Here at Kidscreen, we spend a lot of time talking with buyers about what content they want. But it’s one thing to say you want to buy a certain type of show, and a whole other thing to go out and pick up a BIPOC-led comedy for six-year-olds that’s focused on climate change. So over the next five weeks, we’re cataloguing what the biggest broadcasters have actually acquired, commissioned, ordered and greenlit in 2021 in this new Who Bought What series.
Judging from the shows that were picked up by multiple public broadcasters around the world this year, a wide range of content is resonating with their kids and family audiences. Everything from blue heeler puppies and headstrong owls, to transgender youth and Egyptologists were front and center across a mix of animated and live-action offerings. Library content dominated with this buyer group, but a few fresh IPs are making their way to public-service airwaves in the coming months and years. Here’s a look at the kids content that was most in demand among pubcasters in 2021.
Dino Ranch—This 3D-animated series (pictured) from Toronto-based Boat Rocker and Industrial Brothers about a ranching family’s encounters with prehistoric beasts is anything but extinct, considering how many pubcasters snapped it up this year. In Canada, the CBC and its French-language, free-to-air channel SRC premiered the show in January, before it travelled to Germany’s Super RTL and TOGGO Plus, Poland’s TVP and Croatia’s HRT. Scandinavian broadcasters including NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland), SVT (Sweden) and DR (Denmark) also acquired the toon.
Bluey—Pubcasters kept on falling for the comedy-driven adventures of everyone’s favorite Aussie blue heeler puppy and her family. Produced by Australia’s Ludo Studio and originally co-commissioned by the ABC and BBC Studios in 2017, this 2D-animated series was acquired by Brit pubcaster CBeebies in March, with Ireland’s RTÉjr nabbing both seasons (104 x seven minutes) in October for its linear channel and VOD platform RTÉ Player.
Odo—Produced by Belfast-based Sixteen South and Polish animation studio Letko, this 2018 Cartoon Forum selection stars a little owl who attends a day camp for birds. The 52 x seven-minute toon took off this year, selling to German free-to-air channel KiKA, with pre-sales secured for ABC (Australia), TVOKids (Canada), RTÉ (Ireland), SVT (Sweden), NRK (Norway), S4C (Wales) and VRT Ketnet (Belgium).
Gigantosaurus—Since debuting worldwide on Disney Junior, France Télévisions and Super RTL (Germany) in 2019, this flagship preschool adventure series from Paris-based Cyber Group Studios has been on a hot streak with pubcasters. This year alone, NHK (Japan) and RTBF (Belgium) bought rights to the first season, while RAI (Italy) and SRC (Canada) took season two.
Where’s Chicky?—It was a big year for chickens on screen, and this trend was driven home by a raft of international sales for this non-dialogue short series from French studio Xilam Animation in September. In Europe, France Télévisions, YLE (Finland), NRK (Norway) and VRT (Flemish-speaking Belgium) all scooped up seasons one and two (104 x one minutes), as well as a 52 x one-minute third season that was delivered earlier this month. Elsewhere, SRC (Canada) bought seasons two and three.
DinoCity—Riki Group and Animax Production’s new 2D-animated adventure series for preschoolers about a family of dinosaurs living in a modern city struck numerous deals this year, with pay-TV rights going to MBC (MENA), and ERT (Greece), Ketnet (Belgium) and TG4 (Ireland) landing free-TV rights.
PJ Masks—Entertainment One’s hugely popular preschool show about a trio of pajama-clad superheroes who battle villains broadened its reach even further, with ABS-CBN (Philippines) picking up its 52 x 11-minute first season in June, and RTV (Indonesia) acquiring season two. Since premiering globally on Disney Junior in 2016, the show has aired in more than 150 territories.
Pikwik Pack—Following the global success of True and the Rainbow Kingdom, Toronto’s Guru Studio has another hit on its hands with new animated preschool series Pikwik Pack (52 x 11 minutes). This year, the series about a team of animals who deliver packages to the residents of a small town joined the schedules of Rai (Italy), YLE (Finland), Gloob (Brazil), TG4 (Ireland) and Mediacorp Okto (Singapore).
The Treehouse Stories—This hybrid series from Paris-based Dandelooo spread its roots all around the world in 2021, with North and South American sales to HITN (US), TFO (French-speaking Canada), TVN (Chile) and Pakapaka (Argentina) in May. In Europe, TV5 Monde (France), RTS (Switzerland), ETB (Spain), ERR (Estonia), HRT (Croatia), RTP (Portugal), Ceska Televize (Czech Republic) and LTV (Latvia) also picked up the 103 x seven-minute show. Originally produced for Canal+ by Dandelooo and French studio Caribara, The Treehouse Stories centers around a group of friends who meet in a secret treehouse to share and experience their favorite books.
Little Bear—Fifteen broadcast deals were struck in July for thjs 2D-animated series about a courageous bear from French prodco Supamonks Studio. New pubcasters that bought in include BBC Alba (UK), TFO (Canada), Globo (Brazil), Czeska Televize (Czech Republic), RTVS (Slovenia), Pakapaka (Argentina), MTVA (Hungary) and LTV (Latvia). France Télévisions premiered the 39 x seven-minute comedy in 2020, and it has since aired on SVT (Sweden), YLE (Finland), SRF (German-speaking Switzerland), RTS (French-speaking Switzerland) and TV5 Monde (France).
Clangers—Coolabi Group’s popular preschool series continued its global trek this year with sales of seasons one to three (104 x 11 minutes) to free-to-air channel KiKA (Germany); seasons two and three to Mediacorp (Singapore); season three to the Czech Republic’s Ceska Televize; and free-TV and VOD rights for season one to Croatia’s HRT. Co-produced by CBeebies, Coolabi Group and Smallfilms, the stop-motion series features a group of problem-solving aliens.
First Day—Aimed at kids ages five to nine, this GLAAD and International Emmy-winning series continued to grow its audience this year with sales to France Télévisions and Japanese pubcaster NHK. Created by Julie Kalceff, and produced by Epic in association with Kojo Entertainment, First Day stars a young transgender girl as she navigates her first year of high school. The four x 22-minute series originally premiered on Australian pubcaster ABC Me in March 2020.
Droners—This adventure-comedy series from Cyber Group Studios about a team of drone-racing kids continues to fly around the world. Season one of the 52 x 22-minute animated series for six to 10s was picked up by ABC (Australia), RTBF (Belgium) and RTS (Switzerland), while WDR (Germany) nabbed season two.
Odd Squad—Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment secured more buyers for its popular Emmy-winning STEM series about a team of young agents who solve unusual cases. The BBC (UK), SRC (Canada) and ABC Australia acquired seasons two and three (114 x 22 minutes), while TFO (Canada) picked up season one.
Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed!—Jetpack Distribution inked deals for Beano Studios’ animated comedy with France Télévisions (free -TV and VOD rights for season two) and Switzerland’s Radio Television Suisse (free-to-air and free VOD rights for season two). Aimed at six- to 11-year-olds, the 52 x 11-minute series tracks the mischievous doings of Dennis, his faithful canine sidekick and their group of friends.
Billy the Cowboy Hamster—Pubcasters were hot for hamsters this year, and the pocket-sized critters showed up in plenty of content. This particular series from French animation studio Ooolala got a lot of love in Europe, with pre-sales to Super RTL (Germany), DRTV (Denmark), SVT (Sweden), RTS (Switzerland), NRK (Norway) and TV5 Monde (France). Aimed at four to sevens, Billy the Cowboy Hamster (52 x 11 minutes) follows the titular hero as he lives out his dream of being a cowboy. In production now, the 2D-animated series was commissioned by France Télévisions in 2019.
Presto! School of Magic—It was a magical year for TeamTO’s 52 x 11-minute animated comedy, which was picked up by RTS (Switzerland), NRK (Norway) and Quebecor (French-speaking Canada). A Cartoon Forum selection from 2017, the series premiered in March on France’s M6, featuring a group of kids who attend a school for aspiring magicians.
The Little Prince and Friends—This new 2D-animated adaptation of The Little Prince from Paris-based production company ON Kids & Family and the Saint-Exupéry-d’Agay Estate was scooped up by France Télévisions, WDR (Germany), RAI (Italy) and Gloob (Brazil). In production now, the toon for four to sevens catches up with the Little Prince as he sets off with two kids from Earth on an space exploration adventure.
Elinor Wonders Why—PBS KIDS’ new animated adventure series (74 x 11 minutes) and its 55-minute special had plenty of global appeal this year, selling to Knowledge Network (Canada), YLE (Finland) and SVT (Sweden). Produced by Pipeline Studios, the show stars a curious young girl who learns new things about the world with her friends.
Theodosia—Time will tell if Cottonwood Media’s new Egyptian-themed adventure series will be as globally successful as its hit series Find Me in Paris. But if sales so far are any indication, the book adaptation is off to a great start. Set for a 2022 premiere on Germany’s ZDF, Globo in Brazil and France Télévisions (as well as HBO Max globally), Theodosia stars a teenage girl who uses magical powers to find and eliminate ancient curses in the early 20th century.