In the five years since its inception, under Margie Cohn, Comcast/NBCUniversal-owned DreamWorks Animation Television (DWA TV) has seen extraordinary growth that has included a multi-year deal with Netflix as well partnerships with Hulu, Amazon, Universal Kids and other broadcasters around the world.
As part of the studio’s global initiatives, Cohn and her team are also tasked with creating original animated programming inspired by DreamWorks Animation and Universal Pictures’ franchises and feature films, as well projects based on original and acquired IP.
The recently expanded Netflix deal will see animated series Fast & Furious — based on the Universal movie franchise — debut on the subscription video-on-demand service.
“Netflix has been an incredible partner,” Cohn said. “They buy shows they believe in and then let producers make the shows they bought. They invested heavily in us when they were just getting into kids originals and we’ve collectively learned so much since then.” Streaming platforms enable the creative process, she said, as “there are no set formats or narrow demos to squeeze into. That really gives an assist to innovation.”
With five years at DWA TV and before that a long stay at Nickelodeon, Cohn has considerable experience of the kids’ market and an understanding of how to survive it. “We hire great people who have a specific point of view, and then we do everything we can to help them make their best work,” she said, adding: “We are committed to excellence and to finding unique, fresh voices. We know that kids are sophisticated media consumers and that we have to reflect even imagined worlds with authenticity. If you’re making great, sticky, compelling shows you will find an audience. We have to reflect even imagined worlds with authenticity”.
During her time in the kids content business Cohn said she has acquired a sense of duty towards the impressionable audiences she serves. “Throughout my career I have been sensitive to the fact that we are on the front line of a kid’s first exposure to media,” she said. “I feel a great responsibility to offer programmes that depict a wide range of characters that reflect the beautiful variety of people in the world. We offer stories that will amuse and delight but also give kids a chance to feel the panoply of emotions that good, resonant stories provide.”
At her keynote presentation the MIPJunior audience will hear how DWA TV has grown over a brief five years to become “the largest untethered studio making quality animated content for kids and families”. She added: “And while I don’t have a crystal ball for what the future holds for our industry, I look forward to sharing how DreamWorks endeavours to stay ahead in these ever-changing times.”
This MIPJunior keynote takes place on Sunday, October 14 at 17.00 in the Grand Theatre, JW Marriott hotel. More about MIPJunior conferences here.
This interview is extracted from the MIPJunior Preview, the event’s official magazine, which you can consult in full here.
Top photo: Alex J. Berliner © ABImages