Exclusive: Inside Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA’s kids content strategy

The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe

As the industry descends upon Cannes once again for MIPJR & MIPCOM, TBI talks to leading kids commissioners to find out what they’re looking for in terms of originals and acquisitions and what they’ve already got coming up.

Here, Sean Henry, VP of content strategy & acquisitions, kids, Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA, shares the media giant’s interest in preschool content and diverse stories and picks out some of its key titles.

Sean Henry

What’s on your kids & family commissioning wishlist at the moment? Are you open to pitches?

We believe that a strong kids & family business is essential for building a leading entertainment company – 75% of the world’s households have kids and we know that they spend across all touchpoints, whether it be in movie theatres, on consumer products or TV subscriptions.

Our own research tells us that households with kids provide great value to streaming services – not only do they watch more, but they are also less likely to churn than households without kids. That’s why we continue to be so committed to investing in kids and family content for our networks and our streaming services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Our networks were watched in over 160 million households in EMEA last year, whilst HBO Max, HBO and Discovery+ have over 92 million subscribers worldwide. These brands provide an incredible platform for our world-famous IP to continue to delight our existing fans whilst engaging a brand new audience.

We’re open to pitches throughout the year, either in-person or remotely. We’re looking for preschool series to be part of our growing global Cartoonito brand, and animated series targeting boys and girls aged 6+ for Cartoon Network. Both brands are distributed via our network channels and HBO Max.

Bugs Bunny Builders

What upcoming shows are you most looking forward to? What is it about those projects that excites you?

We have an incredibly exciting upcoming slate of new content. We’ve increased our investment in preschool content and have been rolling out our preschool brand, Cartoonito, on our networks and on HBO Max this year.

Cartoonito offers a modern approach to preschool programming and is built to support each child’s unique potential with its educational framework, Humancentric Learning. It aims to inspire kids to use their imagination, to learn from their mistakes and to treat others with empathy and respect. Our best known and most loved IP are central to Cartoonito’s programming slate with brand new preschool series, Batwheels, Bugs Bunny Builders and Scooby Doo And The Mystery Pups all set to premiere in the future.

Meanwhile, Cartoon Network continues to go from strength to strength and this year, alongside returning seasons of fan favourites, Teen Titans Go and Craig Of The Creek, we’re excited to premiere a number of brand new series targeting 6 to 12 year old kids.

We Baby Bears, which follows Grizz, Panda and Ice Bear as they travel in a magical box to fantastic new worlds searching for a place to call home, premiered earlier this year and has already seen a tremendous response from our audience with impressive viewing figures to match.

The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe is the second series from Hannah-Barbera Studios Europe, the team behind the global phenomenon The Amazing World Of Gumball, and Cartoon Network’s first series to come out of Denmark. It tells the tale of Ivandoe, a delusional young prince who has embarked on an epically silly quest to Eagle Mountain in search of the legendary Golden Feather. It will be produced in partnership with Copenhagen-based Sun Creature Studio, who also produced the successful shorts. The series is set to launch on Cartoon Network in early 2023 and we are convinced our viewers are going to absolutely love it! 

Teen Titans Go

What is your acquisitions strategy? What are you looking for from acquired kids content?

We’re looking for stories and characters that will complement our owned original IP on Cartoonito and Cartoon Network. It’s essential that our audience sees stories, characters and settings that are relatable, recognisable and aspirational, and that reflect the diversity of our region and that’s why we’re committed to investing in content from Europe, Middle East and Africa.

We have slots to fill from 2025 onwards and are looking to build new, local IP over a number of seasons and years. If you have something you think we’d like then we’d love you to get in touch!

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