Why ABC Kids is the power behind iview

For ABC Kids exec Libby Doherty, digital is king -driving a whopping 60% of iview traffic.

Nabbing a big overnight ratings number may be pivotal for most new television shows, but not for ABC KIDS and ABC ME titles.

For Libbie Doherty, ABC Head of Children’s Production, the focus is all about ABC iview -and who can blame her when you break down the numbers?

“We are 60% of iview, for children’s content combined. It’s the power behind iview. It’s where we’re pivoting the creation of content,” she tells TV Tonight.

“Our dramas and comedies are much more narrative. In the old days we used to have episodic shows where we just put them anywhere in the schedule. Now we want things that have an arc.

“I think the kids channels have moved quicker because the audience is already there, more than say, the main channel, which has got a bigger audience to serve across a broad range of ages. Whereas we’re very conscious that (digital) is where the kids are, which is why they have their own apps, they’ve got iview, Kids Listen, which has its own app, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page for parents.”

“It just astounds me that they don’t see that”

ABC’s focus on kids’ content comes at a time when commercial networks are laregly reducing their Childrens’ output. Seven has publicly stated it would prefer to vacate the space entirely.

“It blows my mind, considering 60% of iview is children’s and it’s the same on every streaming platform. So it just astounds me that they don’t see that,” says Doherty.

Ludo Studios produced Bluey is unquestionably the superstar on iview (as well as multichannels and Timeshifting) but not the only local title drawing eyeballs. ABC recently launched The Wonder Gang and in December animated series Kangaroo Beach.

“People loved the whole water-safety element. We’re hearing people are telling their parents how to be water safe,” she continues.

“We just launched Space Nova and 100% Wolf launched. Animations all take a little bit longer to make. We’re just working through what’s going to come next on the animation slate, but it’s a core part of the audience. Strange Chores series 2 is a Ludo show in production, so that will come out next year.”

A second season of award-winning Hardball is due soon with more Bluey later this year. BMX series Maverix, currently filming in Alice Springs and spy comedy, Parent Up, will screen next year.

L to R: Libbie Doherty, Chika Ikogwe

Coming in May is  scripted factual series Mikki vs the World. It stars Nigerian-Australian actor Chika Ikogwe as psychologist Mikki exploring a variety of mental health issues experienced by ABC ME’s teen audience: Resilience, Toxic Friends, Peer Pressure, ASD, Sibling Rivalry, Identity Crisis, Social Media Addiction, Depression and more.

ABC producers collaborated with Australian counselling service for young people, Kids Helpline, to develop the series.

“There’s kind of the science and the emotional but cleverly done through song and dance in silly costumes. The Depression episode has a panda character who represents depression but it’s very playful,” Doherty explains.

“Hiding the vegetables in the bolognaise”

“It does exactly what we like to do all the time: hiding the vegetables in the bolognaise, so kids don’t know…

“All of that strategy is sitting behind what’s presented to kids, which is a really fun show. Because otherwise they’d run a mile.

“It gives parents some strategies for kids.”

Next on the horizon for ABC Kids titles is family viewing and co-viewing.

“We’ll move into the comedy / family space, in the next half-year plan,” she reveals.

“We’re trying to do different things. Language content is something that we’re really interested in. If you’ve got a family dynamic… everyone speaks English at school, but there might be a specific cultural language at home.

“Kids are watching English language programs with subtitles so we’re going to just lean heavily into that in the 8+ area.”

Mikki vs the World premieres 5pm Sunday May 9 on ABC ME.

5 Responses

  1. Parents are happy to let their children watch the kids app for iview, where all they can watch is kids shows and ads for kids shows. And at a time that suits the parents, not at breakfast, homework, bathtime or dinner. They will not let them sit infront of commerical TV full of ads for expensive toys and can flick over to whatever else is on if no one is watching.

    The audience kids shows can generate on commerical TV was 6000. Which is why the commerical networks were losing millions meeting their licence requirments. There is far more kids TV available than kids should watch, the key thing is that kids are watching some quality shows alongside enterment. The ABC is doing a good job at that, with few exceptions like Round The Twist commerical TV doesn’t.

  2. I am quite certain that the commercial stations are acutely aware of the number of views they could obtain with children’s programming.

    The problem is – who is going to pay for it (i.e. what commercials would they run).

    The do-gooders have wiped out the main level of income e.g. Happy Meals, the Milky Bar Kid and games like Mousetrap.

    Clothing, even if the fruit was interested would be vetoed by social media hounds afraid of children becoming an I-want culture (forgetting they were young once).

    So who’s left to pay for it?

  3. The ABC Kids department is the hardest working, most astonishingly good groups of expert professionals at the ABC. Through funding cut after funding cut they have continued to produce world-class work that constantly feels under-appreciated by the higher-ups.

    What an unbelievable stat that is – testament to the efforts of the whole team there.

  4. In my childhood, ABC had a couple of hours or so in the morning and a couple of hours or so in the afternoon dedicated to children’s programming. The quality of programming was very good. From Play School, For The Juniors, The Ferals, etc to the more older age programs like Round The Twist, Lift Off and the quality imported shows. It has come a long way to have dedicated multichannels and a radio station now.

    I would like to suggest SBS take on an hour or so at least a day for multi-ethnic or multi-lingual children’s programming. Or content that would explore foreign language words and meanings. Go Lingo was good in that sense. Language is an important part of childhood learning and brain development. It’s now a common part of early childhood and primary learning at many schools, especially in the big cities.

    1. I’ve made a formal, detailed and personal suggestion to SBS regarding this as it might be beyond the scope of ABC children’s programming and educational content.

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