It’s been five months since Melissa Cobb joined Netflix as the company’s first VP of kids and family, and the former Oriental DreamWorks exec already has a lot to talk about in terms of future animated and live-action offerings. And so yesterday’s Kidscreen Summit session entitled “In Conversation with Melissa Cobb” allowed her to do just that.
Cobb, who told the packed room that she grew up as an avid reader who loved fantasy fiction, says the SVOD is looking for a wide range of genres—from talking animals to dialog-free preschool fare—that appeal to kids and families. But Cobb did note a big area of focus right now for the streamer is live action, and she’s looking for more tween sitcoms, action/adventure live-action series and co-viewing sitcoms.
This is the type of content that Netflix is going to be putting out in the next year, starting with previously announced series Alexa & Katie (a sitcom for tween girls about two friends, one of which has cancer) on March 23. That will be followed by Best Worst Weekend Ever coming out later in 2018. The live-action sitcom follows 14-year-olds who really want to go to Comic-Con but don’t have tickets.
Animation, meanwhile, is a big focus for Netflix on the movie side of things, which Cobb noted. She spoke of a number of projects currently in the works, ranging from stop-motion animation to CGI, but she’s remaining tight-lipped on titles and co-pro partners, though she said Netflix is working with studios both large and small.
Last week, the streaming giant took a major step into the children’s film arena with the announcement of its first animated feature movie, Over the Moon, which is being developed in partnership with China-based Pearl Studio (the company formerly known as Oriental DreamWorks). Directed by legendary Disney animator Glen Keane, the movie will be released exclusively on Netflix and theatrically in China as a musical adventure in 2020.
In terms or testing the limits of tech, Cobb said Netflix is looking at more interactive shows in the vein of Buddy Thunderstruck and Puss in Book, which were released in July 2017. The new interactive content will include whole series as well as one-off special episodes of shows that already exist.
Cobb also noted Netflix’s global kids audience has grown by 65% overseas year-over-year, and the streamer will continue to look at every territory closely as it expands rapidly. And thinking globally is part of Cobb’s repertoire. The seasoned exec, who reports directly to Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos, was most recently CCO and head of studio at Oriental DreamWorks, where she oversaw the studio as well as US/China collaborations. Prior to joining Oriental DreamWorks, Cobb worked at DreamWorks Animation and was responsible for producing the Kung Fu Panda trilogy..