CBC goes searching for fun

The broadcaster's new kids show Cross Country Fun Hunt is being created on the road with the host documenting communities and uploading segments online.
CBC cross country fun hunt image

The CBC, along with singer and actor Jordan Francis from Camp Rock 2, has been touring the country and compiling video footage of youth in various Canadian communities.

It’s all for the broadcaster’s new 12-episode fall show Cross Country Fun Hunt produced by Montreal-based Apartment 11 and set to air on Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m. The hunt for places that kids (aged 8 to 14) deem to be the most fun in the country began last month after 118 videos were uploaded to the dedicated site by youth talking about what makes their town a fun place to live. During the first month, the CBC saw over 6,000 unique visitors, Kim Wilson, creative head of children’s programming, CBC, tells MiC.

Visitors to the site were invited to vote for their favourite kid-made video. Now the host, Francis, is travelling on the road with a film crew documenting each town as well as visits with those whose videos received the most votes on the site. The video clips of Francis’ travels are then uploaded, and at the end of the month will be put together to create the TV show.

“There’s so much focus on animation these days, because it’s easier to sell internationally,” notes Wilson of the live-action show that follows the popular youth star’s near-real-time journey. She adds that the show is effective in getting both parents and youth involved by creating an inter-generational execution that is “so pro-Canada and a perfect fit for CBC.”

“When we go to these towns, it’s nutty [because] parents book the day off to be there. And so it becomes a real family event,” she adds. “When you’re a public broadcaster, accessibility is such a critical part of what we do. So we try to get to every province and territory every year in some capacity.”

Since Francis is active on Facebook and Twitter, and has a following of over 110,000 on the latter social networking site, Wilson says that she felt there would be some take from his influence and outreach. But the CBC wanted to pillow his social efforts with the Cross Country Fun Hunt website because some parents don’t allow their kids to use Twitter or Facebook, she says.

“For us, another critical part of this is safety in terms of kids and social media,” notes Wilson. “Jordan, for that age demo, is a well-known guy. He has a huge Twitter following already. But we added a couple things that we thought were great, like a soap box on the website so kids can shout out directly to him. So it’s very intimate but while still being in a relatively safe environment.”

Cross Country Fun Hunt launches on Sept. 15 with the show highlighting the top ten “funnest” communities as voted by Canadian youth. Following the airing of all 12 episodes, kids will vote for the number one destination which will then play host to a grand finale concert.

The show is being promoted with ads on both the CBC’s online and on-air properties, adds Wilson.