Along with relaunching the website for its flagship kids brand Toowam in mid-July, France 3 has begun fine-tuning its programming strategy to embrace the global media, cross-platform future. Moving forward, the net will be spending more of its annual US$23.2-million animation commissioning budget on properties designed to work on both TV and new media outlets.
The revamped Toowam.fr portal features web 2.0 bells and whistles such as gaming, social networking and streaming video, but France 3 director of children’s programming Julien Borde says the big change is that the site is now being co-managed by the channel’s digital division and programming department. In short, its content will be as carefully scheduled as the broadcast lineup, and the site will serve to preview new TV series, launch original content and play into on-air programming stunts.
France 3′s first multi-platform commission is Wakfu, a 52 x 22-minute series developed from a French MMOG called Dorfus. The web game has so far attracted more than five million plays and 250,000 subscribers. Obviously, Borde is looking to migrate some of those fans to the channel to watch the show, and to the website to play a Wakfu game that’s in the works. Interestingly, Borde says what attracted him to the original game was that it was less commercial and more artistic than others he’d been checking out, and he plans to keep mining the territory. His goal is to put two MMOG-inspired series into production every two years.
Of course, like every other broadcaster that has braved the new media realm, France 3 is looking to acquire more rights to support its cross-platform ambitions. VOD rights are a top priority for Borde right now because he expects kids will take full advantage of the site’s new video capabilities to catch up on shows they missed on-air, and he’s negotiating on a case-by-case basis for the time being.