MIPCOM 2019. Although Alvin and the Chipmunks, SpongeBob SquarePants and Miraculous Ladybug still dominate the rankings for the top three programmes that European children spend the most time watching, new trends are emerging and firmly establishing themselves in the still-successful children’s programming.
In Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, four TV channels dedicated to children have recorded audience shares that have increased by more than 30% over three years (the first half of 2019 compared with the first half of 2016).
Another sign of dynamism from the first half of 2019 is that there are 18 new launches in the top 20 best-performing programmes observed in the five countries studied by Glance – Global Audience and Content Evolution, in the Kids TV Report (January-June 2019).
The huge-scale importation of children’s programmes still reigns, everywhere in Europe.
Most private European children’s channels operate with over 85% imported programmes. With almost 60% domestic and co-production programmes, France is an exception.
Unsurprisingly, animation is still the most popular genre amongst those aged under 15. It currently accounts for an average of 78% of the 20 best-performing children’s programmes in the five studied countries*. This ratio is higher than it has ever been during the last five years.
At the MIPJunior 2019 event, Avril Blondelot, Content Insight Director at Glance, said: “Three major trends have been noted in children’s programmes throughout the world. Granted, Alvin and the Chipmunks was still the most watched programme in Europe in the first half of 2019, followed by SpongeBob SquarePants. Still, diversity, very young TV presenters and “travel” through time or space are strong trends that are becoming established.”
Trend 1: Celebrating diversity
The theme of diversity, which has been explored time and time again in audio-visual productions for adults, is now starting to crop up in children’s programming.
For example, First Day (ABC ME), an Australian series comprising four short episodes, depicts young Hannah, who wears a skirt and abandons the male first name they were given at birth when they start at secondary school.
In Canada, The Bravest Knight (Hulu) relates, in thirteen 11-minute-long bursts, the adventures of a very young brave knight who marries a prince and adopts a daughter with him. The first episodes have been available since June and the following ones since October.
Finally, the number one children’s programme in the United Kingdom amongst 4-15 year olds in the second half of 2018, Catie’s Amazing Machine, bucks the trend of the many car magazine shows that are invariably presented by males. In the TV series, Catie Munnings, a 21-year-old British rally driver, finds herself at the controls of XXL and/or ultra-fast vehicles, thereby breaking the traditional codes of the auto world. The TV series was first broadcast in October 2018 on the BBC’s children’s channel CBeebies, which is dedicated to very young children (six years and under).
Trend 2: The advent of child TV presenters
The second trend is that TV presenters are becoming younger and younger. First in the US, with aspiring young presenters often being spotted on YouTube. This was the case for a young YouTuber called Ryan, who turned up on Nickelodeon Junior, with the Ryan’s Mystery Playdate show, to take on some challenges and solve some puzzles to find out which celebrity would play alongside him in front of the cameras.
In Spain, the programme Manduka follows Paula Alós, a 12-year-old head chef who won the national MasterChef Junior competition. The young girl presides over a cooking series that has enabled the Catalan channel Super3 to double its average audience for the time slot amongst 4-12 year olds in the first two episodes.
Who says all programmes for young people are entertainment or action based? This is certainly not the case for Sky Kids (in the United Kingdom), which puts an emphasis on factual information in its programme FYI (For Your Info): every week, the show presents facts in a way that is accessible to children. FYI is a 15-minute-long programme, presented by children for children, which answers their pressing questions about the news, current affairs and politics.
Trend 3: Travelling far, in space… or in time
The third major trend amongst those identified and detailed by Glance is “Supersized travels”: a supersized journey through space and/or time.
In China, some dinosaurs turn up in the modern-day world. Two Chinese children accidentally create a vortex (hence the title Kim & Jim’s Wormhole), and the creatures passing through it disrupt the children’s normal day-to-day life. Although the programme has not yet been launched, several Chinese platforms and channels plan to broadcast it, such as CCTV, Kaku, Tencent and iQiyi.
Thanks to his time-travelling lift, young Luke, a hotel porter, is set to experience and take us with him on an exciting adventure that transcends the generations.
Time Traveler Luke is a joint production between South Korea and Malaysia.
Finally, a star called Sardine de l’Espace has hit French screens in the form of a cartoon. Fearless and knowing no bounds, Sardine is a bubbly girl who draws you into her incredible adventures. Her missions revolve around saving the universe by thwarting the evil intentions of two nasty villains called Supermuscleman and Dr. Krock, who are never very far away! Currently shown at MIPJunior, this programme, which is adapted from a successful French cartoon, will soon be broadcast on Télétoon+ (Canal+ group) in France.