Who needs broadcasters? On digital content, YouTube and discoverability

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TaDaKidsWith the advent of YouTube, media companies now have a unique opportunity to bypass broadcast and connect directly with consumers. Christopher Skala, Co-Founder & CEO, TaDaKids Ltd, who have recently launched the first portfolio of 16 YouTube Pre-school Channels, will be speaking at The London Book Fair on what this kind of production, brand and IP model looks like. Here are some of his insights ahead of the talk.

We can’t keep going on the way we have in kids TV. In fact, why kids TV? Why make content for broadcast anymore?

It’s just too painful, difficult and unrewarding. The power structure inherent in commissioning and licensing content creates a fundamentally skewed and unpleasant playing field for content creators and producers. The emotional rewards are risible; and the financial rewards even more so.

It’s time for a fundamental change.

Here’s something to chew over

The shortest time it ever took me to source, develop, finance and produce a TV show was three and-a-half years. That was MIKE THE KNIGHT. One show. Three-and-a-half years. That’s the quickest, and a little unheard-of (unless you work in Canada or France, which both have protectionist, subsidised markets).

In five months, from September 2015 to January 2016, my creative partners and I conceived, developed, produced and delivered for YouTube eight brand new shows. Eight shows. Five months. Over 14 hours of content. All at less than the cost of one 11-minute episode of MIKE THE KNIGHT.

That makes me very excited and feeling good about creating engaging kids content, the first time I’ve felt that way in over ten years. We’ll be creating six more shows before the end of July; and a further nine before the end of next January.

25 shows. One year and four months.

Where’s the catch?

There has to be one, right? Yes, there is a catch. But before I get to what it is, let me also add in the further experiential joy of creating content without any input from broadcasters, distributors, and toy companies (I decline to be drawn into characterising said input. You may infer what you will). The only people I’m answerable to is the audience.

So, the ‘catch’. The catch is… ‘discoverability’. With over 400 hours of content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, the landscape is getting pretty darned crowded. The platform is also exhibiting strong signs of Network Advantage (to them that have, comes more…).

How does new, innovative and original content cut through?

I don’t know, is the honest answer. At TaDaKids, we’re trying everything short of paying for AdWords, which in itself would render our business model null-and-void. Growth-hacking seems to be the groovy marketing term of the moment (we’re trying that). Off YouTube distribution (we’re trying that). Celebrity performers (we’re trying that). YouTube audience optimisation Best Practices (we’re trying that). And a whole lot more.

It’s too early to tell whether we will be successful. I hope we will be, because what we’re betting on is a generalised and easily applicable model of new content funding which is important for everyone in this business, not just us. If it works for us, it can work for you, too. Imagine that.

Christopher was formerly Head of TV Sales & Strategy for three years at Guinness World Records. Before that, he was SVP, Progamming at HiT Entertainment; and before that, at Tiger Aspect. Before that, doesn’t really matter much anymore.