A major player in animation, Xilam is an integrated studio that creates, produces and distributes original programmes in almost 200 countries for both children and adult audiences. Despite the pandemic, the company never stopped working, and today it is involved in a huge number of projects. Safaa Benazzouz, Deputy EVP of Distribution at Xilam Animation, explained how the needs of customers have been changing in recent years, defined the company's strategy, and detailed what project it is currently working on.
● What changes do you see in the needs of customers after so much time without presence in the markets?
“I think people are very happy to get together again. You see a lot of motivation in the meetings. Acquisition needs are clear, and customers know very well what they want. They look for strong ideas and, above all, content with positive values. Everything that has to do with educational content is also highly sought after, as is everything related to the environment. At the same time, comedy is always the most demanded content, although there is also now a trend towards the production of animation for adults.”
● How was the company's strategy changing during the different stages of the pandemic?
“In 2020, there were very urgent requests for content and renewals. Since we have many shows without dialogue, we were able to bring an interesting offer for buyers. It also happened that some countries had a better situation with Covid than others, and that not all were at the same level, mainly from an economic perspective, which is something that was reflected in business. You always have to adapt to what is happening with the global situation.”
● How did you see the situation particularly in Latin America?
“In Latin America, the strategy is always to localize the product. In times when business is more difficult, we try to put content on AVOD platforms, like Tubi or Pluto TV, for example. That is part of our strategy in the region, and we have had a very good income that way. In some cases, content that was never broadcast on television ends up finding an audience on those platforms.”
● Do the needs of linear and non-linear change much?
“In the case of AVOD platforms, we seek to carry short programs without dialogue. On the other hand, on television we usually point to programs with dialogue, more oriented to the preschool segment. In SVOD, all programs have possibilities. Each platform has different needs. We see that in AVOD we can choose the show we want to put on and in which way, while in SVOD it is the buyer who chooses each show. It is a very dedicated type of approach, because what we do is almost a programming job.”
● What projects are you currently working on?
"This year we launched 'Buddybot', a comedy for children aged 6 to 10, which we are going to produce for the French public channel France Télévisions. It is the story of a friendship between a normal 12-year-old girl and a small robot that comes from the future, from a time when the consequences of climate change are important. The two heroes are going to act to save the planet and teach habits of daily life that seek to solve this problem. The show does not aim to instruct but to approach the subject in a rather comical way.”
By Diego Alfagemez