Francois Deplanck: Head of children’s programming Canal+ Group

Canal+ Family is the successful kids division of the French satellite pay TV broadcaster. It is run by Francois Deplanck, who is head of children’s programmes and channels at Canal+ Group.

Could you describe the kids strategy at Canal+?

We have three channels; Piwi aims at 3-5 year olds, Teletoon targets 6-to-10 year-olds and we also launched a new channel Canal+ Family two years ago. There is some crossover between Teletoon and Family. TPS Star, which is a DTT channel, also has a small block, a one-hour preschool block.

What shows have you acquired recently for Piwi?

Piwi is primarily animation in 2D and 3D. We have introduced new programming recently including RDF’s Big Barn Farm and in January we’ll launch our first live-action series for preschool Grandpa in my Pocket from Decode. It’s a very diverse channel compared to some of our competitors that will rebroadcast the same series six to eight times a day. To compete with the 18 competitors we need to have more recognized, big characters.

What about Teletoon?

Teletoon is our main kids channel, which has been going for 13 years. Only us and Disney have replay channels, which enables us to do complementary programming for boys and girls hour by hour. This gives us a balanced structure between boys and girls. We’re looking at fun shows, humour, tribes. There are a lot of French productions. We also have shows including Nelvana’s Crossology, Winx Club and shows from Futurikon. We also have Spongebob SquarePants until the end of the year, which we had until MTV brought Nickelodeon into the market.

What’s the mix between acquisitions and local productions?

It’s mostly acquisitions with 1/3 of the budget going to original productions including Kids Top 20, a Dutch format where a 15 year old goes into schools and sets it up like a disco. We also do a lot of special events around vacations. Some of the recent shows we’ve introduced are My Parents Are Aliens and Fingertips.

10% of the schedule is not animation, we thought there was more room for live action series. 60% of the shows are French productions, but we do need some international properties that the kids can find on games and cars.

What is the strategy of the Canal+ Family channel?

It is a premium channel that has totally exclusive programming . It has 6-12 months exclusivity, usually the first window before M6 and France 2. We continue to finance and spend more than thematic channels normally would. We’ve aired Rahm and The Daltons and Cosmic Robbie. Sometimes we co-finance with terrestrial channels and sometimes with Teletoon.

Canal+ Family is looking for something different than the other kids channels; it is targeting 7-14. To do that we have to have some kids series but we also need special shows with the Canal+ touch, that add more humour. There’s more slapstick, it’s a bit edgier.