Deirdre Brennan has been living in the Great White North for nearly a week and has yet to indulge in a true Canadian delicacy. Experiencing the taste sensation known as poutine is on a lengthy to-do list for the high-profile Australian broadcasting exec and former ABC TV kids boss, who officially stepped into the role of VP of content at Corus Kids earlier this week─a position that actually expands on the one vacated by Jocelyn Hamilton last fall.
Brennan, who stepped down from her position at the Australian pubcaster last month, will oversee all content aspects of media conglomerate Corus Entertainment’s eight Canadian children’s channels─YTV, Treehouse, Nickelodeon, Teletoon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD─while also leading original programming, acquisitions and scheduling teams. She will also develop, manage and execute the entire Corus Kids slate of programming.
Brennan will also play a vital role in expanding Corus Kids’ global partnerships with kidcasters, creators and talent, an area in which she is well-versed, thanks to her previous experiences at ABC TV, where she oversaw ABC KIDS, ABC3, ABC children’s iview and online activities; at BBC Worldwide, where she was GM for Australia and New Zealand; and at Nickelodeon Australia, where she served as director of programming.
“The kids industry is so increasingly global, and Canada plays a big role. I’m really looking forward to talking with both Canadian and global producers. The industry here has incredible local content. And particularly over the last year, Corus has aligned with such rich partners, so this position is a unique opportunity for anyone in the industry,” says Brennan. “There is a strong production relationship between Australia and Canada, and there is lots in common with their kids audiences.”
While similarities abound between both countries, Brennan says the move from a public broadcaster to a multimedia corporation does offer some differences.
“A public broadcaster’s role is to serve its audience, and Corus is a successful business, but one that still puts children and its audience first, so that is something that the two share.”
Corus Kids EVP Colin Bohm, to whom Brennan will report, says his new colleague’s holistic perspective on the kids business will prove to be beneficial during a time of continued growth for the company.
“As we look at the next couple of years, Brennan is a key part of the puzzle. Our two objectives are to grow our domestic portfolio of channels, while also really expanding our global business through Nelvana, and she will help shape a slate of content that works domestically and globally,” says Bohm. “Brennan has so much experience working abroad, which informs this content outlook, and leveraging all of her relationships is an important element.”
Bohm adds that Brennan is joining a strong Corus Kids team─and one that has seen some significant changes over the past year.
Last March, former head of Corus Kids Doug Murphy replaced John Cassaday as president and CEO of the media company. Four months later, Hamilton announced that she was leaving her position as VP of kids & family programming and original productions to head up eOne Television Canada as president. Last August, continued executive shuffles saw Bohm upped to EVP and head of Corus Kids, Maria Hale promoted to EVP of television, head of content distribution, Corus, and former Nelvana EVP and current CTO Scott Dyer add Nelvana president and EVP to his remit.
While Brennan’s appointment represents continued changes for the Corus Kids group, no further staffing moves are expected at this time.
“The greatest things I can do right now is learn and listen. It’s really important that I understand the business and audience needs,” Brennan says. “We’ve got a long-term content slate. I have a feeling a couple of years will slip by before my very eyes.”