From July 4 to July 6, Sheffield played host to the 2023 CMC, the sole conference event in the UK for anyone interested in creating, producing, and distributing content for children.
This year the event marked its 20th anniversary with 1000 attendees, a richer offer of expert talks, and special attention to themes like web world and AI.
1000 eager delegates attended the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) 2023 in Sheffield, England, from July 4–6, with the energetic theme Power Up!
The headquarters was in the Showroom Cinema, but the opening keynote and the creative keynote, two of the most popular conferences, took place at the historic Sheffield City Hall. David Olusoga, a historian and broadcaster, gave the opening keynote address. He discussed how the media can help teach children about British history, a subject that is in high demand. He also expressed his belief that public funding is necessary for children’s media and his hope that in 50 years, the internet and social media will be less focused on profiteering and more focused on the public good.
In the Creative Keynote, best-selling author Sharna Jackson spoke to previous CMC themes (such as 2009 “Connect”, 2011 “Thinking Differently”, and 2021 “Together”) on the occasion of the 20th anniversary, connecting them with her long-standing engagement with the event.
Many conferences focused on artificial intelligence, gaming, the web, and streaming services. In the second appointment of the Understanding Kids conferences series, Ofcom presented findings from their Children’s Media Literacy Trackers, showing that gaming ranks highly in kids media activities, with similar popularity in genres, starting at around 70% for 8 years, up to 94% for boys aged 16-17 years and 80% for girls. Gaming is approximately equal between the sexes, but the approach differs: boys enjoy competitive games, whereas girls prefer solo-player games. There were also concerns about the risks of the metaverse, such as the violent themes, and playing with unknown people (practiced by 25% of 8-17s) .
The User-generator Generation, moderated by David Kleeman (Dubit), focused on how the children’s media sector competes and interacts with user-generated game content and video makers. A new scenario is emerging: self-taught Gen Z native video and game creators are entering the workforce with a thorough awareness of what their peers desire, and brands can significantly benefit from positioning their IPs within popular games.
Stream if you want to go FASTter pointed out that AVOD and FAST channels have transformed the streaming landscape. FAST will grow from $6.3 billion in 2023 to $13 billion in 2028, with the US accounting for more than 80% of the global figure. Advertising sales for TV shows and films are expected to double to $70 billion by 2027, up from $33 billion in 2021.
In the Power Up with AI session, the CMC audience got the opportunity to use AI to create a series pitch in less than an hour.
An unmissable appointment is Put your Money where your mouth is, the successful pitching contest for new animated projects. Dust Valley, a CG cartoon for 6-9s starring protagonist Snorkel, an 11-year-old space orphan’ who landed on the wrong planet in search of a new home, was chosen by the CMC audience. The judges decided that Zeal of Zeon, a manga/anime project about three teenagers who are enticed into beta testing a music-based video game, was the winner.
The CMC events also provide an opportunity to stay current on market developments.
The first conference of Understanding kids series, Commissioning and Distribution in a Changing Market, discussed how children’s content evolved in recent months, in the context of a general slowdown in activity by leading broadcasters and streamers. Children’s animation projects have suffered the most, particularly new project commissions. A portion of these reductions can be ascribed to the SVoD and Pay TV-dominated US market. Currently, the most popular content comprises titles that are available across various platforms, and this option is highly advised for new releases that want to maintain popularity after their initial release.
In Commissioner Conversations 6-12 professionals from various broadcasters and productions explained the current demands for this tough crowd. Channels are seeking fresh formats that meet kids where they are. It is becoming more difficult to monetize content, and broadcasters must be innovative in terms of funding, co-production, and sharing platforms. Paramount (Nickelodeon) is continuously looking for new formats that will allow them to tell tales in new ways. The most significant ideas for BBC Children’s introduce themes of neurodiversity and wellness, portraying diverse economic, cultural, and religious viewpoints, and sustainability. Da Vinci (part of the Macademia Group) attempts to address themes that are rarely discussed, whereas for Sky it is critical to promote new properties. Let’s Game World Builders has been a popular gaming spinoff from their game titles, and the rapper MC Grammar is a big success.
The annual CMC Animation Assemble! session seeks to educate attendees on the most recent advancements in high-quality animation entertainment for children. As the streaming progresses, IP owners and broadcasters must now find more strategic/collaborative approaches to get shows produced. When it comes to tax advantages, the UK currently has a competitive disadvantage when compared to other regions. Both Lego and Sky accord that well-known properties are the safest pick for commissioners, but they also want to give new voices a chance (Ready Eddy Go is an example).
According to Jellyfish Animation, IP owners can collaborate with an SVOD broadcaster, but only with a full buyout of rights, which decreases your future earning potential from the IP, or a longer finance model, which necessarily entails a dilution of rights. The BBC agrees that the business is currently undergoing a recalibration.
In between conferences, there was no shortage of enjoyable moments spent together, such as the Aardman-sponsored CMC Drinks Reception at Sheffield Cathedral or the Fudge-sponsored CMC party. Among the other relevant sponsors of the Conference, Bluezoo, Candy Castle, Magic Light, Youtube kids, Wildbrain, and many more.
In 2024, the next edition of CMC awaits everyone who is interested!
More information can be found at https://www.thechildrensmediaconference.com/.
Curated by Rossella Arena