Its very name may evoke visions of high-tech computers, but Parisian prodco Cyber Group Studios hasn’t operated a fully standalone digital division—until now. In response to kids’ evolving viewing habits and a slew of new original IPs, the 14-year-old company recently created an interactive arm helmed by former Disney Interactive EMEA VP/MD Thierry Braille (top). The division also just tapped Loic de Boudemange (bottom) as VP of digital development and operations. And additional hires are on the horizon, according to Cyber Group Studios CEO Pierre Sissman.
“Since we continue to create more and more content, it felt natural to grow this way,” Sissman says. “We basically created a digital division comprised of two areas—one dedicated to video games on all platforms, and the other to producing content for digital consumption and SVOD platforms. It’s not just about hiring people. You have to have a plan, which we do, and there are a number of benchmarks in place.”
Joining the company at the beginning of March, Braille is currently developing digital strategies based on Cyber Group’s original and third-party TV series. He is starting with mobile and console gaming properties based on Gigantosaurus, Sadie Sparks, Zorro The Chronicles, ZOU and Taffy.
“Thierry knows about video game manufacturing studios and commercial partners,” says Sissman. “He has led companies for 25 years, so he brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the table.” That experience will be put to work in developing video games for brand-new IPs, too. (Cyber Group plans to make some big gaming-led announcements timed with MIPCOM in October, or before the end of the year.)
“You can’t just do a video game for any series. You have to consider whether the content, graphics and stories are all there. And I think that we can now justify a long-term interactive segment within our company,” says Sissman. “It was not the right time for us to do this before…I don’t think we had the right properties in place.”
Former TV5Monde social media manager de Boudemange, meanwhile, is now producing native and digital content for Cyber Group’s web, social media, mobile and OTT initiatives.”de Boudemange is coming to us with a vast knowledge of how to create social content. While we are very familiar with making series that are targeted at individual clients—like that Disney or Nickelodeon DNA—but we have not fully engaged in the development of content for platforms such as YouTube and social networks,” says Sissman.
To be sure, Cyber Group has dipped its toes into the digital market before with several YouTube channels, which Sissman says cumulatively bring in roughly 200 million views per year. However, individual social channels were operated by different employees, and now these efforts have all been harmonized under de Boudemange’s command. (de Boudemange will also be working with DHX Media-owned WildBrain, after the digital kids company recently signed on to manage Cyber Group’s channels.)
“Loic is there to create content, channels and marketing plans so that our productions are visible everywhere,” says Sissman. “The end-game is to always provide an ultimate public experience.”
Beyond these two recent hires, Sissman says the prodco plans to bolster its stateside operations under Richard Goldsmith, who was tapped to lead Cyber Group Studios US last January. “It’s a big objective to move more aggressively into the digital area,” says Sissman. “Now that we are bigger, we are diversifying in a way that I think is complementary to what we do. We are going to be making some feature films, which will be announced soon, but also really focusing on digital. That is the future.”