Ad-free KidsCo lean, green but not so mean.
It's a tricky time to be launching a new kid's channel but TV Tonight learns KidsCo has trimmed its operational costs to run ad-free children's programming.
KidsCo is one of the Subscription TV’s newest channels. Owned jointly by NBC Universal, LA-based Cookie Jar and Canada’s Corus Entertainment, the channel has been in operation since 2007 when it commenced in Eastern European countries.
On Sunday, Australia became its 60th territory, where it is now running ad-free. In the Pay TV market the channel has set itself up to run at low cost in order to avoid advertising.
Managing Director Paul Robinson told TV Tonight, “When we set KidsCo up we deliberately decided not to be an advertising-reliant business. There are some markets in the world where it’s actually illegal to advertise to kids. There are there markets where there are heavy restrictions on fatty foods. And there are other markets where they (the platforms) don’t want advertising, such as Australia.
“What we did was attack the cost base. One of things about most channels, including most of the kids channels in Australia, is that they playout on tape. It’s very expensive in terms of all the players you need to do that. It costs money to ship tapes around the world, things can go wrong –it’s just messy to run a taped service.”
KidsCo has signed a five year deal with Foxtel and Austar, and will survive purely on subscriptions.
“In the initial year we’ll be investing but over the course of the deal well make money and be profitable,” Robinson explains.
It also operates entirely as a digitally-based network.
“We receive the tapes, ingest them into our digital server, and then we send the tapes back and we never see them again. So then we’ve got a digital file which we can send around the world at zero or marginal cost. We can also add language tracks, because we’re in 15 different languages now,” he says.
“It takes a massive amount of cost out of the business and that’s why we can operate at lower cost than the other channels and still make a healthy profit.”
Robinson, who spent 7 years as Senior Vice President/Managing Director for Walt Disney Television/ABC Cable Networks Group, says the channel also only has one meeting a week.
“We don’t have meetings because people can just talk across the desk. Programming can go and talk to Marketing or Legal or Finance. If you work at Disney you spend half your life doing internal meetings. That’s fine, but it’s not productive in terms of serving customers. So we’ve really streamlined everything.
“The other thing is we try not to use too much paper, either. If you can avoid paper you can avoid work. Because once you’ve got paper you’ve got to photocopy it, send it round and all that kind of stuff.”
KidsCo will target what Robinson describes as “a gap” in the children’s market. He says CBeebies and Playhouse Disney offer preschooler entertainment while Nickelodeon and Disney target tween girls aged 8-14.
“The gap is really kids 6 – 10 which we’re going to super serve. But also we’re going for an environment that’s safe. There are other channels like Cartoon Network and Boomerang also on Foxtel but they tend to be boy-skewed with a lot of action and adventure and frankly quite a lot of violence.
“So we’re positioning ourselves as a safe destination with great quality, great shows from around the world. If your child is watching KidsCo you know they’re not going to see anything that’s inappropriate.”
Titles to appear on the channel include Dino Squad (pictured), Paddington Bear, Mario Brothers, Dennis the Menace, Sherlock Holmes, Pocahontas, Dinosaur Island, Beauty & The Beast, Hercules, Mulan, The Archies, Jingle Bell Rock and The Enchanted Mountain.
It will also offer family movies at 7pm on weekends.
The channel later hopes to have Australian programming. For now it will add an Aussie flavour with promos using Australian voices.
“We’ve been out filming kids doing shout-outs. So the kids will appear in the links. Talking about watching KidsCo, surfing, being at school, playing with their friends,” Robinson says.
“This is a long term relationship about contributing to the Australian market and giving more choice, more value and we’re very excited.”
KidsCo is now airing on Foxtel and Austar.