Times may be tough at the CBC these days, but you wouldn’t have known it last week as kids and parents gathered at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Theatre to celebrate its annual Kids Day.
An upfront of sorts for children and media – and the media’s children – the theatre was strewn with colourful deck chairs and picnic tables filled with families munching away while the CBC’s creative head of children’s and youth programming Kim Wilson presented three new series for fall/winter: Chirp, The Moblees and You+Me.
While news coming out the CBC lately has been dreary at best, Wilson is as enthusiastic as ever about its children’s programming and its commitment to offering entertainment that caters to the emotional, social and educational development of kids. Here, she sits down to talk new structures, scheduling and reaching the youngest target demos as their viewing habits change.
What impact have the recent cuts had on Kids’ CBC programming plans?
There isn’t, really. We weren’t affected by this round of cuts…My in-house infrastructure is very different than the rest of the company. Everything comes under one umbrella – the apps, television, the music stream, all the community events [and] digital. We’re a small but powerful team. I devised a team that works the way that CBC is going, which is creating content and putting it on the platforms it needs to be on.
Kids’ CBC recently launched a YouTube channel: are you finding it is driving to broadcast, or pulling from?
I never really believed a whole lot in ‘one sends to the other’…My son is six – all the Kids’ CBC he watches, he watches on the tablet. Sometimes we watch it on YouTube, but mostly it’s on the Kids’ CBC TV for Me app. Because it’s for preschoolers, it’s a much more intimate experience.
Television is still a very important thing because a lot of preschoolers still go by destination times – parents will get upset if I change the scheduling, because they’ll say ‘oh my gosh, nap time was after Busy Town.’ It’s a part of how parents schedule their mornings. But certainly, because we’re not a 24-hour net, having the streaming app, having the YouTube channel, has changed things for us. Our numbers have just gone up. Now we have opened up opportunity for people to find us when previously they couldn’t.
What changes in viewing habits are you noticing from your audience?
School age kids come home and chill in front of the TV, but are more likely to seek out content online. Preschoolers have traditionally watched the most scheduled programming, more so than any other age group, even seniors…but definitely, preschoolers now are a tablet generation. I really see families migrating to YouTube. It’s a big change – people looking for content on YouTube which is why we have all of our content housed all in one place versus just looking up individual videos, because there is lots of frightening stuff for kids on YouTube.
What are some of Kids’ CBC latest innovations?
We’re doing some interesting work in terms of our engagement piece with the school-aged audience and how we’re going to empower them to have some control on the website.You will see a lot of changes in the upcoming year on that. On the parents side of things, we are inviting parents in on advisory councils we are really trying to get more voices.