How to pitch to broadcasters


MIPCOM Junior kicked off on Saturday with a roundtable workshop whereby delegates had an opportunity to interact with six leading executives on their views about the perfect pitch.

Here we run, in point form, some of the useful pitching techniques and advice related to children’s (teenagers are included in this category) programming that emerged from the tables headed by Denis Alme De Visscher, Acquisition Executive, NKR, Norway; Justine Bannister, Head of International Distribution & Acquisitions, TV Loonland AG, Germany; Sam Ewing, Consultant Cartoon Consultants Group USA; Joan Lambur, President, Lambur & Associates Inc, Canada; Dominic Gardiner, Director of Programming UK, Jetix Erope Ltd, UK; and Lisbeth Mathiesen, Manager, Jolly Good Company, Denmark.

Broadcaster nowadays ask for scripts and even one completed episode. Remember they plan well ahead and right now will be looking for programming for 2008. They take a long time to decide on a programme (up to a year) but if there is competition from other broadcasters then decision making is quicker.

If you are trying to sell a programme based on a book, broadcasters look for exclusivity and feel safe with big brand publishers.

Religious programming is difficult eg the Middle East will definitely not consider anything with a pig in it.

Read the trade magazines like Kidscreen, to find out what broadcasters are looking for. Study the time slots so you can suggest to a broadcaster where your programme would fit in.

Don’t ever “doorstep” a broadcaster, that is, don’t try to pitch them in the toilet, in the passage, etc.

A PBS (public service broadcaster) can be tough to sell to as they usually have a pack of forms you need to fill in.

Be aware of what’s currently acceptable. You can’t have a character obsessed with eating pizzas a€” it’s just not healthy afterall.

A lot of broadcasters may not be proficient in English so use simple words in your pitch. Think of it as selling a pair of socks a€” you need to describe the texture, the colour and even smell if necessary.

A universally well known voice for a character is a great selling point.

You have to be flexible and if a broadcaster offers comments, go back and make the changes if needs be. But don’t be a doormat as broadcasters will not respect you for this.

There are some things which will always be part of children’s stories, like fairies, witches and even dinosaurs. But keep in touch with new trends.

Don’t use pitching leaflets that are too disposable. Programme buyers are often drawn to booklets, preferably one booklet per programme. Attach a DVD with clips if possible.

Another programme buyer said he did not want a detailed proposal but preferred a single A4 card. Follow up the meeting with an short email to find out if more information was required.

When they say they like it, stop pushing the show. You need to zip up your briefcase, say you’ll send over a script, and leave.


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