Debbie Macdonald: Could you please introduce yourself?

Dea Connick Perez: My role is Vice President of Content Strategy and Acquisitions for Universal Kids. To simplify, I oversee where all our content goes, whether it’s the linear channel schedule or if it’s on FVOD, online or YouTube. I also oversee all the acquisitions that we do for the Universal Kids brand which also includes our preschool brand Sprout. I have held similar positions over the years at Qubo in the US, Discovery Kids, Cartoon Network and Boomerang and Nickelodeon/Nick-At-Nite/TVLand. Kids TV is what I like best of all! I am at 30 Rock in New York now, and ironically it is where I started my career in college as an intern in the local radio division that used to be on the 2nd floor. Not much has changed yet a LOT has changed here at this famous building!


> What do you think is the most innovative thing in TV now, and why?

There are so many new developments in TV right now and we are all just starting to figure it out and enjoy the full benefits of it all! What excites me most is a series that we are launching in October called The Noise – it’s a game show that has some great interactive elements to it. I get very excited when a show that is perceived to be a passive media experience actually turns out to be very interactive. Kids have grown up with so many different ways to watch TV so giving them that opportunity everywhere we can is what we need to be doing for our audience.


> How do you ensure that what you acquire retains the attention of the cord-cutting, multi-screen generation?

At Universal Kids, we’re making sure that we have our content everywhere that kids are and where they want it to be so its essential that we either own all those digital rights or we acquire them. We look for the best content from all over the world as we want to show the world to our audience. The majority of the series we had picked up are from international producers and are the most popular shows outside our territory. I think we will keep that eye open to new formats that are proven around the globe.


> Is the playing field more level in the digital age? To what extent is the ‘traditional’ system (pitching to a Commissioner) still important and how do you see that system evolving?

The playing field has changed a little but you still need to have a great idea and someone to make that great idea a reality – so things have shifted a bit but overall haven’t changed too much as we all are evolving because we all need to survive. We all have to keep thinking progressively and keep our minds open to new types of deals and new partners to do these deals with. If the content is good, then do what you need to do to get it if you know it will work for your audience. New partnerships can be time consuming, but often are worth it in the end.


> What is your favourite TV show/IP today and why?

I am a HUGE sports fan so I pretty much love watching any live sporting event. You name it and I love to watch. There’s something about the live aspect of it, which satisfies my need for excitement, and the competition is always fierce in sport. I also watch new sports (to me at least) as well since I have a lot of international channels on my system I get to tune into sports that we don’t get to play in the US. I also watch as a programmer to see how the different channels handle live events where you never know what’s going to happen!


> How will TV’s golden age continue post Game of Thrones?

TV will be just fine – it may not just live on a traditional box or screen in your living room only but it will evolve, as it should. It is a creative industry and we will find ways of keeping up with the audience’s demands and luckily because we are in kids, we will deal with it first in many ways. For kids, animation will always be popular and we are having good success with junior versions of many adult and family series.  And as good and as bad as some series may be, reality may be here to stay.


This is the latest in a series of posts from MIPCOM 2017’s MIPBlog Ambassadors, a panel of industry experts, coordinated by consultant Debbie MacDonald, who’ll be sharing their insight here in the run-up to MIPCOM this October. Stay tuned for more!

About Author

Debbie Macdonald is a children’s media consultant. She was formerly VP, programming director at Nickelodeon UK, having worked in acquisitions at the BBC.

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