At Franklin Rae, we’re passionate about championing and promoting diversity in all forms across the international TV industry. The issue is very close to our hearts. And we’re thrilled to be official partners for the inaugural Diversify TV Excellence Awards at MIPCOM in Cannes this October.
Created by Diversify TV, a pressure group co-founded by Scorpion TV Managing Director, David Cornwall; All3Media International’s Nick Smith; Little Black Book CEO, Bunmi Akintonwa; and Reed MIDEM’s Liliane Da Cruz; the Diversify TV Awards aim to recognise productions that celebrate diversity, equality and inclusion on the small screen.
And who better than Sir Lenny Henry to lend his support. An instrumental voice in raising awareness around the lack of diverse representation on and off screen. He has long been at the forefront of campaigns to make British broadcasters address issues of diversity, and this year Sir Lenny Henry will deliver a keynote address at MIPCOM to coincide with the inaugural awards.
Categories for Diversify TV Awards include scripted and non-scripted content: representation for race and ethnicity, representation of LBGTQ and representation of disability. With entries officially open to producers and production companies across the international TV industry, we’re urging others to take part! The deadline for entries is Friday 6 October at midnight BST and there’s more information available here.
With the launch announcement covered in Worldscreen and Video Age International we’re proud to be associated with Diversify TV Excellence Awards and such a powerful initiative.
See you at MIPCOM!
At the Edinburgh International TV Festival, news presenter Jon Snow delivered a stirring and emotional MacTaggart Lecture in which he argued the media has become “disconnected” from some parts of society. His impassioned speech had tears in many of the audiences eyes, mine included.
“The completely man-made Grenfell disaster has proved beyond all other domestic events, how little we know, and how dangerous the disconnect is.”
“The Grenfell story was out there, shocking in its accuracy, hidden in plain sight.. but we had stopped looking.”
The challenge for the media is; how can it better reflect the problems, interests, and sensibilities of different cultures so that it better represents modern British society?
Behind the Camera
One of the best ways to achieve this is to increase the diversity of behind the camera talent. These people decide what is interesting, what programmes are made, and what news is reported. It is an issue that needs to be tackled at the grassroots level. It’s about increasing awareness of opportunities that are on offer – and shedding light on TV as a potential career.
Edinburgh International TV Festival’s Talent Schemes
This is where PR can help. As a company operating in the media industry, there’s scope to use PR to develop awareness and events to raise the profile of the industry in communities. At Franklin Rae we work to promote the Edinburgh International TV Festival’s Talent Schemes, Ones To Watch and The Network. These work together to drive applications from all parts of the country.
To engage with people from a number of varied communities meant we had to work differently. In order to raise the profile of the talent schemes we worked closely with local journalists, placing case studies and using social media in ways that would resonate with the audience. For example, interviews with creative leaders of diverse backgrounds and sourced testimonials from TV talent who are well known in these communities.
Both schemes do incredible work getting people from all walks of life involved in TV. Jon Snow applauded the schemes in his speech for this very reason – to great cheers from this year’s members! We were with the members of the schemes throughout the festival and their enthusiasm, knowledge, and skill was incredible. Their energy will really help drive the industry forward.
By Xander Ross, Senior Account Executive at Franklin Rae
Unboxing took the digital space by storm when it first leapt out of obscurity. It introduced brands to a whole new way of reaching their young audiences and engage with them through a very different type of content. But, what did it mean for the evolution of digital kids content?
Digital content was at the top of the agenda at this year’s Children’s Media Conference (CMC). And conversations across most panels ultimately turned to digital in some regard; What is digital content? What platforms are the right platforms? And how do you know if you’re doing it right?
There was one session that took this conversation to the next level. So Over Unboxing – What’s Next? was a forum for the big innovators in digital, led by Hopster’s Nick Walters, Paul Nunn from Super Awesome, Andy Taylor of Little Dot Studios, Wild Brain’s Samreen Ghani and the BBC’s Rachel Bardill. Here’s some of our takeaways on what the experts think will be taking off in the digital world:
Transition from linear to digital
There is no set definition of what ‘digital’ content is anymore. Content can be different lengths, appear on different channels, and have many different purposes. But, we do know that ‘digital’ is a content destination. All content is digital now and this has been driven by a new young platform-agnostic audience, and apps and Smart TV’s are eliminating this divide between linear and digital almost altogether.
That’s not to say YouTube is cannibalising traditional kids TV as we know it. Brands are increasingly seeing platforms like YouTube as a complementary channel rather than a threat. And we’re seeing the brands that work well in YouTube work well in linear TV as well – take Angry Birds as just one example!
What does content mean on digital?
Creating content for digital requires an element of relinquishing creative control, and letting kids take charge. This approach is allowing user generated content such as unboxing to move forward and challenge the traditional format. It’s a trend that challenges brands to catch up with viewers. Digital is two way interaction and modern content creators are recognising the hundreds of thousands of touch-points for kids to connect with.
But don’t be fooled, that’s not to say a 360° approach is always the answer. The industry is quickly discovering what different content means on different platforms. Creators are looking inwardly and asking ‘is it right for Snapchat?’ rather than just ticking those platform boxes. It’s an attitude that is allowing creators to explore what quality content is on digital. It’s not just about those high production values anymore, and unboxing is a prime example.
Meaningful monetization of digital
It’s an amazing time to be a kids content producer. The move towards original content on specialist digital platforms means there’s more premium content out there, particularly in the SVOD space.
What happens next depends on what the big four tech players decide and what they think kids and parents want. The gulf between low and high cost content is closing up, but isn’t going away until the issue of money for digital kids content producers is addressed.
When you look at the scope of digital, there’s a lot to consider! Bringing together video and interactive is interesting space and opens up kids content to further innovation and ideas. Netflix is taking a small bite of this and will surely set the precedent for what happens next!
By Abi Williams, Account Manager at Franklin Rae
As Donald Trump looks to engineer the world in his own image and turn the planet orange, Sheffield Doc/Fest hosted the panel “Climate Change: The Greatest Story of Our Time?”. The session explored the challenges of telling the story of climate change on screen. The panel consisted of leading figures from across the factual industry, including Arrow Media’s Ash Potterton (Man Made Planet: Earth From Space, C4), Director Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral, Netflix), Director Julia Dahr (Thank You For The Rain), Prof Joe Smith (Open University) and Keo Film’s Will Anderson (Hugh’s War on Waste, BBC) and Sky Entertainment’s Celia Taylor.
The poisoned chalice
TV remains one of the most influential and readily accessible mediums for the public to learn about the world. And climate change represents the most significant threat to the survival of this planet. According to a recent IPSOS Mori poll, 80% of the global population now agree climate change is largely the result of human activity.
Despite the clear importance of the subject, climate change programming was previously regarded as a “poisoned chalice” among producers. Arrow’s Ash Potterton, admitted as much during the panel. But after making Man Made Planet: Earth from Space, Arrow recognised that issues with the genre’s “preachy” tone must be addressed. The challenge is to create a show which avoids the old tropes. It needs to be engaging and entertaining, with a broad appeal.
Putting the story first
This attitude shift is part of a wider trend within the production industry. Producers are beginning to explore innovative ways of making shows which tackle climate change. The UK is home to the most creative talent in the world and they’re making climate change shows people want to watch. The industry has recognised the need to put the story first and the subject second. It’s about encouraging producers to use their brilliant storytelling skills to eschew that “preachy” tone. This doesn’t mean every show is going to get it right. But it does mean key lessons are being learned about what works with an audience and what doesn’t.
Take Arrow’s Man Made Planet: Earth from Space as an example. For a supposedly unpopular genre, the ratings revealed that in the 16-24-year-old bracket viewing figures were up 73%! This was achieved by packaging the documentary as a never-before-seen perspective on how the world has changed over the past 45 years. And not solely about climate change.
Climate change is a subject which struggles with balancing small human elements with the grand central issue. It’s a problem of creating scale. With Man Made Planet: Earth from Space, the solution was bouncing from the macro (satellite time-lapse images images showing the dramatic changes caused by mankind) to the individual (plucking out personal stories about the impact climate change has had on them), in order to make it feel both epic and intimate.
Finding a platform
With SVoD, the opportunities to reach different groups of people has become even easier. Chasing Coral from Emmy Award winning director Jeff Orlowski launches on Netflix in July, and tackles the catastrophic damage of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. And whilst an exceptional film, where else would such content have found a home where it could reach so many? Orlowski spoke about how Netflix allowed them to take the film on tour to schools, colleges, universities and community centres. We all know someone with a Netflix account, so by letting Orlowski put it on a big screen, it becomes extra marketing for the platform. It also means that the message about global warming reaches a far wider audience – a win-win situation.
With Trump abandoning the Paris climate agreement, it has never been more important for the global community to tackle the single greatest threat to our existence. We’re on the right path and the TV industry is waking up to the responsibility of using its influence as storytellers to spread the message.
There’s just one last thing I’d like to leave you with; more needs to be done and not just by telling stories. It’s time to practice what is being preached. Production companies need to really think about how they can be greener. A good place to start is the albert sustainability initiative for the visual-arts; a venture set up in conjunction with BAFTA which provides guidelines and a commitment to being an eco-friendly producer. I’ll raise an ethically sourced plastic bottle of water to that!
By Xander Ross, Senior Account Executive at Franklin Rae
Last month we ventured to Paris for Series Mania – the co-production event for scripted producers, and it was buzzing. Now in its eighth year, Series Mania is less about selling TV and more about celebrating the creative talent off-screen and nurturing co-production relationships.
Co-producing with partners that can add real value has become more important to a show’s success. Gone are the days where you would receive a healthy commission from a broadcaster to make a show and a good advance from your distributor, plus additional amounts of income from sales. Although having a broadcaster on-board remains somewhat critical, a production may also need co-pro partners that bring something in addition to finance to the table. It could be a different cultural perspective – resulting in a broader appeal amongst audiences, or it could be a fantastic showrunner, casting relationship, a location genius, a rocking writing-room, a relationship with broadcasters in a different territory, a stockpile of the latest hardware, a fantastic post-facility or just a different way of working.
Series Mania has a different vibe to other events we attend. It’s more creative, with producers discussing the challenges of a second series, how networks can kill a show, or even why Nordic comedy travels. There’s also a full day of experienced production companies from all over Europe pitching their show concept on stage in front of the industry – all looking to forge alliances to get their projects off the ground.
The organisers did an amazing job too in looking after us delegates. Hospitality really makes such a difference and we were spoilt with drinks at the jawdroppingly gorgeous gilt-laden Hotel de Ville, followed by dinner the next day at The Museum of Natural History.
Throughout the whole event, it was refreshing to see the top European production companies building relationships with their UK counterparts.
Great relationships have to start somewhere and Paris definitely isn’t a bad backdrop. Who knows where they may end up?
By Sophie Naylor, Managing Director at Franklin Rae.
According to Reed Midem, 10,500 delegates descended to the Croisette in Cannes last week for MIPTV. It was definitely much quieter than recent years, but apparently, there were 800 new buyers in town. This begs the question – is it worth attending MIPTV anymore? Perhaps for indies, not so much, especially if you have a distributor on board. MIPCOM is by far the busiest market out of the two, and the “must attend” event, but with that said, there were a number of interesting takeaways from MIPTV 2017…
One of the most informative sessions of the market took place on Tuesday morning. It focused on the future of kids TV and the first half of the session saw Michael Shore, VP and Head of Global Consumer Insights and Foresights at Mattel take to the stage to discuss the future of play.
New age content
According to Michael, the time kids spend watching content has shifted from traditional TV: whilst 59% of time is still spent watching TV, 41% of time is spent on other devices, for example tablets, video game systems and smartphones. The types of content kids watch is also changing substantially. A survey conducted amongst kids aged 3-12 revealed that 69% like to watch full-length TV episodes, 53% like to watch movies and 55% like to watch videos on the internet – this is up by 13%.
It is fair to say that the likes of Netflix and YouTube are defining content for new platforms. For example, on tablets and smartphones alike the majority of kids like to watch YouTube videos over Netflix content, whereas Netflix’s content still dominates TV screens when compared to YouTube videos and traditional programming/live TV.
This new-age content has shaped programming genres quite a bit. Nowadays kids are hooked on watching more user generated content, unboxing videos (video content that captures the unpacking of new products, i.e. new toys, consumer tech, etc… Crazy, I know!), tutorials, videos of other kids playing games, speed drawing, speed gaming, sports/esports and wait for it… jump scares (literally videos that make you jump and scream).
The way kids consume content is changing
So, how do indies keep up with these rapidly changing trends when it comes to creating kids content? This is where Hopster Founder and CEO, Nick Walters and Dan’l Hewitt, VP Non-Linear Programming at The Walt Disney Company came in.
Dan’l stated that within weeks of a child growing older, their interests and the way they consume content changes and they migrate to new content at an increasingly fast pace. In an attempt to keep up and really appeal to varying age groups, The Walt Disney Company works with talent that has the right influence, to stitch content together and create playlists for each creator, ultimately building brand franchises. Mattel is also identifying new ways to stay on trend. A couple of years ago, the company introduced the beloved Barbie as a vlogger. That’s right. Watch out Zoella and Tanya Burr. Barbie officially joined the 21st century by setting up her own YouTube channel in 2015, to share snippets of life in her dreamy Malibu Beach house.
Mattel also recently announced its new Hello Barbie Hologram. Now, at age 58, Barbie is a hologram. The bright pink box contains an animated projection of Barbie, which responds to voice commands. Bring her to life by saying “Hello Barbie” and you can then ask her all kinds of questions, such as “What is the weather going to be like in Malibu tomorrow?” It combines motion-capture animation with Amazon Echo-style voice interactions, and will be available to purchase later this year.
Talking directly to audiences
Nick from Hopster also touched on working with brands and influencers to produce content that is more relevant for kids. Over the years, Nick and his team have fostered great relationships with the likes of eOne, DreamWorks and Millimages to bring some of the best kids content to Hopster, including Peppa Pig, Postman Pat, Noddy and Louie. Nick and the team have also created a platform that lends itself nicely to non-traditional content, which would not potentially work on linear platforms; from music videos and games, to short form content like Punky for example. Punky is a kids animation about a little girl who has Down Syndrome, which teaches kids how to interact with family and that, most importantly, being different is OK.
Unlike linear channels or the likes of YouTube, SVoD platforms such as Hopster can talk directly to their audiences and achieve a much deeper level of engagement with kids – especially if they are based on a subscription model. With over 1.5 million parents subscribed to Hopster all over the world, you could argue that it is the perfect home for long and short form preschool content, that will not only entertain kids, but will help them learn through the stories they love too.
So although MIPTV might have been quieter than last year and the year before that, it definitely presented a good showcase of true trendsetters, who are helping to shape the future of content and more importantly, are willing to impart their insight and wisdom for others to embrace.
By Shereene Witter, Senior Account Director at Franklin Rae.