As the new year gets underway, TBI speaks to key buyers about the shows they want and the models being used to pay for them.
Sean Henry, Vice President, EMEA Kids Content Strategy & Partnerships and GSA, CEE, Benelux Networks
What kind of shows are you currently looking to commission?
As a kids and family team our mission is to inspire and entertain 2–12-year-olds with our iconic brands, with authentic and relatable characters, and heartfelt and hilarious stories. We commission and co-produce animated content for our world-famous brands, Cartoon Network and Cartoonito. The content reaches 220 million households, in 20 languages across our portfolio of network TV channels, video on demand, social and digital platforms including HBO Max across EMEA.
Cartoonito is a dedicated offering for kids 2-6, with a focus for 4-6-year-olds. It’s a place where kids and parents can enjoy world famous characters and friends, alongside brand-new original series. Dedicated to fun, engaging and culturally relevant storytelling, we’re looking for animated series that complement our existing slate. They should be aesthetically unique with a fun sense of comedy.
Cartoon Network’s core demographic is 6-12-year-olds and houses world class comedy animation with themes of adventure, fantasy or mystery incorporated. We are looking for inclusive and diverse animated series that reflect the world kids in EMEA are growing up in. We want to see unique and contemporary depictions of characters, stories and themes that showcase how kids today view the world.
Are you open to pitches & at what stage would you want to join a project?
We have an open-door policy, meaning our team attend industry markets and conferences, take in-person meetings at our offices (London & Paris), video conference and also respond to emails via our submissions portal (emeakids&[email protected]) all year-round.
In terms of pitching, we welcome work at all stages of development. The team reviews projects in early development all the way through to fully developed series with scripts and animatics attached. We encourage partners to have supporting visuals to accompany the pitch to get an idea of the influences for the style and tone of the series. Alongside the concept which should be explainable succinctly in a couple of lines.
What financing models can you offer & how much can you contribute towards productions?
We are seeking projects that have a clear financing plan. We can make a significant financial and editorial contribution to the production of a series, but often do so alongside one or two other broadcasters.
What upcoming shows are you most looking forward to? What is it about those projects that makes them a good fit for your channel/platform?
Cartoon Network has traditionally attracted a boy-skewed audience in the past and it’s important for us to address that gender imbalance. We have two original European series coming to Cartoon Network over the next couple of years – Totally Spies: Woohp World and Goat Girl. Both are relatable comedy series that encourage kids to be their authentic selves whilst celebrating uniqueness and friendship. I am looking forward to seeing how our audience respond.
What is on your acquisitions wishlist at the moment?
We currently have slots open from 2026 onwards and are looking for ages 4-6 targeted animated series for Cartoonito, and ages 7-9 targeted animated series for Cartoon Network.
How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?
Both our Cartoonito and Cartoon Network slates are split 50/50 between original commissions from WBD’s animation studios, and co-productions with third party EMEA based studios. We believe this gives our slate a great balance between the world-famous characters Warner Bros. Discovery is well known for, and original and relatable stories from our own region.
Which rights would you be looking to acquire? How flexible can you be?
We’re looking for EMEA wide pay-TV, SVOD and promotional FVOD/AVOD, plus FTA in Spain, Italy, and MENA. We’re very happy to discuss windowing strategies between investment partners to get a project greenlit.
Which shows are performing well for you currently?
Our most popular IP’s include Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, Teen Titans Go (and DC in general). These recognisable and much-loved characters from world-famous franchises continue to grab kids’ attention and drive engagement. This incredible library also enables us to reimagine iconic shows for a totally new generation. Cartoonito’s Bugs Bunny Builders and Batwheels, are great examples of this. On Cartoon Network The Amazing World Of Gumball and Craig Of The Creek are extremely popular with kids across EMEA.