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Euro 50 > Leaders in broadband and pay-TV

Digital TV Europe November/December 2010

Paul Robinson Global CEO of KidsCo

Kids channel KidsCo, led by Paul Robinson, has continued to experience strong growth, now reaching 12 million homes across 94 countries.

Age 47

Education BSc Hons in metallurgy from Manchester University and MBA (with distinction) from Bradford University.

Previous positions Started PR Media Consulting Ltd in 2004; senior vice-president/managing director, Walt Disney Television International/ABC Cable Networks Group, 1998-2004; CEO of Talk Radio; managing editor, BBC Radio 1 and head of strategy, BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5Live; group programme director, Chiltern Radio Network.

Achievements of the year 2010 was another big year for us. KidsCo, now broadcast in 18 languages across 95 countries, reaching over 12 mil- lion homes, has grown rapidly over the past 12 months. The channel has focused on delivering quality ‘edutainment’ to children aged 6-10, preschoolers and families globally, including original programming such as Boo & Meand Jass Time!exclusive programming Dino Squadand The Beach Crewand much-loved classics including Sonic: Underground and The Wiggles. Key milestones include expansion into Australia, South Africa, Spain, Poland, and Singapore. The channel has kept program- ming fresh content through a steady stream of content deals with Fremantle, YFE and The Beach Crew, as well as original content pro- duced with Image Venture and UNICEF UK, producing programming in support of children’s rights. KidsCo also successfully launched a second channel, Big TV, targeting 8-14 year-olds in Africa. I am proud of the suc- cess that we’ve achieved and the pace that the channel has gained through the recession as we continue to expand globally.

Surprises of 2010 I think it is true to say that the downturn had an element of surprise for everyone. For the kids TV industry people became more cautious in terms of carriage deals. Last year was one of the slowest I have seen, and I have been in this business for many years. It wasn’t that we did less business; in fact, we almost doubled our rev- enues last year. What happened is that any deal that we did was either referred up to a more senior executive or possibly to the CFO, or took longer. There were more layers and processes required over the last year. That said, on the other side of the coin, it did us some good. A lot of platforms were looking to reduce their third-party programming costs, in the wake of the recession. That benefitted us, because when deals came up for renewal, there were a number of occasions where they asked if we could take the slot, rather than renew contracts with current broadcasters. The thinking was they could get the same or bet- ter quality programming for less money. So, by taking KidsCo, they main- tained and improved their offer to consumers, and saved some cash.

Goals for next year There are three main drivers shaping the next 12 months; grow in markets where we do not currently have a presence, deepen the penetration in the territories that we do and source new content, both original and existing content that comes under ‘edutain-

ment’ for children aged 6-10, preschoolers and families. In western Europe, we are in talks with a number of the major satellite platforms, so we are intent on building on the success we have seen with platforms like Foxtel in Australia. We want to colour in the map and deepen our penetration with some of those big DTH platforms in Europe. Next year will be the year we will really focus on getting a UK platform partner. We have developed a unique proposition to help us on our way called MyKidsCo. MyKidsCo looks like television and feels like television, but it is your television. Effectively, children can have their own dedicated pin number and can make choices about things that they like, and the chan- nel is adapted to their own personal taste, as opposed to the scheduler trying to serve them. This is made possible through software that is being developed by a company in France for us. We are planning to roll this out next year, and then extend this into other territories.

Game-changing future development VOD and non-linear platforms are set to grow exponentially as kids are becoming savvier about the viewing technologies available. The animation business has an opportu- nity to develop content that will excite children across all these plat- forms. The internet is a medium that adds to the TV experience and is a place to try out new things. I think what we are seeing at the moment is very interesting. In the UK there is a definite sense of transition amongst all of the free-to-air broadcasters. I think what we are seeing, and will continue to see, is that multichannel and pay-TV are incredibly strong but there is this challenge of digital-terrestrial TV. The challenge for pay- broadcasters is to continue to maintain the relationship they have with the customer and to provide added-value. Customers are attracted by getting content directly and watching on a PC is clearly becoming com- pelling. But, I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the satellite plat- form, which actually is the gateway between the content and the cus- tomer. It is a very important gateway that provides value, quality and service. I think that is the challenge for pay broadcasters.

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