After more than 20 years with Australia’s mighty public broadcaster, ABC Kids programmer Deirdre Brennan is moving on to a new gig at commercial TV rival Nick. The appointment of Brennan as programming director ends a year-long search and puts her squarely in the driver’s seat of content development, acquisitions and scheduling.
Going to a channel that focuses entirely on kids and has the backing of such a powerful and well-resourced parentco is a dream come true for Brennan. But the position doesn’t come without its challenges.
For one thing, despite Australia’s small population, its kids broadcast market is so competitive that kidnets have to do a lot of groundwork in communities to make an impression with the audience. Nick’s outreach efforts on this front have been impressive, says Brennan, but they naturally have an impact on the channel’s operating budget, so some aspects of the programming strategy may need to be approached in a cost-conscious way.
And then there’s the issue of quotas. Although it tries to hit a 25% to 30% range of homegrown fare, the ABC is much more self-regulated than Australia’s pay-TV nets, so Brennan will devote some time over the next few weeks to getting up to speed on the quotas that impact Nick’s air. She’ll also work closely with channel GM Katrina Southon to ID programming goals, define her strategy and find out more about Nick’s vast support structure. ‘Basically, I’m going to be a Sponge…Bob,’ she quips.
But Brennan has already gleaned considerable knowledge about Nick’s current MO just by keeping a close eye on the local kidcasting landscape. ‘As a competitor, I’ve been watching everything they’ve done in the last six years with a microscope. I know their schedules, I know their initiatives, I know their local productions. I know what they do, and I can’t wait to find out what they want to do next.’ She’s also looking forward to accessing the qualitative research Nick regularly conducts to get an inside look at how the kids demographic is changing before anyone else.
Brennan leaves ABC in a good position since the ’07 programming season is pretty much locked. And to help guide the team until a permanent replacement is found, Donna Andrews has stepped in as a consultant for the next three months.