Children's Platform Questions & Answers


Overview

NZ On Air and TVNZ announced in June 2017 a collaboration to create a locally curated online home for children's video and interactive content.

We held a workshop in July 2017 with children’s content makers and storytellers in attendance. The following questions were raised. This list of questions will continue to be updated and added to as we continue to have conversations with the local production community.

Latest update 10 August - all those questions below marked with * are new or updated.


Questions

Content

Timing

Applying / Commissioning

Rights and IP

Contracting

Technical

The nuts and bolts of it all

Inspiration

Anything else? 

Send us your questions.


Answers

Content

The Content Framework
This is the framework that will underpin the project. This document outlines the principles and motivations for the project. It will support our content assessment and funding decisions, feed into the overall strategy and be our sounding board as we develop the site and apps.

What kind of content are you looking for?
We are open to all kinds of content suggestions. Our current preferences based on successful global case studies and best practices in children’s media are for proposals that celebrate and focus on:

  • Diverse NZ stories and characters  
    Why: Reflecting the different aspects of NZ
  • Weird and different, funny and fun content themes 
    Why: Engaging and relevant
  • Formats aimed at children that have family-viewing appeal  
    Why: Shared viewing experiences
  • Informative and identity-building  
    Why: Curiosity and self-growth
  • Super short-form (e.g. up to 15”) 
    Why: Online at heart
  • Volume is critical 
    Why: Enough local content to stand out and drive repeat engagement
  • Interactive and creative 
    Why: Encouraging imaginative learning
  • Mobile portrait layouts 
    Why: Device-friendly and accessible

What is the balance of acquisition vs commission?
At this stage there is no fixed percentage of acquisition vs commissioned content for the site.

Can older, pre-published content live on this platform?
If it is still relevant for children then yes, it can live on this platform. We are identifying the content that might be available. If you have existing content that might be suitable or any other suggestions, we welcome them. Please contact Amie Mills.

What is the balance of local vs foreign content?
We do not have a set percentage in mind at this stage. We have said that the site will be “Proudly New Zealand”, both in its look and feel, its values, and of course its content. International content will be carefully selected to complement local.

What about content from other platforms or media providers?
We are keen to work with other platforms and providers wherever possible. This will not be a ring-fenced TVNZ-content platform and we will look to collaborate, integrate and embed content from multiple sources.

Will there be a move away from magazine-style content?
There will be a whole range of content types, in forms best suited for online viewing. Traditional magazine content - namely information-based content - for TV is longer duration: for the site shorter bursts will be better. We will look for opportunities to repurpose TV series content for online viewing on this platform.

How will this platform live alongside Tamariki Ha – Maori TV’s children’s content for TV and online.
We’re sure there will be areas where we can help each other.

Will content be moderated?
Yes, content on the site will be curated and moderated.

Are you interested in Behind the Scenes material as well?
Yes - if it makes sense to the context of the show and to the needs of your audience to include additional BTS or making-of material and you have it available, then please let us know about that when we come to discuss acquisition of existing content.

If you are working on new commissioned material and you are hoping to create this kind of extra video content then please include that extended content proposition in your proposal that you submit for funding.

How will you handle User-Generated-Content and comments forums?
We are not sure yet. We feel UGC in particular is an important proposition for this audience but it will require significant technical and human resource to have it embedded across the platform/s in terms of management and moderation. We are currently exploring opportunities around enabling UGC functionality as part of a competition mechanic for the platform/s. If your project / content proposition already caters for this type of interactivity and architecture for dialogue then we’d love to understand that better in your proposal for funding.

What will be the balance of entertainment vs education?
The site is primarily an ‘after school’ experience - so the focus is on content that is fun for children versus content that feels like it’s a homework-trap. However, we know children love to learn, so appealing content that educates and informs them is absolutely something we care about and welcome as content ideas. This will be especially important for games.

What about Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality?
MR and VR will be a harder proposition to fund for this project as they’re not readily-accessible enough in New Zealand yet to reach a wide audience of children. The options for AR will be dependent on the technical / app solution used to deliver the experience and how that can easily integrate with this brand / platform.

Does a series have to have an episodic structure like it does currently for broadcast?
There is no fixed duration or number of episodes required for content on this platform.

Will you fund native apps for smartphones and tablets?
Yes, for the right idea we will.

For episodic projects, how many episodes are you looking for?
As many as makes sense for that story / idea. There is no pre-determined minimum or maximum for number of episodes.

For games, are you looking for a template-like approach (i.e. reskinning a fixed game mechanic with different story characters / assets) or will you consider bespoke game development for individual games?
At this point we are open to both approaches. If a games development team wants to pitch a white-label game mechanic (or AR app etc.) in then we are interested in exploring that opportunity. We are interested to speak further with the gaming / tech community to get recommendations on this and to hear what options are best suited to this 5-9 audience.

Will the site be bilingual?
Not entirely. We aim to weave te reo through the content as much as possible and in some cases content may be primarily (or all) in te reo, but the site will not be fully bilingual.

Will we be acquiring any live action drama from Australia / UK?
We will be looking for great drama content from around the world. If you have ideas, please say.

How will What Now-type content be represented on the site?
It will be up to the producers to propose how studio/magazine style content could best be repurposed for the site.

Will there be a link through to the TVNZ site - a click through on the logo?
Probably not - we aim to keep the site as contained as possible so that parents know this is a trusted base for their children.

Will there be information for parents - about parenting?
Not at this stage: the focus on content for the site is on children. This could potentially expand in a later stage, but these plans have not yet been made.

What if I have content that's already created that could go in the site?
If you require additional funding to get content ready for the site, then please apply through Eric with all the relevant details of what you have and what you need. If you don't require funding then please get in touch with Amie Mills in the first instance to discuss options.

Timing

What are the timings for both content and for the launch of this platform?
We are aiming to launch the platform around March/April 2018. More specific dates will be available closer to the time.

To keep the site fresh and encourage ongoing visits we will need content ready prior to launch and also new content arriving right throughout the year post-launch. So while we do want a body of new and exciting content to be ready for launch we will also welcome regular delivery of content across the year.

The current NZOA funding round is the one to apply to for any content to be supplied during the first year of the site’s operation.

Applying / Commissioning

When submitting to Eric - do we need to have an affiliated broadcast partner?
If your application relates to content for the online platform only then you do not need to have a broadcast partner. If you have secured a broadcast outcome, you will still need to confirm the commitment to the project in the standard way.

If you are proposing idea/s that have both TV broadcast and digital content outcomes for the platform, we recommend submitting one proposal with costs broken down separately for TV / digital content. This will obviously be easier to do if the digital component is clearly separate and contained. If the digital component consists (for example) of extended content that will be created at the time of production for a show then we understand why splitting the budget out is difficult. In instances like this, we recommend you identify as clearly as you can what components are being creating specifically for the platform, and any budget impacts you can identify in relation to this extended content creation.

Within Eric, the broadcaster will be able to confirm the broadcast commitment in the standard way. The digital content component will be assessed separately by a panel made up of NZ On Air, TVNZ and external assessors.

Is a commitment from TVNZ required for content to be accepted to this platform?
A commitment from TVNZ is not required for projects that are for the platform only, or for content which is commissioned for another broadcaster or platform.

How does the application process work?
Applications made through Eric will be assessed by a panel made up of NZ On Air, TVNZ and external assessors. If you are not registered with Eric please register now. Once you're registered and logged in you'll have access to your dashboard, which will show all the open funding rounds, and any applications you have made or have in progress.

For applications for the children's platform - select the Scripted & Factual funding round.

If the content is proposed for the platform only, select “New Children’s Site” as the primary commissioning platform in Eric, and all applications will be assessed by the panel.

 

 

 

 

 

How will the assessment process work?
There will be a 5-step assessment process as follows:

  • Applications deadline: 10 August
  • Eligibility review: 11 August – 17 August
    • NZ On Air will compile a long list of projects that clearly meet criteria.
    • Long list sent to assessors.
  • Long-list assessment: 18 August – 25 August
    • Four assessors: three from TVNZ and NZ On Air, plus one external assessor, will agree a shortlist.
  • Short list assessment: 28 August – 4 September
    • Short-listed proposals and assessment sheets to Content Advisory Panel assessors including Head of Funding at NZ On Air, GM Digital Content at TVNZ, and two external assessors.
    • Recommendations made to NZ On Air
  • NZ On Air Board ratification: 27 September
  • NZOA funding confirmation: 28 September

What’s the story with co-investment?
Co-investment in production budgets remains a priority for NZ On Air where possible. There is no specific amount set: as usual, the amount and source of additional contributions to the production budget will be considered in the assessment of applications.

There are tight sponsorship and co-investment guidelines however because this child-centred site will have a high standard of social responsibility. 

TVNZ’s Commercial and Sales teams may also be in a position to help producers. Please contact Amie Mills to discuss this further.

What audience data will be available to producers to help them secure other investors in this new world?
We will be transparent about analytics on the site. We aim to provide as much data as possible to producers regarding the use of, views and interaction with their content. For broadcast ratings, TVNZ will approach this as they currently do.

Will there ever be a brief like there is with a commission for broadcast TV i.e. no# of episodes, duration, etc?
Not yet. We are open to all kinds of structures and ideas for shows or concepts for the site. There is unlikely to be a prescriptive formula for what we want as this is a digitally-led platform project and therefore is not impacted by broadcast TV-led constraints such as duration.

Once the platform is live, we might consider specific criteria for future rounds if we can see where there are clear content gaps and when we can assess which content is being received most enthusiastically.

Is NZOA going to be able to acquire/commission enough content to get kids engaged and for them to continue to be engaged?
Yes that is the plan.

Will $ be ring-fenced for this in the upcoming funding round?
No. There is a stated priority for applications for this 5-9 year old audience that will be for the site, however there is no specifically ring-fenced fund just for this content.

Is this the only round that we can apply to?
At this stage yes, this is the annual funding round that children’s applications can come to. Any future round in this financial year is dependent on funds available and whether we are satisfied with the range of projects supported in September.

How will proposals supported by a broadcaster other than TVNZ be treated?
Proposals submitted to Eric that are attached to a non-TVNZ broadcaster will be reviewed separately by NZOA and external assessors.

Will there be a development fund?
There will not specifically be development funding for projects intended for the children’s platform. For higher budget productions, where multiple investors are likely to be involved, it may be possible to apply for development funding through the usual approach.

If my application is for a game, do I also need a broadcast outcome?
No. You can apply with online-only ideas - gaming or video.

What should my 2-minute pitch video be?
Whatever you want it to be. It can be you pitching to camera for 2-minutes, prototype content, pilot content, a look-and-feel reel etc.

Will the platform be recognised for the SPG?
Initially probably not. However this will be an ongoing conversation and ultimately yes, we would hope it would qualify.

Who will have oversight of the commissioning model?
Both NZ On Air (Head of Funding) and TVNZ (Project Content Director) will regularly review the commissioning model and processes as the project develops.

What are the budget ranges for animation?
There is no set budget for any particular content type at this stage. We are unlikely to be able to afford high cost.

What kind of budgets will there be for games and interactives?
There is no set per project budget at this stage, however it is unlikely that we will be able to support high budget initiatives, as we want to achieve a broad range of content outcomes and our finances are limited!

Where is the Quality Control - in games for example?
The site will soon have a Project Director. Working with the project's producer, they will be closely involved with delivery and acceptance of funded projects. 

Rights and IP

Who owns the IP?
As always, the producer owns IP in projects proposed by them.

Does any content funded for children have to be on this platform now?
The target audience for this platform is 5-9 year olds. We will prioritise projects that can feature on this platform in original or repurposed form.

We expect any NZ On Air-funded content to be provided free online to the NZ public for at least a year, whether on an exclusive or nonexclusive basis. For the children's site, this should be longer. We may negotiate depending on the needs of other investors and genuine potential sales opportunities that the producer can outline.

Exceptions will likely only be made for projects like broadcast children’s drama; namely for content with a shelf life, where other sales are anticipated, and other investors are involved. Producers should put a proposal to us.

What if my content is intended for another platform?
Unless NZ On Air is a minority investor we will expect such content to be made available to the platform in original or repurposed form within a month of first release. On a nonexclusive basis is fine. Producers should discuss this in their application.

What are the mandatory rights required for this content distribution on this platform?
We are asking for a minimum one-year non-exclusive right to distribute the content on this platform. This requirement may be extended beyond one-year depending on levels of investment from NZOA. We are still in the process of defining when that one-year window starts in terms of projects that have TV and online outcomes. Each project will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis if there are wider global distribution opportunities for content.

Will you require exclusivity of content to the platform?
The rights will be different for each project that is creating content for the platform. Exclusivity is unlikely to be a requirement, although there may be conversations around windowing for higher budget productions.

How do we handle music licensing and rights - is this any different to television?
Music licensing should be approached in the same way as you do for television. Make sure you secure online rights for at least NZ for as long as possible. 

Contracting

How will the contracting for funded projects work?
NZ On Air will contract for content for the children’s site on our standard terms and conditions.

When funding is over $200,000 it is an equity investment. This means that we are entitled to a share of any income in accordance with our standard recoupment policy.

There are also NZOA accreditation requirements.

A standard funding agreement is used: guidelines here for new sector-wide draft agreement now available for feedback. See producer resources on the NZ On Air website for guidance.

Technical

Will the content on the platform be geo-blocked?
Most likely yes as this feature is usually required due to rights issues. There is likely to be the option to enable and disable it for select pieces of content but we are still working on this and recommend producers having conversations about it with us on a case-by-case basis.

Will the platform include username and password for kids?
This is one of the questions we are still working through. It’s likely to include some form of login, however the first bit of research we’re undertaking will look to explore the extent to which login is a barrier for parents and children, when it is most appropriate to prompt for a login, how much information do they want / need etc.

What game engines are supported on the platform?
Rather than considering the game engine, instead the output of the game engine should be in HTML5 suitable for embedding in a webpage, with optional links to Apple and Google Play AppStore hosted apps for better native app performance if that will lead to a better experience (maybe even with prompts or redirects if you detect the viewer's device is a smartphone or tablet).

The embedded object size and an optional fullscreen mode are also considerations. Specifications regarding this will be available once we have clearer steer on the UI of the site and apps. Interactive content should be able to run without the need for any browser plugins.

What is the role of mobile and post-mobile?
We’re open to innovative proposals in this post-mobile space (AR / VR / MR). We are particularly interested in Augmented Reality projects. We are unlikely to fund VR projects at this stage.

Does video need to be in HD?
Ideally but not necessarily.

The nuts and bolts of it all

Explain what you mean by ‘safety issues online’
All content on this platform will be curated, safe content. We will develop guidelines for linking out to external sites or apps.

It is crucial that the safety of the child is at the forefront of the site. Parents in particular need to be assured that their child will not be exposed to inappropriate content on the site. There are various aspects to this, for example if there’s an auto-play feature, we need to ensure that it only auto-plays safe, curated content.

How will TVNZ make revenue from the site?
The site will be ad-free. NZ On Air is funding its creation and will fund content for the site. TVNZ is providing business and support services as well as international acquisitions. This is not about making money. This is about a public media online home for local children’s content and securing our cultural future.

What about kids who don’t have access to online?
Free to air television is still a core part of the NZ On Air funding outcomes. Broadcast is absolutely still a platform option.

How will you develop and market the new kids brand? How much budget is there for this? What examples will you follow?
The TVNZ Marketing team will be behind the campaign to promote the site, and there is budget allocated within the funding and within TVNZ for that. More details around this will be worked out closer to the time and we will no doubt be calling on everyone who’s making content for the site to feed into that planning and discussion process.
Marketing for the site will not rest solely with TVNZ and the team will welcome ideas and support from content creators to promote and publicise their content.

Where does the ownership of the platform/s lie?
NZ On Air chose to collaborate with TVNZ after issuing an open request for proposals. TVNZ has been contracted to build, launch, and manage the platform as part of an ongoing agreement.

Will there be captioning for content?
We’re still working this out. We would love this to be the case.

Is the platform going to take over from TV for children? Will broadcast TV for kids die?
We expect broadcast television to continue to have a role in children’s programming. The platform will run alongside broadcast, providing content opportunities for new online contexts.

How will this platform integrate with broadcast?
In part as the ondemand platform for children’s programming. It is our expectation that any local content for this target audience that airs on broadcast TV will be available through this platform online for at least 12 months. However there will also be video content that is unique to the platform.

When will you have a name?
We’re working on it!

Inspiration

Will the research be available to producers?
Yes, here is the research carried out by Colmar Brunton in December 2016. And Children's Media Use research from  NZ On Air in 2015.

What are the project’s aspiration websites or brands?
We will add to this list as we go, but below are some of the international examples we have been exploring to glean inspiration and ideas on platform, design and content creation.

Branding / Design / Platform
PBS Kids
CBeebies 
ABC ME
Musical.ly
Launch of Live.ly
Lego reinventing itself
BBC Global Experience Language
BBC - How to design for children

Content (of the mobile, YouTube, musical.ly variety)
Thomas Sanders Vines
Musical.ly Tutorial from Baby Ariel
Zach King YouTube channel
Good Mythical Morning

Games / Interactive Storytelling
Interland
Netflix introduces interactive TV
Netflix show - Ask the Storybots
The Doctor Who Bot

Local
Jiwi's Machines
12 Huia Birds
Curious Critters Club - Discovery AR
Little Legends
Nia's Extra Ordinary Life


Workshop Presentations

The presenters from the Children's Producer workshop on July 3rd have kindly agreed to share their presentations. 


Sponsorship and 3rd Party Funding

Principles for sponsorship and third party funding for the children's platform

Child centred: The platform will champion the right of children to be creators and citizens, not consumers, as further set out in the Charter of Principles for the platform.

Advertising free: The platform will be advertising-free. Appropriate sponsorship of content or services on the platform may be considered.

Primary Principles: Any sponsor message, product or service:

  1. May be an element of a positive social marketing campaign or activity (eg related to environment, health, well-being, culture, play)
  2. Will have exposure mainly through an ‘in association’-style acknowledgement, age-appropriate prize packages, as part of a credit sequence, or similar
  3. May attach to a specific platform service or block of content (eg providing captions for hearing-impaired)
  4. Will conform to generally accepted social responsibility norms
  5. Will not exhort children or their parents to buy a commercial product or service

Because the platform will be advertising free, the Advertising Standards Authority Code for Advertising to Children will not apply. However, content creators should be aware of these useful principles with respect to any sponsored elements of the content:

Principle 1 – Advertisements should be prepared with and observe a high standard of social responsibility.
Principle 2 – Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive children, abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge or without reason play on fear.

Approval of sponsored elements: Third-party contributions will be specifically approved by the project governance team (Melissa Clark-Reynolds, Jane Wrightson of NZ On Air, Cate Slater of TVNZ) to ensure the site has a high standard of social responsibility and adheres to the Primary Principles.

Content Co-Investment

General NZOA policy

NZOA’s goal for its children’s content investments is:
We will help grow great New Zealanders by providing enriching local content for children that encourages imagination and curiosity

NZOA’s goal for its general content investments is for co-investment from the commissioning platform, along with other appropriate co-funding sources. This offsets the cost to the taxpayer.

Co-investment in content funded by NZOA may take one or more of the following forms:

  • Cash and/or “in kind” contribution to the production budget from the commissioning platform
  • Cash and/or “in kind” contribution to the production budget from a third party in exchange for usage rights for the content
  • Cash and/or “in kind” contribution to the production budget from a third party in exchange for appropriate promotional benefits

Where a third party contribution is for promotional benefits, applications for funding must clearly state how the promotional benefits will be delivered in light of the sponsorship principles.