWorks, where she most recently served as chief creative officer and head of studio for Oriental DreamWorks. Based in Shanghai, she oversaw all aspects of running the studio and U.S.-China collaboration — including creative oversight of all projects in development, business strategy and production strategy for a slate of animated feature films targeting a global audience. Cobb also ensured the green light of Everest, the company’s first feature, which is slated for a worldwide release in fall 2019.

Prior to joining Oriental DreamWorks, Cobb served as a producer at DreamWorks Animation, where she was responsible for all aspects of producing animated feature films, including the Kung Fu Panda animated film trilogy. Before joining DreamWorks, Cobb worked at 20th Century Fox in feature animation, where she helped to put the animated Titan A.E. and live-action Drew Barrymore feature Ever After into production. Prior to that, Cobb was at Walt Disney Pictures, where she was responsible for discovering and developing such live-action titles for the company as Blank Check, Steven Sommers’ The Jungle Book and Man of the House.