MIPTV Kids Summit: TV experts urge producers to get in the game

The future of kids TV is leaning towards digital-first more than ever as gaming and social video continue to dazzle kids and drive engagement, noted media experts including Evan Shapiro.
April 19, 2023

By Jeremy Dickson and Ryan Tuchow

Now that disruptors like Netflix are being disrupted, where does the kids TV industry go next? This was one of the key questions posed at MIPTV’s Future of Kids TV Summit, which took place yesterday in Cannes, France.

How the kids entertainment industry can keep up with today’s youngest generation, Gen Alpha, was a recurring theme as presenters including media cartographer Evan Shapiro and Dubit’s Adam Woodgate provided compelling evidence of today’s changing media landscape for this audience.

Today’s kids are disruptors themselves, noted Ashley Fell, a researcher and trends analyst at Sydney-based McCrindle. Spending their time gaming on Roblox and Fortnite, and watching videos of other people playing games, is changing the way the business operates. 

Gen Alpha’s main differentiator is that they’re “digitally integrated,” said Fell. Producers need to acknowledge the fact that TikTok is their top search engine, and most want to be famous YouTubers when they grow up. Doing business for this demo—which is so large that by 2025, Gen Alphas (born 2010 to 2024) will be the largest generation in the history of the world—means embracing their “co-creator spirit.”  

More than ever, kids want to be part of creating the media they consume, Fell said, adding that engaging these kids means providing content that helps them find their values and purpose. 

Leaning into all the disruption is key, not just for success in the business, but for basic survival, said Evan Shapiro, a media expert and professor at NYU Stern School of Business. His pitch was for producers to take a “yes, and” approach with content strategies, developing content digitally first instead of waiting for a TV deal. 

The future of TV is Roblox, he argued. With all the time kids spend watching people playing games on the platform, it’s inevitable that someone will launch a TV series there. Companies should be moving into the lucrative world of gaming sooner rather than later. “Be brave enough to greenlight yourself,” said Shapiro. “Instead of spending US$100,000 on a sizzle reel, develop content on TikTok and YouTube and establish an IP online.” 

Evan Shapiro, professor and media expert at MIPTV.

Evan Shapiro, professor and media expert at MIPTV.

Some creators are starting to parlay TikTok success into TV deals, said Virgina Mouseler, CEO of market research firm The WIT. As an example, live-action series Nikki’s Makeup Mansion, featuring TikTok celeb Nikki de Jager (nikkietutorials), launched on Dutch kids broadcaster NPO Zapp launched in January. 

TV isn’t dead, however. Kids worldwide still enjoy watching scheduled linear broadcasts at times so they can have a lean-back viewing experience, said Adam Woodgate, SVP of media trends at Dubit. (See Sky Kids’ new linear strategy as evidence of this.) 

One of the main undercurrents of the event’s presentations was that kids need positivity and inspiration. 

“Producers need to make content that interests, instructs, involves and inspires the kids,” Fell said. And Shapiro put it even more bluntly: “Stop greenlighting the apocalypse; we need to greenlight inspiration.” 

In other MIPTV news, the event’s closing press conference revealed that 5,650 delegates attended this year’s event, a 22% increase from last year, with around 1,580 buyers at the market. Next year’s event will be held from April 15 to 17. 

“I know there’s been talk around uncertainty with markets, but I can tell you that MIPTV is here to stay,” said MIPTV director Lucy Smith at the market’s closing press conference.

Pictured, Lucy Smith, director of MIPTV. Photos courtesy of Ryan Tuchow.

About The Author



Brand Menu