CHILDREN: Children’s drama gives collaboration an extra boost

The Nordic children’s channels will close ranks even more through a new commitment: the co-production of at least 14 drama series per year. These channels have a key advantage that not even global giants such as Netflix and Disney are able to beat, says the head of DR Children’s TV.

Following in the footsteps of adult drama, the children’s editorial teams in
the Nordvision partnership have made a new, formalised commitment to
collaborate. This will provide young adult viewers and the very young with a minimum of 14 new Nordic drama series each year.

B14 is inspired by the N12 collaboration on drama, in a context where
competition for children’s content is tougher than ever while budgets are
also under pressure. In addition, the broadcasters want to extend their
target audiences to include the very youngest children.

Of course we can get scared by the major global players, but we can also turn this on its head and consider what unique possibilities we have for differentiating ourselves.

Morten Skov Hansen, DR

These challenges call for closer Nordic cooperation, says Morten Skov
Hansen, head of DR Ramasjang and DR Ultra.

”We’re facing many of the same challenges, and we benefit greatly from
knowledge exchange and discussing ideas with our peers. Each team has
high ambitions, and this helps us ensure that we keep each other focused.”

Taking over entire production setup from SVT

The Nordic children’s departments engage in co-production as well as
content exchange. This may include taking each other’s content and
making it their own, as with the DR fiction series Baseboys, which SVT
adopted and turned into Up4Noise.

However, SVT has created a production setup for a dinosaur series in a TV
studio, which DR will get to use as an entire unit – including all the productions crew and contents setup, but with a Danish host – as soon as the Swedes have finished filming. And there are several very tangible examples of the benefits gained by joint Nordic cooperation, the DR editor believes. Both NRK and SVT have expanded their offerings to include universes for the very youngest aged 1 to 4, and DR now has a similar channel on the way.

”We build on insights gained by NRK regarding the composition of images, use of colours and how children pick up visual information. And from SVT, we’re inspired by their ways of using gestures in singing games,” Morten Skov Hansen explains.

Immensely local is more relatable

External competition in the children’s category has increased in
recent years, most recently with Disney’s streaming service entering
the Nordic market.

”Disney+ is simply an amplification of the challenge already presented
by Netflix through their massive investments in marketing, which is an
integral part of working in an international market.”

However, having a global starting point comes with its own limitations,
according to Morten Skov Hansen.

The challenges posed by international streaming services call
for closer Nordic cooperation, says Morten Skov Hansen, head of DR
Ramasjang and DR Ultra. Photo: DR

”Our content doesn’t have to work in Spain, Asia or South America. We have an immensely local foundation, and this is far more recognisable and relatable than any TV show that has to work globally.” Morten Skov Hansen believes that we have far more similarities than differences in the Nordic region.

DR pushed the boundaries ”with Ultra smider tøjet”

Human bodies are all very different. DR helped to demystify this topic for child audiences in
Ultra smider tøjet. Photo: DR

”We have a clear affinity and a set of values for ‹a proper chil dhood’. We also dare to deal with topics that may be difficult – things you’d never come across in Disney’s universe,” he explains, quoting Ultra smider tøjet as one example. This programme has adult guests of all shapes and sizes, some with tattoos or piercings, appearing naked. One of its key aims is to go against the idealised image of how people should look.

Of course we can get scared

Morten Skov Hansen helped to launch DR Ultra ten years ago, but since then he has worked at international giants such as Time Warner, Discovery and Cartoon Networks before returning to DR.

”And today it’s clear to me what a huge privilege it is that we’re able to handle the task in such a clear-cut way. ”Of course we can get scared by the major global players, but we can also turn this on its head and consider what unique possibilities we have for differentiating ourselves,” he says, quoting another example.

”We produce newscasts for children. You’ll never see that happening at Disney.”