Netflix’s Melissa Cobb
By Mansha Daswani
Kids’ and family content has become an increasingly important pillar for Netflix in its quest to maintain its position as the largest SVOD platform in the world. Melissa Cobb, VP of original animation, recently sat down for an in-depth conversation with TV Kids Weekly to discuss her remit, upcoming projects and the potential to bring local stories with global resonance to young ones across the globe.
TV KIDS: At an event in Mexico earlier this year, Guillermo del Toro talked about the “creator-friendly” environment he’s found at Netflix. How have you fostered that?
COBB: I’ve been at Netflix for about a year and a half. When I got here, there wasn’t [an animation studio] yet. I had to think a lot about what we could create that would be different. What is the experience that can be different? One of the things I realized was that so many creators in the kids’ and family space are working in environments where there is a very clear brand profile to work under, and often one arbiter of that taste profile. I don’t know if there had been a studio yet that was truly creator-driven, with very different styles and tastes based on the creators working there. That seemed like an intriguing idea. So that was what we set out to do. It’s about bringing in the right creators. You need creators who have a strong enough vision that they can take it all the way to the finish line. We’re there to help provide them with support and guardrails and someone to bounce ideas off of. It’s not necessarily the level of experience—we have first-time creators as well as experienced creators. But it’s a level of vision and confidence to be able to run their own show. It starts with picking the right people. There are people for whom that’s not a comfortable thing, and they are probably not the right people to work for us. People like Guillermo are super clear in their vision! People like that work really well in that environment. And then they are fearless about sharing what they know with the other creators. It becomes an interesting environment where people aren’t afraid to say, Can you take a look at this? I’m having some trouble, do you have any suggestions about this character design? They all want their work to be great for themselves.
TV KIDS: The programmers at kids’ channels often talk about finding content that fits their particular brand values. What’s your approach to finding shows that will work on Netflix?
COBB: Again, it’s about who you bring in and what the projects are. And then we’re trying to look across all the projects and we have to make sure there is a real variety—more comedic things and more actiony things and things that appeal to the whole family and things that appeal to different age groups within the family. We look at our slate holistically to make sure we have a broad offering, with different tastes and kinds of creators too.
This interview continues here.
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Analysis: Dealing with OTTs: Perspectives on working with nonlinear platforms and their evolving business models.
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