Title: senior VP, global acquisitions and international programming, Nickelodeon, Viacom International Media Networks
Following the announcement of Nickelodeon’s latest domestic US slate, its international programming chief, Jules Borkent, tells TBI about the kids channels’ various global programmes, rights and strategies
TBI: How does the international business operate alongside the flagship US channel?
JB: The international business works very much in sync with the US. We export the domestic content across our networks around the work and bring our international sourced and produced content back to the US.
TBI: Should producers and distributors be seeking out acquisitions people at a local level or is buying handled centrally? Who are the key buyers within your team?
JB: We take pitches both centrally and locally. Layla Lewis is based in the US and is responsible for the all central acquisitions that include both the US domestic network and the international channels. We have programming heads that are in charge of their individual markets who share everything that gets submitted to the central group.
TBI: What’s the commissioning cycle – are there times of year you are focused on ordering original series?
JB: Not particularly. We pick up content all throughout the year.
TBI: Do you commission on a pan-regional basis or is original programming country-specific? Do you finance entire budgets, or seek coproduction partners?
JB: We commission content both locally and pan regionally and either fully finance or seek coproduction partners depending on the project. Acquisitions are both local and international.
TBI: What are you really looking for at the moment, is there a genre or specific type of programme you have on your ‘shopping list’ or are there particular programming slots you are very focused on?
JB: For all our linear and non-linear platforms we continue to be on the lookout for animation, for both preschool and the 6+ demo. Comedy live action, as well as serialised formats, are also still high on our wishlist.
TBI: Which kids market is the most valuable for you in 2015?
JB: We attend all the major markets including NATPE, Kidscreen, MIP/Mipcom and Annecy; all of which are valuable in their individual ways.
TBI: What sort of programming is the kids TV market lacking?
JB: Today’s market is rich with fantastic choice spanning all the genres, from live-action to animation. Nickelodeon is committed to finding fresh voices and new talent, which we do through our shorts programme and our writers programme among others.
TBI: What acquired shows are you excited to launch in the next few weeks/months?
JB: We are looking forward to the international launches of Max and Shred and Alvinnn!!! and the Chipmunks.
TBI: What should distributors know about your channels before pitching content?
JB: It is key that they really understand and know our brand, our content and what works well for us.
TBI: What types of on-demand rights do you require?
JB: We acquire content for all platforms that our audiences are using to watch our content, including on-demand.
TBI: What sorts of windows are you buying for?
Depending on the territory, we share out content with FTA [free-to-air] broadcasters. Our windows depend very much on our investment in the project.
TBI: What is the key challenge facing buyers in today’s market?
JB: It is becoming tougher to negotiate comprehensive rights for all the various platforms.