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Consolidation What Kids Want Boys’ Action Shows DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg Nickelodeon’s Cyma Zarghami Gumball’s Ben Bocquelet Degrassi’s Stephen Stohn Lagardère’s Caroline Cochaux 9 Story’s Vince Commisso www.tvkids.ws

MIP JUNIOR & MIPCOM EDITION

THE MAGAZINE OF CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING

OCTOBER 2013


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18 TV KIDS

CONTENTS FEATURES

Generational Shift Every generation is defined by certain characteristics. Granted, many may be generalizations, but we have come to accept them.

Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Anna Carugati Editor Mansha Daswani Executive Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Managing Editor Joanna Padovano Associate Editor Simon Weaver Online Director Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Cesar Suero Sales & Marketing Director Vanessa Brand Sales & Marketing Manager Terry Acunzo Business Affairs Manager

Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Kids © 2013 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tvkids.ws

The Greatest Generation is the one that sacrificed, fought and gave their lives in World War II; the Baby Boomers, the children born between 1946 and 1964, questioned conventions, defied authority and were the first generation to grow up with TV. Then came Generation X, born between the early ’60s and the early ’80s. This group was more heterogeneous and had a higher level of education than any previous one. It is often called the MTV Generation because it came of age with music videos and the nascent cable TV industry. Generation Y, or the Millennials, followed, born between the early ’80s and early 2000s. Most grew up with computers and multichannel television in their homes.The Millennials are often seen as entitled, perhaps because they were given too many gold stars and medals just for participating in events, rather than for actually placing first, second or third. And now the post-Millennials are emerging, roughly defined as children born after 2005.This is the fully connected generation, born into a world where tablets and smartphones are as common as refrigerators and stoves. Research shows that these children are very tied to their families and are less cynical than their predecessors. Will the same type of humor and TV shows that worked for earlier generations appeal to these children? This is a question that Cyma Zarghami, the president of the Nickelodeon Group, poses in this issue.These post-Millennials, and others, are getting more and more used to watching programs on demand, as Jeffrey Katzenberg notes in his interview. Katzenberg is now shifting DreamWorks Animation from a studio that releases a few feature films a year to a company that produces content for multiple platforms.We also hear from Ben Bocquelet, the creator of The Amazing World of Gumball; Stephen Stohn, part of the team behind the hit teen franchise Degrassi; Caroline Cochaux, the head of programming for Lagardère Active’s youth and family channels; and 9 Story’s Vince Commisso.All are grappling with the same question—how to serve and entertain today’s extremely media-savvy children. Are they that much different from previous generations? Well, boys continue to be boys, as we see in our feature about shows targeted to the specific needs of this group. And beyond changes in this new generation of children, the entire kids’ television business has undergone significant disruption, as we examine in our main feature. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they change. —Anna Carugati

76 Growth Spurt How important is scale in the kids’ business today?

84 Quest for the Best Distributors discuss key trends in the market.

109 Oh Boy! A look at boys’ action shows.

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INTERVIEWS 116 DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg

122 Nickelodeon’s Cyma Zarghami

126 Gumball ’s Ben Bocquelet

130 Degrassi ’s Stephen Stohn

132 Lagardère Active’s Caroline Cochaux

136 9 Story’s Vince Commisso

SPECIAL REPORTS m4e Turns 10 & Telescreen at 30

21

A special report on the brand-management firm and its distribution and production arm.

PGS Celebrates its 5th Birthday

53

The Paris- and Hong Kong-based distributor marks its fifth anniversary.

Brand Licensing Europe Key trends in the L&M business, plus an interview with 41 Entertainment’s Allen Bohbot.

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20 TV KIDS

4K Media • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL At this year’s MIP Junior and MIPCOM, 4K Media is concentrating on showcasing the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, part of the long-running Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. “Many international broadcasters have signed on to air Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL and we are excited to continue to grow the series internationally to follow the success we have had with the other Yu-Gi-Oh! series,” says Brian Lacey, 4K Media’s international broadcast distribution consultant. “With 12 years of brand awareness, a loyal fanbase across the four series and a long history of ratings success, it is a proven commodity. It gives broadcasters a powerful asset in building their program schedules and kid viewership.” The show has been expanding its presence in Europe, where it has now secured slots on Cartoon Network in the U.K. and YEP! in Germany.

“During MIPCOM we will continue to focus on season two of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.” —Brian Lacey Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL

41 Entertainment • PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures

The main goal for 41 Entertainment this MIPCOM is to promote PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures. “The world has changed and it is no longer about multiple properties but rather one single major property per year that can truly succeed both in the ratings for the broadcasters and in merchandise sales for retailers,” says Allen Bohbot, the company’s chairman and CEO. “So many of our competitors that have struggled in the past few years have been slow to adapt and still think it is about multiple property launches at MIPCOM, when, in fact, it is about focus and target.” The animated series has been earning high ratings on Disney XD in the U.S. and was commissioned for a second season. It is slated to launch around the globe in February 2014.

“For us, this year is about PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures.” —Allen Bohbot PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures

American Greetings Properties • Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures • Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot Currently broadcasting on Hub Network in the U.S., Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures follows the iconic character and her friends.Also airing on Hub Network is Care Bears:Welcome to Care-a-Lot, which has been sold to broadcasters all around the world. “Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears have been around for over 30 years,” says Gia DeLaney, the VP of program sales for American Greetings Properties. “They are trusted brands that moms enjoyed when they were kids themselves. If they have a choice between an unknown series and our properties, they tend to go with Strawberry Shortcake or Care Bears because of the positive messages contained in the episodes.” DeLaney adds that the company is also looking to secure sales for classic Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears content.

“We have pay-TV deals in place but we would love to find a free-TV partner for our series.” —Gia DeLaney Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures 264 World Screen 10/13


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m4e Turns 10 Hans Ulrich Stoef

In 2003, Hans Ulrich Stoef teamed with Michael Büttner to launch m4e. With its motto, “Made for Entertainment,” the company has become a full-service brand-management firm in the kids’ and family arena. As m4e marks its tenth anniversary, Stoef elaborates on the company’s successful model.

TV KIDS: How did you want to position m4e? STOEF: It was our goal to start a brand-management

company which would be involved in all aspects of the business and to become one of the key players for kids’ and family entertainment. At that time we were more of a licensing company with some experience in the world of television production and distribution.We didn’t own any IP ourselves.We distributed some television shows but we didn’t own any. Today, ten years later, it’s a completely different story. Being a brand-management company, we do everything, from development to scripting, producing, distributing and licensing and merchandising, and we even have our own television platform called YEP! We have a clear vision and over the course of time we had the chance to add one business field after the other.

FIFA World Cup was in Germany in 2006. That helped us to generate cash flow. At the same time we had a bit of luck by starting a celebrity marketing side of the business and we were marketing [the German singer, actress and TV personality] Yvonne Catterfeld, who was a very famous star at the time. We did a fantastic deal with the retail chain Pimkie, which sold over 2.5 million units of branded apparel from Yvonne Catterfeld. That brought money to the company and we were able to push it to a level where we decided to do an IPO in order to have more capital for investment into content and TV production and distribution. Those were important steps for the future. Then on the television side, in 2003-2004 we started our first co-production with Rainbow in Italy, for Monster Allergy. We sold it to ZDF and that gave us some significance in the market in Germany. Finally we were able to go public with the company in 2007 on a newly developed segment in Germany, called Entry Standard, on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

TV KIDS: How important was the acquisition of Telescreen to your expansion strategy? STOEF: Very important.We didn’t really have a catalogue. We thought we’d need some experienced people in the international-distribution business and a small catalogue of quality programming to build relationships with all the broadcasters around the world on a regular basis. We discovered that Telescreen was the best option for us. TV KIDS: You also acquired the TV-Loonland library. STOEF: One of the most important steps for us was to

acquire the old TV-Loonland back catalogue, with approximately 1,600 episodes of programming. The majority of it we own 100 percent. Even if it’s not A-plus content, it gave us more product to distribute while it brought more cash flow to the company. That was very significant in order to reach the next level in our strategy.

TV KIDS: What were some of the early moves you

made that paved the way for the company’s expansion? STOEF: At the beginning we had to generate some cash

flow because we had some expensive ideas! [Laughs] We represented the German Football Federation and the national team, starting in 2004—two years before the

TV KIDS: What led to the launch of YEP!, your new TV channel? STOEF: About two years ago I developed a concept to start our own free-to-air, advertising-driven television platform in Germany for boys’ action-adventure and fan-

By Mansha Daswani


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TV KIDS

One-stop shop: m4e AG owns 100 percent of Telescreen and the consumerproducts company Tex-ass; and 50 percent of Lucky Punch, a development and production company, and YEP!, a kids’ TV channel.

tasy [content]. Germany, compared to other European markets, is underdeveloped in terms of boys’ action programming. When RTL II stepped out of that field there was a gap in the market and for us that opportunity was worthwhile to pursue. I brought in a company called Mainstream Media AG, which is a successful independent operator for pay-TV channels in Germany. I introduced the idea. What was needed was a partner who had the know-how to operate a TV channel, be an independent and be able to do the administration. We will take care about the concept, the marketing, the distribution. With Mainstream Media we found the best possible partner and together we started a company called YEP!, which m4e owns 50 percent of, Gottfried Zmeck’s Mainstream Media owns 46 percent, and Tim Werner [Mainstream’s COO] owns 4 percent.We’ve announced a major deal to partner with ProSiebenSat.1 Group to deliver between eight and nine hours of programming every day to their new freeto-air channel ProSieben MAXX and have brought very experienced management with Karola Bayr (formerly of Viacom and the Disney Channel) as CEO of YEP! and others to the company. The next step will be to start the YEP! advertising sales team and we are happy to say that we have found in Andreas Schöpf (ex-Viacom),VP of ad sales at YEP!, an experienced sales professional.

way through—and without the partners, or without our team, including Sjoerd Raemakers at Telescreen and all my colleagues here, it would not have been possible. TV KIDS: What are your goals for m4e? STOEF: We are still very dependent on the TV channels,

but with more and more digitization, content owners can make contact directly with the consumer for a reasonable amount of money. We don’t have to spend millions anymore to launch new content. Via the Internet, IPTV, video on demand we will find our demographic more easily in order to start our properties. In the short term, the ultimate goal is to continue to build our library with relevant and creative IP in a very strong way with new productions and if necessary to add third-party titles.We will have to find a good balance between library content and merchandisable properties in order to have a good mix and feed our licensing division with new properties where we can increase revenues and cash flow. Midterm we also want to extend our reach with YEP! into the pay-TV market and outside of Germany. Long term, we want to become one of the leading players worldwide in the area of kids’ and family entertainment with direct presence in the key markets.

TV KIDS: What have been m4e’s strategies for thriv-

TV KIDS: What are some of the highlights on your slate? STOEF: Our crown jewel is Mia and me. We are in a

ing in this challenging landscape? STOEF: I guess we prepared at an early stage. The old model was, you produce animation and about 95 percent of the financing will come from television and home video and the rest might come from licensing.A long time ago it was obvious to us that this would change. As a result we prepared m4e for the challenging future in order to give us an advantaged position over our competition. We noticed that in the worst case in the future, up to 80 percent of financing will have to come from licensing and 20 percent from television. Today it’s maybe 50-50. Therefore we needed to build a strong licensing business first before we go into television. We would not have been able to achieve all of that without the German broadcasters. ZDF especially supported us and our creative productions and ideas all the

second season now and we will most probably come up with a feature film and a third season. Our partner Gerd Hahn is already working on it and I am looking forward to many more productions with him and his team. We extended our partnership with our good friends from Rainbow on that property. We have high hopes for this brand for the coming years. We are also producing together with Studio Bozzetto, Studio Campedelli, Giunti and RAI and in association with SUPER RTL a new preschool show called Tip the Mouse. We are in development on a new show called Atchoo! with Cartobelano and Studio Campedelli and we are developing a feature film for our IP of Pinkeltje together with our partners from blue eyes Fiction. We want to stay focused and believe we will be able to produce about two shows a year, but not more.


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Telescreen at 30 Sjoerd Raemakers Telescreen is celebrating its 30th birthday. The company, which was acquired by m4e in 2008, was one of the pioneers of animated co-productions within Europe and with broadcasters in Japan. It has built up a library that includes Alfred J. Kwak, Miffy and Moomin, as well as new concepts like the m4e co-production Mia and me. General manager Sjoerd Raemakers, who has been with Telescreen since its inception, discusses the company’s history and its view of the business today.

TV KIDS: What advantages does Telescreen have being part of m4e? RAEMAKERS: We can make our own decisions. There’s not a lot of red tape. Both m4e and Telescreen are flat organizations. If there’s a good idea we can look at each other and say, Do we go for this? We don’t need a lot of meetings.We all have the same vision. Of course m4e has a more commercial view, from the licensing business. We at Telescreen look more from the traditional television and home-entertainment side, and now of course VOD.

TV KIDS: What can buyers expect from m4e and

business?

Telescreen content? RAEMAKERS: It’s always child friendly. There’s no aggressiveness.We don’t produce things that are hot for two or three years but rather programs that stay in the catalogue and will have value, like Alfred J. Kwak, which was produced in ’89. It is safe [content], and good quality, because we spend a lot of money on the visuals. We like to do things that are a little bit different, like Mia and me, which m4e produced with Rainbow and March Entertainment. [The combination of] live action and animation made it more expensive but we were the first ones to do a hybrid program [in quite some time]. Now we’re in a second season. People recognize that as a special production from a quality point of view.

RAEMAKERS: The buyers have become very picky.There

TV KIDS: What have been the major shifts in the kids’

are a lot of channels and outlets available. In certain markets, no real license fees are being paid because [broadcasters see some shows as] advertising for [consumer products]. Online andVOD is growing very fast.That is an additional market but it’s not replacing the home-entertainment [revenues]. It’s difficult times, but things are evolving. TV KIDS: What are your growth opportunities? RAEMAKERS: The online business. Certain markets have

not developed it yet or have just started.There are different rules. Some of it is straight buys. Some of it is royalty share. Some is a combination. Some is ad-supported. There is a need for individual viewing, as I call it, watching at the time you want. [In this environment] you need to stand out.


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What’s Being Said About m4e

TV KIDS

“For more than ten years now, the happy, suntanned and slightly exhausted face of Ulli Stoef has accompanied me on my trip home from Cannes to Munich. An extraordinary professional who perfectly lives up to the motto, Work hard and play hard!”

Dr. Herbert Kloiber, Tele München Gruppe “Ulli Stoef and his company have an impressive track record in the area of children’s programming. Congratulations! This is why we are proud of the partnership with m4e AG in our YEP! TV joint venture to which Ulli, with his restless competence, makes a great contribution.”

Gottfried Zmeck, CEO, Mainstream Media “Ulli is amazing. He texts you a solution to your problem while you are still trying to explain it to him by phone.”

Gerhard Hahn, Creator of Mia and me; CEO, Hahn Film; & Managing Director, Lucky Punch “Ulli has always been an impressive entrepreneur, from the first days during our TMG days when he built CTM, to the present days of running m4e. Congratulations on this outstanding performance!”

Bernd Schlötterer, CEO, Palatin Media “Congratulations on 10 years m4e AG. Since the very beginning [you have been] a reliable, creative partner for ZDF. m4e knows how to produce great shows that kids appreciate.”

Nicole Keeb, Head of International Co-productions & Acquisitions, ZDF

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10

Years of m4e

30

Years of Telescreen

2003

The company is founded as m4e GmbH & Co. KG in November.

1983

2004

m4e signs a long-term exclusive licensing and merchandising cooperation with the German Football Association (DFB).

1984-89 Productions include The Dummies, Ox Tales,

2006

2007

2008

m4e premieres the official DFB mascot Paule; launches a new celebrity marketing division, Faces & Names; and takes on the merchandising for Spider-Man 3. m4e goes public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Later, m4e enters into a joint venture with Gerhard Hahn, called Lucky Punch, and takes over Tex-ass Textilvertriebs GmbH, a leading manufacturer of licensed textiles and accessories. Rainbow and m4e begin working together, including on the German release of the Winx Club feature film. m4e buys Telescreen and builds a library of more than 600 episodes of kids’ and family entertainment.

2009

Pinkeltje worldwide rights acquired; Mia and me production begins.

2010

m4e is tapped to handle licensing for KiKA’s KiKANiNCHEN brand. Mia and me notches up its first sale and is named most-viewed program at MIP Junior.

2011

m4e acquires the TV-Loonland catalogue, expanding its library to more than 2,200 episodes of kids’ and family entertainment. Mia and me wins the MIP Junior Licensing Challenge.

2012

Mia and me wins the Tricksfor-Kids Award at the ITFS. Mia and me premieres in Germany and production begins on season two. m4e and Mainstream Media announce plans for a TV channel called YEP!

2013

YEP! goes on the air. Turning 10, m4e stands as an international brand-management and media company with expertise in creation, production, distribution and marketing of family content.

Telescreen is founded as one of the first dedicated kids’ animation companies. Cubitus, Star Street and Alfred J. Kwak.

1990

The first season of Moomin is produced.

1992

Based on characters created by Dick Bruna, Telescreen produces the first season of Miffy.

1995

The premiere of Bamboo Bears.

2001

Production begins on Anton, created by Danish Academy Award-winning animator Børge Ring.

2004

Telescreen acquires various titles from Egmont Imagination, including Lizzie McGuire and Hans Christian Andersen: The Fairytaler.

2005-06 Telescreen co-produces further episodes of Paz, with Discovery Kids and King Rollo Films.

2007

Production commences on Frog & Friends, based on the books by Max Velthuijs.

2008

Frog & Friends is launched at the closing party for MIP Junior 2008 as Telescreen marks its 25th anniversary. Telescreen becomes part of m4e.

2009

The company takes on the series Rudolf and Conni.

2010

Telescreen begins distributing Ask Lara, a production of Tomavistas from Spain, in co-production with TV3 de Catalunya, Red Kite from the U.K. and Submarine from the Netherlands.

2011

Telescreen acquires the international sales rights to Pixi and the Magic Wall.

2012

Telescreen produces the theatrical animated feature Miffy the Movie.

2013

Telescreen turns 30.


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NEW SHOWS

This live-action and CGI animated hybrid consists of 26 half-hour full HD episodes, with a second season of 26 episodes in production. Targeted to kids 6 to 12, particularly girls, the show revolves around elves and unicorns and features elements of fantasy, adventure and comedy. Created by Gerhard Hahn, it is produced by Lucky Punch (m4e’s joint venture with Hahn), Rainbow S.r.l. and March Entertainment, with ZDF Enterprises and Rai Fiction. m4e/Telescreen and Rainbow have sold season one to 70-plus markets, including KiKA, Rai, Nickelodeon, Televisa and Clan TV, among others. A feature film is in development for 2015. The licensing and merchandising program includes more than 90 partners worldwide. Season two is now in production, and season three is already in development.

The new preschool series will be ready for delivery in 2014. It is based on a character made famous in a series of books by Italian artist Andrea Dami, published by Giunti Editore, which have sold 7.8 million copies worldwide. The comedy is being produced in CGI animation. Rai in Italy and SUPER RTL in Germany are on board for the 52x7-minute series, which is a co-production of Studio Bozzetto, Giunti Editore, Studio Campedelli and Rai Fiction in association with m4e.

This series for kids aged 6 to 10 is in development for a planned 2015 delivery. The 52x11-minute comedy features great characters and cool graphics, delivering the message that diversity is a great treasure and each person is extraordinary just because of who they are. It is being produced by Cartobaleno, Studio Campedelli and m4e.

A TV series and feature film are being developed for this property, based on the original books by Dutch author Dick Laan, which have sold more than 4 million units worldwide. The new 52x11minute series is co-produced by m4e, Telescreen, Déjà Vu Entertainment and blue eyes Fiction. The adventure show is targeted to the whole family.


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All About The media company YEP! is a joint venture between m4e AG (50 percent) and Mainstream Media (50 percent, of which 4 percent is held by Tim Werner). It was founded by m4e CEO Hans Ulrich Stoef and Mainstream Media CEO Gottfried Zmeck. The core business of Mainstream Media is broadcasting, with the channel operating the subscription channels GoldStar TV, Heimatkanal and Romance TV. MANAGEMENT

Karola Bayr, CEO of YEP!, has run the operation since October 2012. Before, she was a member of the senior management at Viacom International Media Networks in Europe, responsible for the brand and channel management of Comedy Central and MTV. As general manager, she led the re-positioning of VIVA. Previously, she was program director at Jetix. Her career also includes time at EM.TV & Merchandising and ProSieben. Andreas Schöpf,VP of sales at YEP!, is responsible for the marketing of all advertising slots and space. Back in 2002, Schöpf helped build up the Fox Kids brand in Europe. For the launch of Nickelodeon, MTV Networks made him head of sales and in 2009 he became responsible for the sales of Nickelodeon brands and platforms in Germany. In 2011 he became

Leading YEP!: m4e’s Hans Ulrich Stoef, YEP!’s Karola Bayr and Mainstream Media’s Gottfried Zmeck and Tim Werner.

managing director of the PR and communications agency “Redaktion und Alltag.” Along with classic advertising connected to kids’ programming, he can offer YEP! clients special advertising formats and integrated cross-media formats. FREE TV REACH

YEP! entered into a long-term, strategic cooperation agreement for a branded block on ProSieben MAXX, allowing the ProSiebenSat.1 group to extend its portfolio into the kids’ and youth environment. ProSieben MAXX is the new free-TV channel that launched on September 3, 2013, at 8:12 p.m. with the free-TV premiere of Captain America: The First Avenger. ProSieben MAXX broadcasts, among others, exclusive free-TV English-language TV series, in their original format with subtitles. The channel stands for high-quality television


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for a male target group of 30 to 59 years of age, with drama series from the U.S., international documentaries and factual-entertainment formats as well as inhouse magazine formats. ProSieben MAXX will be received in more than 70 percent of all German households, via satellite, DVB-T in Munich/Southern Bavaria, and through cable providers Kabel Deutschland, Primacom and others. Just recently, Unitymedia KabelBW announced it will provide the new channel on analog and digital. On September 4, 2013, ProSieben MAXX started showing in its daytime slots the YEP! branded block, with established premium titles and free-TV premieres for a young, mainly male target group between 6 and 13 years of age. Among the programs are the free-TV premieres of new seasons of the successful TV series Pokémon and One Piece, as well as the TV premiere of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal season two. Further highlights come from the superhero, action and adventure genres. POSITIONING

YEP! is targeting the content needs of kids aged 6 to 13, primarily boys but not excluding girl audiences. YEP! offers a wide range of high-quality programs and delivers a broad diversity of genres with German kids’ television. In addition to action and adventure, comedy, fantasy, mystery and sci-fi have their place. YEP! is male, young, sporty and modern. The programs on the channel offer a high potential for viewer identification and entertainment. Boys are searching for idols, offbeat characters and cool TV formats. YEP! allows heroes and their stories to take center stage. The brand strategy and content provide the basis for all activities on further platforms and distribution channels. The complementary and distinctive positioning is unique in German free TV. YEP! airs from Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. (including lead-in from Warner Bros.) The Saturday schedule is 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Sundays, it runs from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. (including lead-in from Warner Bros.)

Plan of action: Superheroes and adventure abound on YEP!, which offers up shows like Nerd Corps’ Storm Hawks.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

International anime brands like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto and One Piece serve as long-term, consistent output and all have huge fan communities and strong audience loyalty. Hero stories such as Storm Hawks, Spectacular SpiderMan, Men in Black and Jackie Chan Adventures offer high identification potential and will also appeal to adults. The schedule will also include formats such as Drei Freunde und Jerry, Die Cramp Twins and Immer Ärger mit Newton, delivering entertaining slapstick, action and verbal humor.

Double trouble: The YEP! mix features Die Cramp Twins, delivering comedy and entertaining slapstick.


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What’s Being Said About m4e

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“On behalf of Platinum Films in the U.K. we would like to extend our congratulations to m4e and Telescreen on their respective anniversaries. Undoubtedly they are the best in their territory, with a talent for producing and distributing high-quality children’s

entertainment franchises with strong international broadcast and commercial appeal. They are people you can rely on to recognize and build on the strengths of a property and they can always be trusted to do the right thing for their partners.”

Nigel Stone, CEO, Platinum Films “It looks like yesterday when Ulli told me that he has founded his company, m4e. I am really proud to be working with them as they celebrate their tenth anniversary. It is a true sign of success indeed. I sincerely congratulate Ulli and another valued partner Telescreen who are celebrating 30 years for their achievements and look forward to continue with many more years of collaboration and true friendship!”

Iginio Straffi, Chairman & CEO, Rainbow Group “Heroes for heroes: the team of YEP! congratulates m4e AG on its 10-year anniversary. We’re looking forward to a heroic time with you!”

Karola Bayr, CEO, YEP! “One of the Nickelodeon brands in the Netherlands, Kindernet, was actually founded by the predecessor of Telescreen, so in a way both brands are more related than many people are aware of. Nickelodeon still airs programming produced by them, like Mia and me, which does well for us. Here is to another 30 years!”

Victor Coolman, VP of Programming, Nickelodeon Northern Europe


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Animasia Studio • Chuck Chicken • ABC Monsters • Harry & Bunny Show Geared toward kids between the ages of 7 and 11 is Chuck Chicken, an action comedy. The series, co-produced by Animasia Studio, Agogo and Neptuno Films, is set to complete production early next year. ABC Monsters is an educational yet entertaining preschool program that is complemented by an application, which is available for free download in Apple’s App Store. Other highlights from Animasia Studio include Harry & Bunny Show, a nondialogue slapstick comedy, and Turturbo, a show about a turtlepowered racing machine. “Both series are targeted at kids 7 to 11 and we are open for co-production/co-financing opportunities,” says Edmund Chan, the company’s managing director. According to Chan, all four titles are globally appealing due to their top-notch character designs, powerful story lines and high animation quality.

“We are always on the lookout for great partnerships to co-produce/co-finance our development slates.” —Edmund Chan Harry & Bunny Show

Atlantyca Entertainment • Geronimo Stilton • Bat Pat • Taka & Maka

Following the life of a mouse journalist, Geronimo Stilton has been licensed in more than 100 countries around the world. “Geronimo Stilton, the animated series, saw its first ever U.S. premiere with the launch of the Geronimo Stilton: Operation Shufongfong DVD from Entertainment One,” says Pedro Citaristi, the distribution manager for Atlantyca Entertainment. “The new disc features four exciting adventures!” Bat Pat is an animated comedy involving supernatural activity.Then there is Taka & Maka, a new show from Tiktak Production,Techtonik and Giant Wheel Animation that “relates the adventures and misfortunes of Taka and Maka, two crazy geckos who live in the same house,” says Citaristi. Additional titles being sold by the company include The Fixies, a popular animated property from Russia, and the second season of Dive Olly Dive.

“Our core strategy is to develop new content specifically for books, television and licensed merchandise.” —Pedro Citaristi Bat Pat

Australian Children’s Television Foundation • Worst Year of My Life, Again • WAC—World Animal Championships • Handball Heroes Already presold to CBBC in the U.K., Worst Year of My Life, Again tells the story of a teenage boy who must re-live one of the least favorable years of his existence. Tim Hegarty, an international sales executive at the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, describes the program as being “very funny and very clever.” WAC—World Animal Championships seeks to identify the types of animals that are the strongest, smelliest, cutest and deadliest, among other classifications. “Presented in a highly entertaining way, this show is not only educational, it’s lots of fun,” says Hegarty. Handball Heroes follows two hosts as they travel across Australia to learn different handball skills.The company is also offering up the second season of You’re Skitting Me, a sketch-comedy show that first launched at last year’s MIPTV.

“Topquality liveaction content for kids is not easy to find.” —Tim Hegarty Worst Year of My Life, Again

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AVA Entertainment • TYON with Taekwon Heroes • KAMBU in Mystery Island A pair of animated properties leads the slate that AVA Entertainment, a distribution and licensing company, is offering to global buyers.The first, titled TYON with Taekwon Heroes, centers on a troublemaker who grows up learning Taekwondo and must prepare to defeat an evil force on the day of Armageddon.The program, meant for youngsters between the ages of 7 and 13, is currently in production. Another highlight from AVA Entertainment is KAMBU in Mystery Island. The preschool show is about a group of friends tasked with delivering mail to the residents of Mystery Island. There is also Heroes of the City, another animated preschool series, which follows a team of rescue vehicles working in a small town. All titles are available in English.

TYON with Taekwon Heroes

KAMBU in Mystery Island

BRB Internacional • InviZimals • Filly Funtasia • Mica

Adapted from a Sony Computer Entertainment game, InviZimals is an animated television program that incorporates elements of augmented reality. Filly Funtasia centers on the adventures of Rose and her friends at the Magic Royal Academy of Funtasia. Based on an educational book from Santillana, Mica is a CGI series about an imaginative young girl. “These three new shows, already in production, will start airing worldwide during 2014,” says Carlos Biern, the CEO of BRB Internacional. The productions, he notes, are “based on brands that have already been successful, coming from toys, publishing and video games.” This makes it “much easier to convince a broadcaster and merchandising companies that [the properties] are a success already without a TV show, instead of going the other way around.”

“We have more shows coming from successful applications, music and other important categories of the kids’ business.” —Carlos Biern Filly Funtasia

Breakthrough Entertainment • Zerby Derby • Rocket Monkeys Remote-control cars are the stars of Zerby Derby, a new live-action series that is being presented by Breakthrough Entertainment.The show has already been presold to PBS Kids Sprout, TVO in Canada and MBC in South Korea.There is also Rocket Monkeys, which follows a pair of primate brothers as they help save the universe. “Rocket Monkeys easily entertains and has proven to appeal strongly to the very popular boys’ 6-to-11 audience with its slapstick and physical humor,” says Nat Abraham, the president of distribution at Breakthrough Entertainment. “Rocket Monkeys was quickly picked up by Nickelodeon worldwide, however, for many regions the free-TV rights will become available after the initial windows.The series has reached and maintained the number one spot for several weeks on TELETOON for boys 6 to 11!”

“Asia and Latin America have been significant growth markets for us.” —Nat Abraham Rocket Monkeys

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CAKE • Wanda and the Alien • Trunk Train • Space Racers Launching for the first time at MIPCOM is Wanda and the Alien, an animated series about a bunny and an alien who crash-landed on Earth. “Wanda and the Alien has a very strong, fresh and modern look, while still appealing to classic tastes,” says Tom van Waveren, the CEO and creative director of CAKE. Trunk Train is a Brazilian cartoon comedy that follows the journey of an elephant with memory loss and a vegetarian anteater. “The pacing and comedy are very international,” says van Waveren of Trunk Train. “With the first episodes already extremely successful in Brazil, we are confident our clients will broadly embrace it, as it should simply make them laugh!” Another highlight from CAKE is Space Racers, an action comedy for preschoolers about jet-propelled planes that fly through space. “We always remain on the lookout for more partnerships, be it on the broadcast, branding or production side of our business,” notes van Waveren of his MIPCOM plans.

“We have seen digital platforms significantly grow in key markets these past few years.” —Tom van Waveren Wanda and the Alien


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Cyber Group Studios • Mini Ninjas • Mia • Pom Pom and Friends Adapted from a video game, Mini Ninjas is an action series focused on a group of 12-year-old ninjas who are tasked with defending the Land Below the Clouds from a warlord named Ashida. “The series will sell very well in Asia as there is a high demand for top-quality HD action series,” says Carole Brin, the VP of international sales and acquisitions for Cyber Group Studios. “And the cultural background is also very attractive to [broadcasters]!” Mia is an animated show about a brave young mouse. “The series is very universal and the children who form part of our very young audience will be able to identify with the characters of Mia and her friends,” says Brin. Meant for 2- to 5-year-olds, Pom Pom and Friends encourages youngsters to discover the world around them and solve problems using creativity. “The program is positive, interactive and is based on a cognitive and fact-based approach,” adds Brin.

“Cyber Group Studios now has a catalogue of 1,000 half-hours of HD programming.” —Carole Brin Mia


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Daewon Media • GON • Paboo & Mojies An action-packed animated series about a dinosaur-like creature, GON is currently airing on TVB in Hong Kong, EBS in Korea and Cartoon Network in India. “With many positive responses for its high-quality animation and the action-based, super-fun stories, we are currently building up a full toy and merchandised-item lineup for GON, including sound-recognition talking toys,” says Bul-Kyung Kim, the director of Daewon Media’s content division. “Rainbow, our European partner, is currently looking for key partners and we have finalized partners for some of the main territories in Asia.” Also on the company’s MIPCOM slate is Paboo & Mojies, a 2D preschool program based on transforming alphabet toys.The show, co-produced with Sega Toys, is broadcast by BS Fuji in Japan and YoYo TV in Taiwan. A set of transforming alphabet toys, complete with letters A to Z, has been fully developed as a companion to the show.

“We are aiming for the sales of GON in North and South America.” —Bul-Kyung Kim GON


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DHX Media • Dr. Dimensionpants! • Topsy & Tim • Grandpa in My Pocket Aimed at children between the ages of 6 and 11, Dr. Dimensionpants! is an animated show about a boy who becomes a superhero when he wears a pair of glowing pants that came out of an interdimensional portal. “It’s being produced wholly out of our Vancouver studio and has a wealth of animation talent behind it,” says Josh Scherba, the senior VP of distribution at DHX Media. “TELETOON is already on board and we anticipate great things internationally for the show.” From Darrall Macqueen comes Topsy & Tim, a book-based liveaction series led by a twin brother and sister. “The series is faithful to the heritage of the much-loved books, which have sold over 21 million copies over the past 53 years, but has been given a warm, authentic and contemporary feel,” says Scherba. Another title being offered by DHX is Grandpa in My Pocket, a live-action program centered on a grandfather who uses a magic shrinking cap to fit into his grandson’s pocket.

“We are committed to expanding our OTT presence.” —Josh Scherba Dr. Dimensionpants!


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DQ Entertainment • The Jungle Book • The New Adventures of Peter Pan • Lanfeust Quest The main focus for DQ Entertainment at this year’s event is to promote its flagship properties The Jungle Book and The New Adventures of Peter Pan, both of which are being produced for second seasons. Other highlights include Lanfeust Quest, produced in partnership with Gaumont Animation, and Robin Hood—Mischief in Sherwood, made with partner Method Animation. “Shows like The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Robin Hood find their origins in all-time popular classics that have charmed readers for many generations,” says Tapaas Chakravarti, the chairman and CEO of DQ Entertainment. “These shows bring to life the timeless literary masterpieces in a way that appeals to 21st-century children, with captivating settings, enchanting characters and stories that remain strongly embedded in minds and hearts. The high production values of these shows are packed with action, adventure and fun. These characters are universally known to viewers.”

“We are looking to align with other coproducers and partners who share our passion for creating world-class properties.” —Tapaas Chakravarti The New Adventures of Peter Pan


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DreamWorks Animation • Turbo F.A.S.T. • Dragons: Riders of Berk • Postman Pat AwesomenessTV was recently acquired by DreamWorks Animation and a series based on the popular YouTube channel is being presented at this year’s MIPCOM.The company is also showcasing Turbo F.A.S.T., an animated series that is scheduled to debut on Netflix later this year, and Dragons: Riders of Berk, which has found success on Cartoon Network and is slated to launch on such freeTV channels as France Télévisions, SUPER RTL in Germany, CBBC in the U.K. and Australia’s ABC, to name a few.Then there is Postman Pat, a stop-motion series with the revered British mailman. “Our focus at this year’s show is to share the unparalleled depth and breadth of our portfolio and grow the excitement for our brands across the global marketplace,” says Chloe van den Berg, the executive VP of international at DreamWorks Animation.

“We’re excited to spread the word on AwesomenessTV and expand its reach across a number of platforms for a worldwide audience.” —Chloe van den Berg Postman Pat

Entertainment One Family • Simon’s Cat • Oscar & Hoo • Winston Steinburger

With more than 30 shorts currently available, Simon’s Cat follows a troublemaking kitty that is always looking for food. “It is a true family brand in the sense that analysis of the views on YouTube and on the Simonscat.com website show that you have as many kid viewers as there are adults watching [the shorts], which is pretty unique,” says Olivier Dumont, the managing director of Entertainment One (eOne) Family and Licensing. Meanwhile, Oscar & Hoo is an animated series that helps young viewers deal with their feelings. There is also the slapstick comedy Winston Steinburger. “Slapstick comedies are so much in demand these days,” says Dumont. “There seems to be a clear shortage in the market and as a result we believe that Winston will sell extremely well internationally.”

“Oscar & Hoo ’s presentation at Cartoon Forum in 2010 was the most-attended session that year, clearly demonstrating the commercial appeal of the property.” —Olivier Dumont Oscar & Hoo

Foothill Entertainment • Boy and the Dinosaur • Spike Team • The Assistants The preschool program Boy and the Dinosaur features such themes as friendship, exploration and discovery.The animated series, which chronicles the adventures of a child and his prehistoric companion, features visual storytelling, physical comedy and an educational philosophy. Spike Team, centered on a volleyball team, “shows that belief and determination can overcome adversity,” says Jo Kavanagh-Payne, the president of Foothill Entertainment. Also being promoted by the company this year is The Assistants, which Kavanagh-Payne describes as “a teen comedy for anyone whose first job was not what they expected. It proves that life does roll on.” She adds, “Because MIP Junior focuses on the children’s market, that is our bread and butter—we always view the market as a place to highlight new shows and showcase new development.”

“With our U.K. office up and running, we are targeting building new relationships in Europe.” —Jo Kavanagh-Payne Boy and the Dinosaur 294 World Screen 10/13


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Gaumont Animation • Lanfeust Quest • Calimero • Dude, That’s My Ghost! Set in the imaginary world of Troy, Lanfeust Quest is a 3D animated comedy about a teenager who finds himself in charge of an object with mystical powers. “Lanfeust is a hero/character that viewers can identify with,” says Pierre Belaïsch, the managing director of Gaumont Animation. “[It is the] perfect mix between the epic and the comedic that makes this show different and distinctive.” Another 3D animated comedy on offer from Gaumont Animation is Calimero, which tells the story of a lovable little chicken. The property, which has been around for half a century, is popular in territories across the globe. The company is also serving up Dude,That’s My Ghost!, a 2D animation led by a young filmmaker who befriends the spirit of a pop star.

“We are promoting our recent shows worldwide, putting emphasis on their quality in a very competitive market.” —Pierre Belaïsch Lanfeust Quest

Hasbro Studios • My Little Pony Friendship is Magic • My Little Pony Equestria Girls • Littlest Pet Shop

Girl-skewed programming is what tops the list at Hasbro Studios for this year’s MIP Junior and MIPCOM.Among the titles being showcased is the successful series My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, the fourth season of which is currently in production.There is also My Little Pony Equestria Girls, which is a long-form My Little Pony special, and Littlest Pet Shop, an animated comedy adventure about a tween girl and the pets she cares for. “For boys, we have Transformers Prime Beast Hunters (season three), which continues to roll out across the world, complemented by Rescue Bots, our youngerskewing Transformers series,” notes Finn Arnesen, Hasbro’s senior VP of international distribution and development. “Our slate is well balanced to appeal to boys, girls and families, all of whom can really immerse themselves in our entertainment franchises.”

“Hasbro Studios will be highlighting our strong lineup of girlfocused properties.” —Finn Arnesen My Little Pony Equestria Girls

HIT Entertainment • Mike the Knight • Fireman Sam • Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway The second season of Mike the Knight, a CGI animated preschool show that takes place during medieval times, recently launched on CBeebies in the U.K. and Nickelodeon in the U.S. “We’re excited to be offering the new series to our existing and new partners following the huge global success of season one,” says Michael Carrington, the VP and head of content for HIT Entertainment’s global brands. Other highlights include Fireman Sam and Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway, a Thomas the Tank Engine special. “Our programs have universal appeal, whether they are set in a medieval kingdom, a working fire station or on the Island of Sodor, because we develop our stories from a preschool child’s perspective,” says Carrington. “These shows extend beyond television to games, the web and interactive digital media.”

“We are inviting those who don’t know us well to discover the diversity and richness of the content we produce.” —Michael Carrington Mike the Knight 296 World Screen 10/13


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PGS ENTERTAINMENT

5 BLOCKBUSTER YEARS

Guillaume (left) and Philippe Soutter By Mansha Daswani

In 2008, Philippe and Guillaume Soutter established PGS Entertainment in Paris as a dedicated distributor of high-quality kids’ content. In five years it has amassed a catalogue of represented titles that includes global hits such as The Little Prince and The Jungle Bunch. The brothers share with TV Kids their strategy for finding success in the children’s media business today.

TV KIDS: What did you want to achieve when you

established PGS? PHILIPPE: Our idea was to create a company that would

focus solely on the distribution of kids’ content. We thought that was something the market was missing. Our vision was to have the best kids’ producers partnered with the best kids’ distributor and the best kids’ broadcasters.We believed that you could achieve amazing things with the right combination of partnerships. We started with Method Animation and their properties The Little Prince and Iron Man: Armored Adventures. That was followed by Samka, with whom we did Marsupilami, and Nerd Corps for League of Super Evil. GUILLAUME: What really helped us was the great success of The Little Prince. It was the first iconic kids’ book com-

ing back on the market as a massive kids’ brand with an incredible budget of over $20 million. In 2008, the market was and still is crowded with channels. Parents were confused as to which platforms they could trust for their kids. We brought a show to television that kids would love and parents would like them to watch. It captured everyone’s interest at a time when co-viewing and building a safe place for kids and families was starting to be a must. Icons have been a big part of our representation, especially with Method with shows like Chaplin & Co, Robin Hood, and with Samka on Marsupilami. The next big thing will be content with a purpose for the 6 and up age group, as kids after preschool also want to be entertained and learn cool things along the way. This is what we are working on with A Squared (A2) Entertainment with shows like Secret KidVenture Club and Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab. TV KIDS: How has PGS grown over the past five years? PHILIPPE: In terms of fresh catalogue, we’re in the top

ten providers of kids’ content in the world.We don’t have a library, we don’t own 70,000 half-hours produced in the ’80s, but in terms of our ability to provide fresh content, deliver what broadcasters want across the world, we’re quite active. We have over 400 clients around the world. We work on all five continents. We launch over $50 million worth of productions each year with nearly 150 half-hours. But it’s not about volume. It’s about quality.The more amazing shows we represent, the more interesting it is for broadcasters to work with us and the more leverage we can provide to the producers we represent. GUILLAUME: What we’ve been developing over the past year is our move from a distribution company to a brand-management company.We want to be able to support the brand development of property owners not only through television and video, but on all platforms


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from licensing, merchandising, music publishing and so on. We created one of the largest kids’ management companies in traditional media and aim to replicate this on an all-rights basis to the best benefit of the producers we represent. Our mantra remains the same: Provide the service the leading kids’ producers deserve when it comes to international distribution. TV KIDS: What do you look for when expanding your catalogue? GUILLAUME: While we’ve been working on iconic brands, it has always been important to us to remain fresh. A good example of that is The Jungle Bunch. We started with a movie special. It’s not the most exciting format to have as a distributor, but we believed in the brand and its long-term potential. It was sold in 140 territories to all major broadcasters around the world. The trust that everybody had in the franchise and this crazy story of a penguin who thinks he’s a tiger led the producer to greenlight a 52x11-minute series, which is now in production with a budget of over $10 million and already picked up worldwide. We will support it on all media with a big partnership to be unveiled quite soon. TV KIDS: For producers, what are the advantages of

working with PGS? PHILIPPE: The company does over 200 days of international travel a year.We do over 25 markets, conferences and fairs. We have the ability to support those costs because we represent several producers and we can make this profitable. Because the international market is so important in kids, some producers will choose to do international sales internally. Our pitch to them is “what is your time worth?” Your job is to always be developing the next big IP and find one or two big partners to make this dream happen. Our job, once you’re able to do that, is to support 200 more deals—or 2,000 deals if there’s merchandise across the world. The longevity of many of our partnerships is the best proof of the advantage of working with us. The market is rapidly reshaping itself and recently, even more than before, everybody gets that you can’t be number one at everything. TV KIDS: What’s the strategy for increasing your

partner network? PHILIPPE: Always being the one with the next big

hit. At the end of the day, it’s all about content. It’s about having the best shows and a diverse lineup. It’s

about investing a lot of money in the development of the brands once they are delivered through the products’ concept, style guide and online marketing support. It’s about being more and more effective at our job. Being only focused on the brand-management side and not on the development of shows has allowed our business to grow faster. GUILLAUME: A good example is PGS Hong Kong, which I am setting up. It is providing a local presence in a market that is already very important to us, and with that local presence we expect to foster an even bigger presence. It also shows our commitment to stay on top of the development of the services we provide. TV KIDS: How have you been working with digital

platforms? GUILLAUME: We are already working with Netflix and various local platforms across the globe and are going to announce some interesting new partnerships in this field. We will continue to work with all platforms. For us, what always matters is having the right show, as it brings interest from all platforms. TV KIDS: What have been the key elements of PGS’s

success? PHILIPPE: In retrospect, it was luck and timing for

sure. On top of hard work, it has been a disruptive business model that remains unique in the marketplace. We watched it and asked ourselves, What would be a cool distribution partner for a producer of animation? They want somebody who knows about kids, and they want a partner who is not their competitor (i.e., also a distributor), so let’s do it!

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MILESTONES PGS ENTERTAINMENT LAUNCHES Philippe and Guillaume Soutter knew exactly what kind of company they wanted when they created PGS Entertainment in 2008; one that would be exclusively devoted to the distribution of kids’ programming. They wanted to represent only the highest quality kids’ shows, some based on iconic brands, some based on fresh ideas. This unique business model has been central to the company’s success. “We strongly believe that it’s quality that makes a profit in this industry, not volume,” says Philippe. “We had the possibility to be in the business of acquiring libraries, acquiring catalogues, etc. We respect this strategy, but it’s not ours.”

THE LITTLE PRINCE $25M GREENLIGHT From Method Animation, The Little Prince has emerged as one of PGS’s most successful properties. Now in its third season, with sales to major free-to-air broadcasters across the globe, the series has aired across 150 markets. “What really helped us was the great success of The Little Prince,” says Guillaume on the importance of the show, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s hugely successful children’s book, to PGS’s growth story. “It also helped us to continue in this new direction of working with iconic brands, which have been very strong for us the past few years.”

PGS PARTNERS WITH SAMKA, NERD CORPS, TAT & STUDIO HARI This year kicked off an expansion in PGS’s base of partner production companies. Following its early success with Method Animation, PGS’s network of alliances grew to include Nerd Corps Entertainment (League of Super Evil), Samka Productions (Marsupilami),TAT Productions (Spike, The Jungle Bunch) and Studio Hari (The Gees).


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BEST DISTRIBUTOR PRIZE PGS Entertainment received the TV France International Export Prize for the best distributor of the year in animation.

A2 REPRESENTATION A milestone this year is the deal with A Squared (A2) Entertainment, the company founded by Andy and Amy Heyward. “This deal was a milestone in our ability to represent some of the best kids’ content coming out of the U.S. and a new genre that will revolutionize content for kids 6 and up. With a focus on ‘content with a purpose,’ shows like Secret KidVenture Club teach the basics of finance to kids and Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab explores science in a fun way,” says Philippe.

1,000-PLUS HALF-HOURS Marking its fifth anniversary, PGS represents more than 1,000 half-hours of content airing on broadcasters such as ABC Australia, Cartoon Network, CTC, Discovery, Disney, DR, France 3, ITV, MTV3, Nickelodeon, Super RTL, RAI, TELETOON, Televisa, TVE, TVQ, RTBF, RTS, VRT and many more.

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NEW AT PGS Iconic Brands

PGS Entertainment is a leading international brandmanagement company dedicated to kids’ and family content and targeting the entertainment fields of broadcast, home entertainment, digital, licensing and merchandising. PGS Entertainment specializes in high-profile programs for kids’ and family viewing and handles a catalogue of over 1,000 half-hours of programming. The catalogue includes internationally acclaimed properties from Method Animation (Ladybug, Heroes United, Robin Hood— Mischief in Sherwood, The Little Prince, Chaplin & Co, Iron Man: Armored Adventures); A Squared Entertainment (Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab, Secret KidVenture Club, Martha & Friends, Gisele & the Green Team); TAT Productions (The Jungle Bunch, Spike); Nerd Corps Entertainment (League of Super Evil); Samka (Marsupilami Hoobah Hoobah Hop!); Studio Hari (Leon, The Gees); Prod Par 4 (One Minute Before); La Station Animation (Mister Otter) and others to come.

PGS Entertainment Hong Kong

Guillaume runs the new office in Hong Kong, which “will work specifically on the Asian market.”

This region “has been growing and growing for us,” he says. “There’s still money and exciting things happening in Europe, but Asia is very dynamic right now and has been a key part of PGS’s development over the past five years. By establishing a permanent presence and dedicated staff in Hong Kong, we are able to provide producers we work with the kind of representation they need in the region while being closer to our growing Asian client base.”

Brand Management PGS is evolving from being a content distributor to a broader brand-management company. PGS is currently developing with TAT Productions a full licensing rollout for The Jungle Bunch, which will also include in-house co-development of key categories, such as publishing, toy concepts and games. The brand-management team will also work on larger family brands while remaining focused on icons. Recently, PGS began working with the Village People brand. Village People is the biggest branded disco group of all time and a billion-dollar franchise throughout the years.

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US...

Aton Soumache, Method Animation I’m happy to say I’ve seen the birth of PGS. It’s amazing how fast the time went by and the maturity this company acquired in such a short period of time. Together, we brought exciting animated TV series to the market such as The Little Prince, Chaplin, Robin Hood and many more. We’re proud to be part of the PGS adventure and we all believe the best years are yet to come.

Andy Heyward, A Squared Entertainment On behalf of ourselves and our own partners, Stan Lee, Warren Buffett, and the special personalities with whom we work, we are proud to partner with Philippe and Guillaume Soutter and their organization, the next new stars in the world of global distribution.

Jean-François Tosti, TAT Productions It has been and still is a real pleasure to work with Philippe and the PGS team. They have made incredible deals with our properties and took us to a top level all around the world. I really think PGS is the best distributor for our present and forthcoming projects, so Happy 5th and keep up the great work.

Samuel Kaminka, Samka Productions They’re young, smart, funny—and they work hard! We have worked together since the beginning of PGS and I am impressed by what they achieved in only five years.

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S An animated film trilogy created by and starring comic book legend Stan Lee. Fantasy meets reality and comedy meets adventure in this new reality comic adventure. A crew of aliens crash lands on Earth and become superheroes.While Lee wants them to save the world, they have other plans! Voice cast includes Christian Slater, Teri Hatcher, Armie Hammer, Mayim Bialik and Jim Belushi, among others. From A2 Entertainment, POW! Entertainment and Archie Comics. Partners include The Hub.

The TAT Productions show started as a TV movie; it now has a 52x11-minute CGI series. Maurice is a penguin who sees himself as a tiger. His adopted son Junior is a tiger fish.The remaining cast of characters includes an affectionate gorilla, a singing warthog and more. Commissioned by France TĂŠlĂŠvisions and SUPER RTL with other key broadcasters that include Rai 2, Cartoon Network, RTVE, ABC Australia and Nickelodeon.

A new 26x30-minute HD CGI series for kids 6 to 10 produced by Zagtoon, Method Animation and Toei, with TF1 as the commissioning broadcaster. Evil creatures called Akumas are attacking Paris and transforming people into supervillains. Two students, Marinette and Adrien, however, become the superheroes Ladybug and Black Cat.This is the first European co-pro for Toei, featuring Parisian settings, American-style heroes and French elegance.

A mix of fantasy, offbeat humor and iconic characters, including a ranger, an elf, a dwarf, an enchantress and a goblin.This brand-new TV series produced by Nomad and So Mad studio has been commissioned by Canal+. The 52x7minute animation, produced in HD CGI, focuses on Zangdar, who uses his inherited fortune to acquire a castle that he must protect from those seeking to acquire its treasures. It is based on a series of popular French audiobooks.

This action-adventure series produced in CGI native 3D is targeted at kids aged 4 to 8. It features Alex the Knight, Ruby Red the Pirate, Agent Gene, Twinkle Dust the Fairy and their friends facing a range of foes in the world of Playmobil, which has a 92percent brand awareness among children in Europe. The Method Animation and Morgen Studios production encompasses 104 11-minute episodes and marks the first time the 40-year-old Playmobil brand has come to television.

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Hoho Rights • Cloudbabies • Everybody Loves a Moose • Abadas Four childlike characters looking after the sky is the plot of Cloudbabies, a preschool animation that Hoho Rights is presenting. “The series has record BBC iPlayer downloads going into the many millions, so naturally we are thrilled with how it has been received,” says Danielle Davies, the company’s head of sales and acquisitions. “We look forward to Cloudbabies being a tentpole program in other broadcasters’ schedules.” Everybody Loves a Moose is an animated slapstick comedy that spotlights the friendship between a boy and a socially awkward moose. A combination of animation and live action, Abadas helps children learn words through play. “Abadas pulls off the trick of combining an entertainment story line, where the character goes in search of an object, with a gentle educational element through the word game,” adds Davies.

“We look forward to extending our partnerships with broadcasters both new and old.” —Danielle Davies Cloudbabies

IMPS • The Smurfs • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute • From the World of Peyo to Planet Smurf

This month marks the 55th anniversary of the lovable blue creatures known as The Smurfs, which were first introduced as a series of comic characters by the Belgian comic artist Peyo, and later as a TV show. “This series has been a continued huge success since the 1980s,” says Nele De Wilde, the business affairs manager for audiovisual at IMPS, which is presenting the series at MIPCOM. IMPS also offers the feature film The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, based on the original Johan and Peewit comic book by Peyo released in 1958, and From the World of Peyo to Planet Smurf, a documentary about Peyo. “We’re heading to MIPCOM to reinforce existing partnerships and to increase our presence in certain markets like Asia and in the digital space,” says De Wilde.

“Our cheerful little blue friends experience the most exciting and magical adventures, which are appreciated worldwide.” —Nele De Wilde The Smurfs

MarVista Entertainment • Power Rangers Super Megaforce • Digimon Fusion • Julius Jr. Since 2010 MarVista Entertainment has been the international TV distributor of Power Rangers. The newest installment, titled Power Rangers Super Megaforce, is slated to premiere in the U.S. next year. “Power Rangers is the longest-running boys’ action series in TV history, with 3.5 million viewers every week on Nick and Nicktoons in the U.S., and has performed as a toprated series in many territories, including the U.K., France and Australia,” says Vanessa Shapiro, MarVista’s executive VP of sales. The company is also highlighting Digimon Fusion, the sixth series of the popular franchise about digital monsters, and Julius Jr., which is based on characters from the iconic Paul Frank brand. According to Shapiro, Julius Jr. was the mostrequested show to screen at last year’s MIP Junior.

“We will be showcasing for the first time complete episodes from the new series Julius Jr.” —Vanessa Shapiro Julius Jr.

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Mediatoon Distribution • The Garfield Show • Yakari • Kinky & Cosy The fourth season of The Garfield Show is being promoted by Mediatoon Distribution at this market.The new season watches as the famous feline travels to such exotic destinations as Italy and the Caribbean. It will be accompanied by a range of digital content, including online games, songs and videos. “We are very excited about launching the new season of Garfield and look forward to extending its reach globally,” says Jérôme Alby, Mediatoon’s deputy general manager. Meant for a younger demographic is Yakari, about a Sioux boy who can communicate with animals. A feature film based on the series is currently in production. For teens there is Kinky & Cosy, a Flash-animated show adapted from a comic strip. Alby describes the program as being “perfectly adapted for digital opportunities.”

“Our topquality series will appeal to buyers because they are based on evergreen and already wellestablished IP.” —Jérôme Alby The Garfield Show

Mondo TV S.p.A. • Gormiti • Dinofroz • Treasure Island

Pocket-sized collectible toys were the inspiration for Gormiti, co-produced by Giochi Preziosi and Mondo TV. The 3D CGI animated series, which is available in full high definition, centers on the new Princes of Gorm. Dinofroz is another co-production from Giochi Preziosi and Mondo TV, and is also based on a line of pocket-sized toys. Also a highlight is Treasure Island, a 3D CGI program based on the classic novel penned by Robert Louis Stevenson. “[These productions have] different genres and age-group targets, and this is why we can serve all broadcasters and catch their interest,” says Matteo Corradi, the CEO of Mondo TV S.p.A. “Beside these three titles we do have others; broadcasters will need to stop by and meet us at MIPCOM to hear more.”

“We are not targeting or focusing on one special territory or country; the world is our playground.” —Matteo Corradi Dinofroz

Nerd Corps Entertainment • Slugterra TV movie • Endangered Species Leading the slate that Nerd Corps Entertainment brings to Cannes is the first one-hour Slugterra television movie, which is due to debut in the spring of 2014. “Slugterra has already met substantial global success and is geared for more with international free-TV launches continuing throughout this year and next,” says Ken Faier, the president of Nerd Corps Entertainment. “Slugterra toys have been flying off shelves around the globe as they roll out in time with the series.” Also in the company’s lineup is Endangered Species, a new comedy for children between the ages of 6 and 11. “Endangered Species delivers a fresh visual take on kids’ comedy that will appeal to audiences all over the world, along with an extensive interactive strategy to really engage kids in the story,” adds Faier.

“Nerd Corps Entertainment has always been focused on innovative, characterdriven stories that captivate kids’ imaginations.” —Ken Faier Slugterra 306 World Screen 10/13


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Nottingham Forest • Sendokai Champions • Jokebox Co-produced by Kotoc and TVE, Sendokai Champions follows the adventures of four friends who must save the planet from a multidimensional invasion. “Sendokai Champions has great international potential,” says David Pérez Andrés, the director of business development and sales at Nottingham Forest. “Sendokai Champions is being broadcast in Spain on Clan, the leading kids’ channel, and in more than 50 Latin American countries through Cartoon Network.” Jokebox is an animated sketch-comedy series for teens that first began airing on Turner Broadcasting System’s I.Sat in Latin America earlier this year. “Its sense of humor is fully international and thanks to its format, it has great multiplatform potential, not only for TV, but also through other media,” adds Pérez Andrés.

“Regarding Jokebox, it is probably the first and maybe one of the best 3D animated short comedy series.” —David Pérez Andrés Jokebox

Onza Distribution • The Avatars • Camera Kid

A first-timer at MIPCOM, Onza Distribution is representing a wide variety of programming. One of the company’s main offerings this year is The Avatars, which it is co-distributing with Boomerang TV International. “The Avatars proposes a modern, positive view of using new technologies,” says Gonzalo Sagardia, Onza Distribution’s managing director. “Thanks to this, the main characters live the dream of many youngsters: to become rock stars.” Another highlight is Camera Kid, a hidden-camera series. “Camera Kid is the kind of show that brings an entertaining and funny experience when watching TV with the whole family,” says Sagardia. “You cannot imagine how kids react when they come face to face with ants that speak to them through a TV, or how they handle awkward situations.This show is indeed amazing.”

“Our first goal is to present Onza Distribution to the market.” —Gonzalo Sagardia The Avatars

PGS Entertainment • Heroes United • The Jungle Bunch • Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 Based on the Playmobil toy line, Heroes United is an actionadventure program featuring such characters as pirates, knights, robots, cowgirls, fairies and princesses. “Playmobil is one of the most popular children’s brands around the world,” says Philippe Soutter, the president and co-founder of PGS Entertainment. “It has strong parental approval and exciting immersive worlds to ignite kids’ imaginations.” The Jungle Bunch tells the story of how a penguin’s egg wound up in the jungle.There is also Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 (SLAM7), a superhero series starring an animated Stan Lee. “The Jungle Bunch is a state-of-the-art, family-driven comedy with a track record of success,” says Soutter. “SLAM7 provides an exciting twist to the superhero genre, as well as fulfilling the market need for original prime-time animation for boys.”

“Our aim is to be a leading destination for media players around the world when it comes to kids’ animation.” —Philippe Soutter Heroes United 308 World Screen 10/13


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Planeta Junior • Egyxos De Agostini Publishing, De Agostini Editore/DeA Kids, Planeta Junior and Musicartoon are presenting at MIP Junior the first episode of their co-production Egyxos. The brand was developed by De Agostini Publishing, which launched a successful comic collection with more than 24 super-powered characters fighting for the control of the mysterious world of Egyxos. Now these characters have come to life on the small screen in a 26x30-minute 2D action series. Targeted to boys 8 to 12, Egyxos mixes adventures with humor. It tells the story of a mysterious civilization, lost in space and time, which makes its return to earth. The Egyxos are gifted with superpowers and are battling for domination in their kingdom.Two warrior brothers, the good and brave Kefer and the evil and cruel Exaton, are leading their armies to the final battle.

Egyxos

Rainbow • Winx Club • Mia and me • GON

The sixth season of the animated fairy adventure series Winx Club is one of Rainbow’s main offerings at this year’s MIP Junior and MIPCOM. Another highlight from the company is the sophomore season of Mia and me, a live-action and CGI series about a schoolgirl who leads a double life in the magical land of Centopia, where she is tasked with saving the world. There is also GON, an animated comedy program that stars a lovable and inquisitive creature that resembles a dinosaur. “These shows are strong, unique, contemporary, and have a proven track record of success and wide audiences,” says Luana Perrero, the TV sales manager at Rainbow. “They are funny and sweet and tell our audiences—boys, girls, preschoolers, co-viewers— stories they can relate to.”

“Rainbow is strengthening its presence in Latin America as well as in Australia.” —Luana Perrero Winx Club

Rainmaker Entertainment • ReBoot • Tiger’s Apprentice Mainframe Entertainment was recently relaunched as Rainmaker Entertainment’s television division. “Rainmaker’s focus is creating great content for features and the big screen, while the establishment of Mainframe allows for expansion of the company’s programming opportunities in television and cross-platform media,” says Michael Hefferon, the president and executive producer of Rainmaker Entertainment. “Both Rainmaker and its Mainframe division are keenly focused on producing engaging, audiencedriven content.” Titles being presented at MIPCOM include ReBoot, a new version of the CGI series that first aired in 1994, and Tiger’s Apprentice, which is based on Laurence Yep’s young-adult novels. “This modern-day fantasy is filled with classic Chinese lore, magic, comedy and lots of action,” says Hefferon.

“Beyond the development and production properties we’re taking to market, the company is actively looking for co-production opportunities for both feature film and television.” —Michael Hefferon Tiger’s Apprentice 310 World Screen 10/13


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Studio 100 Media • Tashi • SuperMegaHyperPets • Vic the Viking Geared toward 6- to 11-year-olds is Tashi, a new action-adventure show inspired by the Australian children’s books penned by Barbara and Anna Fienberg. “The series is mystical, action-packed and poised to captivate young audiences globally,” says Patrick Elmendorff, the managing director of Studio 100 Media. Also on the company’s slate is SuperMegaHyperPets, which features a combination of slapstick comedy and action. “It allows kids to go off on an adventure with the characters of SuperMegaHyperPets as they engage in the series and explore the key areas of teamwork, belief in oneself, empathy and responsibility,” says Elmendorff. Then there is Vic the Viking, a new CGI/3D program based on the nearly 40-year-old character. “Vic will appeal not only to a global market but to audiences young and old,” adds Elmendorff.

“Studio 100 Media will be taking a global approach and will focus on all territories.” —Patrick Elmendorff Tashi

Suzy’s Zoo • Suzy’s Zoo • Little Prince • Olive the Ostrich

Suzy’s Zoo was first created as a line of greeting cards in 1968. It now includes more than 200 characters on a variety of socialexpression products. The top brands being promoted this year include Suzy’s Zoo, Little Prince and Olive the Ostrich. “Our main focus for MIPCOM is selling the two-minute animated shorts based upon the Little Suzy’s Zoo character set, which were produced with our Japanese retail partner, Plaza Style, and [broadcaster] TBS,” says Cathy Malatesta, the president of Lawless Entertainment, which represents Suzy’s Zoo. “Additionally, we are looking to finalize the co-production for the Adventures in Duckport animated series, targeted to 2- to 6-year-old children.We are also focused on exploitation in all media for the brand to include television, DVD, publishing and licensing and merchandising.”

“A greater focus will continue to be placed on the Asian territories.” —Cathy Malatesta Suzy’s Zoo

Technicolor Digital Productions • Chamelia • The Deep • Atomic Puppet The new preschool show Chamelia spotlights a young chameleon who, unlike other members of her species, prefers to stand out in the world. “Chamelia’s universal appeal lies in the simple truth that every child is unique,” says Alison Warner, theVP of IP sales, acquisitions and co-productions for Technicolor Digital Productions. “Ultimately the show empowers children to feel good in their skin through funny and engaging stories about Chamelia and her two best friends, Cooper and Zoe.” Other highlights include The Deep, which follows a family of underwater explorers, and Atomic Puppet, about a superhero who is transformed into a puppet by his displeased sidekick. “Atomic Puppet’s sharp and witty humor in what is essentially a buddy comedy reflects the current global requirement for funny laugh-out-loud shows,” adds Warner.

“We continue to look for co-production partners for our shows in development.” —Alison Warner Atomic Puppet 312 World Screen 10/13


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Telescreen • Mia and me • Tip the Mouse • Moomin The second season of Mia and me, a fantasy adventure series about a girl who is responsible for saving a race of unicorns, is set to premiere next fall. “Mia and me already has a great track record,” says Sjoerd Raemakers, the general manager of Telescreen, an m4e company. Tip the Mouse, meanwhile, is a comedy inspired by the children’s book series of the same name. “Tip the Mouse already created a lot of interest last year at MIP Junior, and now the series is in production,” says Raemakers. “The design and content are both charming and original. It’s a very special product for the preschool market.” Also in Telescreen’s catalogue is Moomin, a comedy about a family of creatures living in a valley. The show is based on the characters created by Tove Jansson.

“We will focus on placing our programs in the international online markets.” —Sjoerd Raemakers Tip the Mouse

Toon Goggles • www.toongoggles.com

Providing on-demand entertainment for children, the Toon Goggles platform is available online and as an app for iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Sony mobile devices. It is also pre-installed on such products as the Sharp Aquos LED TV, Techno Source’s Kurio7 Android Tablet for Families and on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, among others. “Toon Goggles started as a simple idea of utilizing the Internet to bring professionally produced children’s content through mobile devices without being hampered by the constraints of broadcast/cable television,” says Brendan Pollitz, the creative director of Toon Goggles. “Today we’ve grown into a mass-media tool to reach both kids and parents, attracting significant platform adoption and promotion from the top consumer electronics companies throughout the world.”

“This year we intend to expand our multi-language library of content.” —Brendan Pollitz Toon Goggles on Kurio tablet

Toonmax Media • Beijing Opera Cats • Stone Bone Rocks • NuNu&LuLu The kung fu adventure comedy Beijing Opera Cats is aimed at viewers between the ages of 6 and 11.Toonmax Media is showcasing the property this year in Cannes, along with the slapstick comedies Stone Bone Rocks and NuNu&LuLu, which target ages 8 to 11 and 4 to 6, respectively. “The Toonmax 2013 portfolio to be presented at MIPCOM is very diverse and eclectic,” says Ye Chao, the company’s general manager. “All Toonmax shows have distinctive and attractive graphic designs, portray humor and comedy and have those universal values that will appeal to kids worldwide. Furthermore, the main characters in each are appealing, fun and are all totally kid-relatable.” He adds, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to share our animation with the international animation community.”

“We will be targeting the key European territories such as the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, and the North American market.” —Ye Chao NuNu&LuLu 314 World Screen 10/13


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Toonzone Studios • Tiny Warriors • BigFoot/LittleFoot • Action Dad Combining the world of martial arts with the cyber universe is Tiny Warriors, an action-adventure show. “Each of the warrior characters capture the personalities of real kids put in fantastic situations, giving this series a true global appeal for children everywhere,” says Konnie Kwak, the CEO of Toonzone Studios. BigFoot/LittleFoot is a comedy about a pair of unusual teenage twins. “Kids everywhere will love how we’ve taken the global legend of Bigfoot and put a hilarious fish-out-ofwater spin on it, with not one but two of these hairy creatures,” says Kwak. Another comedy highlight from the company is Action Dad, which focuses on a spy family. “Action Dad represents the dynamics of families all over the world and as a result creates a fun co-viewing experience,” adds Kwak.

“We’re very excited to unveil three highly entertaining, everlasting series that have the potential to be breakout hits all over the world.” Tiny Warriors

—Konnie Kwak

Xilam Animation • The Race • Paprika • Welcome to the Ronks

The first full CGI television series for Xilam Animation, The Race is an action comedy centered on the adventures of a young pilot. Paprika is a preschool series that follows the lives of Stan and Oliver, who always find a way to make the best out of unpleasant situations. Welcome to the Ronks is about an alien who was sent to Earth to help a tribe evolve. “You never know what will be buyers’ reactions when you present the fruit of your dreams and ideas, because each new series is like a prototype based on our creativity,” says Erick Rouillé, the company’s executive VP of sales for TV and licensing. “We have such beautiful new projects. We [are looking] for coproduction partners and hope to convince major broadcasters to come on board.”

“We try to create shows that generate big merchandising and licensing potential.” —Erick Rouillé Paprika

ZDF Enterprises • Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures • Q Pootle 5 • Knight Rusty Blending fantasy and realism, Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures is a liveaction series about an ordinary teen who encounters extraordinary circumstances. The show is an adaptation of the books by Australian author Justin D’Ath. “There’s more to it than adventure,” says Peter Lang, the VP of ZDFE.junior. “It’s about family and friendship as well, and combines comedy and action along with exciting adventures.” ZDF Enterprises also brings to market the younger-skewing Q Pootle 5, along with Knight Rusty. “If there’s a message we’re trying to reinforce, it’s this: kids may like to see things blowing up on the big and small screens, but at the end of the day, it’s stories with flesh-and-blood—and sometimes scrap-metal—characters that fascinate them, intrigue them and lastingly stimulate their imaginations,” adds Lang.

“We’re looking for shows with a timeless quality.” —Peter Lang Q Pootle 5 316 World Screen 10/13


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o r g wt h

SPURT

m4e’s Mia and me.

How important is scale in the kids’ business today? Andy Fry investigates. ake no mistake—running an independent kids’ outfit is a tough business. While everyone dreams of having a lucrative breakout hit like Power Rangers or Peppa Pig, the reality is that many indies are engaged in a day-to-day battle for survival. The key reason for this is the high cost of creating a kids’ property and the length of time it takes to get a return on investment. With broadcast licence fees almost never high enough to cover the cost of production, many indie studios pin their hopes on having a licensing hit. But this requires further financial outlay and even more time. If, at this point, the show doesn’t gain traction at retail, the studio (and its investors) is left with a serious shortfall. The perils of this risk-reward scenario are made worse by the fact that the kids’ market is heavily over-supplied. Any indie studio that enters the fray is competing with vertically integrated majors like Disney and Viacom, toy companies like Hasbro and broadcaster-backed outfits like BBC Worldwide and

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RTL-owned FremantleMedia. Even if they get past these guys, indies are still faced with dozens of other firms doing the same thing, a situation that invariably leads to undercutting on price. It’s no real surprise, then, that so many kids’ indies view consolidation as their best hope of success.Whether by merging with or acquiring other firms, or sheltering beneath the wing of a bigger business, increased scale has been a top priority for a number of the sector’s best-known names. DHX Media is a case in point. Back in 1997, Steven DeNure was the founder of an ambitious Toronto-based start-up called DECODE Entertainment. Today DECODE is part of DHX, and DeNure is president and COO. So what happened? “At every stage of our development, we set ourselves targets and goals,” DeNure says. “When we achieved them, we’d ask ourselves, ‘what next?’ Invariably, the ‘what next?’ would involve creating a larger company to realize our ambitions.” DeNure says this journey has never been about growth for growth’s sake, but about adding elements that would maintain


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Passing time: Through its acquisition of the EM.TV library, Studio 100 acquired the classic Heidi brand, which it is updating with a new CGI series.

the group’s ability to compete. “Fundamentally, this company has always been about creating great kids’ shows, and that’s what we still strive to achieve with titles like Johnny Test, SheZow and Dr. Dimensionpants! But the ability to do this again and again requires critical mass. It requires capital to fund development and production, and the kind of cashflow that comes from having a strong sales-and-distribution business.” CANADIAN COMBO

The road map to today’s DHX—which most recently bought Teletubbies producer Ragdoll—began when DECODE joined forces with Halifax Film Company in 2006. This was a decisive moment because DHX, the newly formed company, was launched on the stock market, raising about C$20 million ($19 million) in funds for expansion. From this point on, the success or failure of the company has been linked with the capital markets, says DeNure. “It’s been a cycle of raising money to grow the company, doing what we said we’d do, then going back and raising more money for the next phase of development,” he says. The merger of DECODE and Halifax, for example, was about increasing the size of the distribution catalogue and freeing up funds for development.The subsequent addition of Studio B was about bringing in complementary talent and building DHX’s animation servicing business. Then came the purchase of L.A.-based W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and its preschool show Yo Gabba Gabba! While all this was going on, another Canadian firm, Cookie Jar Entertainment, had also built up a formidable business from the consolidation of CINAR and DIC Entertainment, among other libraries.“There came a point where the two companies realized it would be a smart idea to join forces because of the value that could be created,” says DeNure.“The deal gave us a broad-based slate made up of original and classic properties, the largest indie kids’ library in the world and a licensing business in Europe.” Through it all, says DeNure, the goal has been to grow at a measured pace. “We kept our growth projections real. A lot 322 World Screen 10/13

of companies took money from the capital markets, promised a big return from licensing and then never delivered. We don’t factor licensing revenues into our forecasts because they’re unreliable,” he says. DAY AT THE PARK

DHX is an example of indie studios leading the consolidation process. In this respect, the company is similar in profile to Studio 100, a Belgium-based business that has grown into a formidable player since it was launched in 1996 by a trio of TV executives. One of those founders, Hans Bourlon, is now CEO of the group. What does he see as the key milestones in Studio 100’s expansion? “We were having a lot of success in Belgium with shows like Samson en Gert and Kabouter Plop. So, we took the decision in 2000 to acquire an aging theme park [in Belgium] and revamp it based around our characters,” he says. That decision was a commercial masterstroke, with the theme park becoming a big success. Subsequently, Studio 100 acquired another four theme parks in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. “The theme park and TV parts of our business reinforced each other,” says Bourlon.“As our portfolio of shows and characters grew, we really benefited from the fact that families like to take their children to a world inhabited by their TV heroes when they want to spend quality time with them.” The Studio 100 business experienced ten years of solid growth, doubling in value every three to four years. Then, in 2008, it made its most ambitious move yet by acquiring German studio EM.TV for €41 million ($55 million).“EM.TV gave us a large amount of rights and content based around classic characters such as Maya the Bee,Vicky the Viking, Pippi Longstocking and Heidi,” says Bourlon.“We also secured Australian producer Flying Bark in the deal.” While the EM.TV purchase paved the way for Studio 100 to become a major player in Germany, it also provided the kind of assets that had the potential to travel worldwide, says Bourlon.The new CGI version of Maya the Bee has been sold to 130 countries, while Vic the Viking has been presold by distribution arm


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Shining armor: Mattel-owned HIT Entertainment is stepping up the licensing program around its latest preschool hit, Mike the Knight.

Studio 100 to 50-plus countries, including to TF1, ZDF and ABC in Australia. The decision to work with classic brands is a reflection of the way the kids’ market has moved in recent years, explains Bourlon. “At first glance, you might think old characters have little value. But it’s really tough these days to build a kids’ brand from a blank page. The old characters are a chance to engage with parents who grew up with them and still trust them. They’re also familiar to broadcasters and retailers.” The emphasis on classic international brands didn’t stop the process of brand development within Studio 100’s core Benelux market, however. House of Anubis, for one, was revamped for Nickelodeon U.S. following its success in Belgium and the Netherlands. Through it all, the theme parks have remained critical to the Studio 100 business. Accounting for more than half of the group’s earnings, they provide steady cash flow and a platform for promoting the group’s kids’ brands. So it’s no real surprise that Studio 100 is also exploring the creation of new indoor theme parks. RELIABLE SOURCES

In some respects, Studio 100’s theme-park revenues are analogous to the pay-TV subscription fees that provide Disney and Viacom with their strong financial foundations. Companies without that kind of durable revenue stream need to find another way of providing stable financial footing as they expand. This has clearly been part of the thinking at German brandmanagement firm m4e. Launched in 2003, the company was fundamentally a licensing and merchandising agent until 2007, when, with the German stock market looking favorably on content companies, it launched an IPO. “The plan from the beginning was to extend into original content so that we could build wholly owned 360-degree brands,” says Hans Ulrich Stoef, co-founder and CEO. “Using funds raised from the public offering, we wanted to manage the brand process from start to finish.” 324 World Screen 10/13

A key acquisition came in 2008, when m4e bought the Dutch kids’ outfit Telescreen. While this move was partly about integrating production into the m4e operation, it also transformed the company’s distribution capabilities.Today, following the purchase of the former TV-Loonland catalogue, the company has a catalogue of about 2,200 episodes, meaning that it has cashflow coming into the company while it builds its own kids’ brands. “This is an area we will continue to grow, assuming we can find third-party programming with all rights available,” says Stoef. As for developing new shows, m4e has unearthed a hit series: Mia and me. This live-action/CGI animation series “was a big success for us in Germany and has gone on to sell to 70 broadcasters worldwide,” Stoef says. “With a second series in production, it is also building momentum as a licensing property. Within Germany, it is now one of the top properties for girls.” With a feature film planned and the likes of Mattel, Panini and Egmont onboard for the international L&M rollout, Stoef is optimistic about Mia and me’s prospects heading into 2014. The big question, of course, is what happens next for m4e. In the short term, the company is developing shows like Tip the Mouse and Atchoo. But long term, can it amass more funds to drive growth? “It’s tough,” admits Stoef. “It’s getting harder to convince investors to provide entertainment companies with the funds they need to go to the next level.” It doesn’t help that m4e is based in Germany, adds Stoef. While the government has bent over backwards to subsidize film, “the German kids’ sector is at a real disadvantage compared to markets like France and the U.K.,” which have tax breaks for the content-production sector. One way in which m4e has tried to position itself for growth is the launch of YEP!, an ad-funded TV channel which, if successful, will provide a new revenue center. But what about further consolidation? “We’re open to all options—and we have been approached by companies,” Stoef says. “We need to decide whether we want to stay a midsize company or look at other ways to reach the next level.” YOUNG AT HEART

So far, the message is clear. To be a successful indie kids’ studio, you need to have the creative spirit of a small company but the commercial savvy of a big one. Another good illustration of this combination is Moonscoop LLC, the U.S.based indie studio that was formed in 2009 on the back of Mike Young Productions. Mike Young and his wife Liz established themselves in Wales before moving to the U.S. 24 years ago. In theory, this could have been a bad move, because changes in regulation meant the major U.S. studios were muscling in on the production market. “It was a tough time for the likes of Filmation, Hanna Barbera and Ruby-Spears,” recalls Young, “but we kept going because we had strong relationships with both U.S. and European broadcasters. Almost by accident, we discovered the coproduction model and survived.” Co-production also meant that Young was able to hold on to some rights to shows. He built up a robust library of titles, including Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, Pet Alien and ToddWorld, under his distribution arm,Taffy Entertainment.This was the situation until the middle of the last decade, at which point the Youngs made the first of two significant strategic moves. In 2005, he joined forces with Moonscoop SA in France. Four years later, Mike Young Productions and Taffy


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Hair-raising: Beyond representing titles produced by its own animation companies, DHX Media takes on third-party fare like SheZow.

Entertainment were rebranded as Moonscoop LLC.Young’s other big strategic move came in 2007. “We launched a kids’ VOD platform, Kabillion,” says Young. “At the time, the VOD market was very young and people wondered why an indie studio like ours would do it. But it proved to be a good decision. At last count we were in 45 million homes and achieving 6.7 million views a month for shows.” In some respects, Kabillion is Moonscoop LLC’s equivalent of Studio 100’s theme-park business. Although it is probably not generating the same levels of cash just yet, “it is very important in terms of driving other parts of our business,” says Young. “It is a useful negotiating platform when raising finance for shows, and it’s also a way of driving the licensing side of the business.” Anyone following the press will know Moonscoop SA recently entered administration, but Young says that this won’t affect the U.S. business. In an official statement, he said, “The U.S.-based Moonscoop LLC and Kabillion are independent and stand-alone entities in our production and corporate operations, financing and rights ownership.While Moonscoop France has an equity interest, we are a separate group and are both operationally and financially sound.” The background, saysYoung,“is that the two sides were looking to increase scale and presence—which is why we went into partnership. But we continued to operate as distinct entities behind the Moonscoop brand.” Young isn’t in a position to comment on the prospects for the French company, but in the U.S., the focus is on continuing to make great shows. HIT SEEKERS

The examples given so far focus on indies that have been the dominant partners in their merger and acquisition activities.This was also true for HIT Entertainment in the early years of its development, but not more recently. Launched by the late Peter Orton, HIT was a spin-off from The Jim Henson Company that cleverly exploited the capital markets to build up its presence in the preschool television mar-

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ket. During a period of around four to five years, starting at the end of the 1990s, it used stock-market money to fund the rollout of the hit show Bob the Builder and pull off a series of highprofile acquisitions. Among these were Lyrick (a deal which brought with it Barney & Friends), the Swiss preschool property Pingu and, most significantly, Gullane Entertainment, owner of Thomas & Friends. At one point, HIT was so hot that it had a stock-market capitalization of £600 million ($931 million). Things started to unravel when HIT was acquired by private-equity firm Apax in 2005. The deal, priced at around £490 million ($760 million), placed a large debt burden on the company at a time when its consumer-product revenues were slowing down. With Apax unable to make meaningful investments in the studio, HIT drifted along until 2011, when toy company Mattel acquired it for around $680 million. Edward Catchpole, HIT Entertainment’s senior VP and general manager, was part of the team that paved the way for the acquisition by Mattel. For him, the studio has finally found its right home.“Private-equity firms buy companies with the intention of making a profit and exiting after three to five years,” Catchpole says.“That’s not very long in the kids’ business, where content development can take three to four years. Contrast that with Mattel, which is in the kids’ business for keeps,” he says. For Catchpole, the Mattel/HIT deal made sense for both sides. “Mattel knew that times had changed and that it needed to be more than a toy company if it was going to keep engaging with its audiences. At the same time, HIT’s investment had been cut to a minimum and it needed a partner that could reinvest in its core properties and support development into new areas.” A year into the Mattel/HIT marriage, Catchpole says the businesses are integrated and the focus is on supporting core properties like Thomas. At the same time, Mattel has given HIT the resources necessary to expand into new areas. “We’ve hired Michael Carrington as our head of content and production. That’s a really key appointment which demonstrates our creative ambition.” But even when you have someone of Carrington’s credentials, is it possible to create exciting new concepts from within a global toy company like Mattel? “Absolutely,” says Catchpole, “I’m a fundamental believer that the story is key to the success of a property. You can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on special effects and CGI, but if your story doesn’t create an emotional connection with the audience, you’ll never sell any consumer products.We only work with the best writers.” In terms of strategic targets, Catchpole says that the girls’ preschool audience is an obvious gap in HIT’s portfolio.And where better to build a girls’ brand than Mattel, home to Barbie? In terms of the general theory of consolidation in the kids’ business, Catchpole believes it has a strong cyclical feel. “Kids’ is one of those businesses that constantly expands and contracts.You see companies growing through acquisition, then selling off non-core properties. At the same time, you see startups appearing out of nowhere and shaking up the market.” But what if a young Peter Orton appeared on the scene today? Would he still be able to build a successful studio or would the competition be too fierce? “I think the old TV funding model is broken, which is why so many companies have gotten in financial trouble,” says Catchpole. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for young entrepreneurial talent. Examples like Moshi Monsters and Angry Birds suggest that areas like digital, gaming and apps might be where new studios emerge.”


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Q ue s t BEST F O R

T H E

Breakthrough’s Rocket Monkeys.

A handful of top producers and distributors weigh in on the latest trends in children’s programming. By Kristin Brzoznowski etween TVs, DVDs, computers, video games and mobile phones, kids today are spending a great deal of time consuming media.And, just like their adult counterparts, they have an astonishing array of viewing options available to them. So what is it that has captured the attention of these discerning youngsters in today’s crowded TV landscape? A number of producers and distributors, among them Gaumont Animation, have noticed an upward trend in the appetite for kids’ comedy. Pierre Belaïsch, the company’s managing director, says that broadcasters are particularly

B

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fond of the genre because it’s generally a safe bet for grabbing audiences. “Broadcasters today don’t want to take big risks because their budgets are down and they need to make sure that whatever they put on air is going to be a success,” he says. “In that context, comedy is something that works. Whenever you are talking to broadcasters, wherever they come from, usually and often they are talking about comedy.” He adds that comedy can cover a wide range of audience demographics as well, appealing to boys and girls, young and old. “If you take a look at Dude,That’s My Ghost!, this is a pure


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Join the club: Rainbow is connecting Winx Club fans with the brand across multiple platforms.

buddy comedy that is doing well in Europe. We did a second season of Gawayn, which is a completely crazy show with lots of humor, and it’s also doing well in terms of sales, because it’s about laughing. Humor is something that broadcasters need to have.” Pierre Sissmann, the CEO of Cyber Group Studios, has also noticed this trend. “Broadcasters are all saying, We want comedy!” he notes. “You wouldn’t hear this ten years ago. Ten to 15 years ago it was all about action, adventure. Today it’s comedy, comedy, comedy. In fact, we’re even going into preschool and upper-preschool comedy. Preschool comedy is a fairly new genre; it existed before, but not to the extent that it’s happening now.” Sissmann also says that networks are looking more and more for big brands. “There’s a shyness about developing things from scratch that are totally unknown. With big brands, it’s easier to attract viewers, especially given the increasing competition between broadcasters.” He points out that the larger kids’ channels are the ones least shy about developing an unknown property, mainly because they have the financial resources to do so. “They can afford the development and have a huge distribution network, so then an unknown idea has the chance of becoming a big brand. Zou is an example of this. It was completely unknown as a brand when it started, and now it’s in more than 144 countries, in 44 languages.” BELOVED BRANDS

MarVista Entertainment, home to a number of established properties, has a similar view of the children’s TV landscape. “The market has become more fragmented as broadcasters have become more specialized in their attempts to differentiate themselves,” says Fernando Szew, the company’s CEO. “But there continues to be a strong demand for tried-and-true genres which, when done well, garner worldwide [attention]. Saban Brands’ Power Rangers, one of the toprated and longest-running boys’ live-action series in television history, is one such example.” At MIPCOM, MarVista will be debuting a brand-new season of Power Rangers, which is in its 20th-anniversary year. It will also be presenting buyers with Digimon Fusion and Julius Jr., both of which are based on existing franchises. “The current situation is that all kids’ broadcasters want well-known brands,” agrees Carlos Biern, the CEO of BRB Internacional. “They are looking for brands that have already proven to be successful in some business; this could be in a licensing or merchandising category or it could be that a character is already known in a certain territory” and can be incorporated into a TV show.


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One of the exceptions, he says, is if you come to a broadcaster with something that is “extremely interesting for kids on an interactive level, with respect to video games and applications.” Biern continues, “The reality is that kids have their tablets and smartphones running 24 hours a day. They spend more time than ever before playing and using interactive content. That’s good news for advertisers at the end of the day.” Biern emphasizes that he’s excited about all the possibilities these new technologies can offer to the kids’ market. BRB is currently focusing its efforts on developing second-screen applications and interactive elements for the series InviZimals. The show is based on a successful PlayStation video-game franchise that has sold more than 1 million units in Europe. Tablets and smartphones weren’t very widespread when the games were first released, but thanks to these new developments a whole world of possibilities has opened up to extend the brand. InviZimals is using augmented reality techniques in a second-screen application. “With smartphones and the iPad you can download the free application and kids will be able to have an interactive experience translated into the story itself,” Biern says. Cyber Group’s Sissmann is equally enthusiastic about interactivity in children’s content. He says that it’s no longer about passive watching—the future is all about engagement. “We’re still in the first tier of the [digital and interactive] trend,” says Sissmann. “The market is not yet mature. A lot of the big producers do a series and immediately have a website to give to the broadcasters. Then there’s the app market. For our series today, we budget apps when we budget the series. We budget digital entertainment at the same time we are developing new productions.” GETTING RECOGNIZED

Rainbow is also benefiting from the exposure of having its properties seen across multiple platforms, according to Luana Perrero, the company’s manager of TV sales. “For brands like ours, Winx Club and Huntik in particular, there is the opportunity to have content available across all platforms and thus build greater recognition.”Winx Club, for example, has its own website as well as a dedicated online portal via Nickelodeon that includes games and more. These new devices and interactive features are also reshaping the way that stories can be told. “The greatest opportunity [in the kids’ business today] is that you can tell your story on different platforms,” says Konnie Kwak, the CEO of Toonzone Studios, which is offer-

Ghost with the most: Gaumont Animation has noticed a trend for kids’ comedy, which has translated into interest for its series Dude, That’s My Ghost!


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Ready for action: Among the latest offerings from Toonzone Studios, which entered the kids’ content business nearly seven years ago, is Tiny Warriors, a live-action/animation hybrid.

ing up the new series Tiny Warriors and BigFoot, LittleFoot to the market. “If you have solid development and storytelling, then you can tell your story in multiple ways using different platforms.” Toonzone has been in the children’s programming business for almost seven years, and in that time Kwak has seen a slew of changes in the landscape. Notably, she says, now “you can launch your show through nontraditional avenues such as mobile games, YouTube, Kickstarter, et cetera. This is exciting for independent producers.” Another shift Kwak has observed in the market is that the business has become more international. “International presales and coproductions are crucial,” she says. Nat Abraham, the president of distribution at Breakthrough Entertainment, says that the globalization of the kids’ market has made doing business more challenging. “One of the biggest challenges is creating content that caters to children’s broadcasters’ needs on a global level,” he says. “What might skew older in one territory may skew younger in others. There are also different cultural sensitivities globally that would factor into a show’s overall success. In various countries, there are also advertising restrictions with kids’ content which could prevent some broadcasters from taking on multiple episodes or additional seasons of a series.” GOING GLOBAL

Breakthrough has met this challenge head-on by amassing a slate of third-party children’s shows and in-house productions that it believes resonate globally. “Our latest live-action series Zerby Derby has a universal sensitivity and should relate well to kids from all countries and cultures. If you have the content that kids everywhere can easily relate to, then there is always a strong potential for success.” Abraham says that recently Breakthrough has seen growth in children’s time slots and channels in Europe and SVOD channels within Asia, which have opened up new opportunities. MarVista’s Szew reports that the company does the majority of its kids’ business with blocks on free-to-air and dedicated cable channels, though he says this is changing as digital terrestrial channels are increasingly specializing in kids’ content and gaining a foothold in penetration and ratings. “We have done very well with the kids’ content we have been distributing in the last couple of years around the world, but we have seen an interesting market shift in southern Europe with the growth of digital terrestrial,” Szew says. “For example, there is ferocious demand for kids’


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We are warriors: Cyber Group Studios, which is offering the market Mini Ninjas, has been busy developing apps, e-books and websites to complement its brands.

content in Italy, and Power Rangers has been very successful in France with the digital terrestrial channel Gulli, garnering record-setting ratings.” Belaïsch at Gaumont Animation has seen new sales opportunities opening up in Asia, with Japan standing out as a particular bright spot. “We have closed a partnership with TV Tokyo in Japan for Calimero. We know that TV Tokyo wants to develop new co-productions with French and other European producers, so for us, Asia might be a new territory. If Calimero is doing well in Asia and in Japan, it may bring some of our other shows to the region; we have many to offer that are more designed for Asian viewers. That would be a new destination for us.” MONEY TALKS

At the end of the day, it’s all about going where the money is. “In order to create a great, creative show, you have to have the financing,” says Belaïsch. “You have to get the money to produce it. So we’re looking at every kind of service that could bring money to a show. Globally, right now a massive part of our business comes from free-to-air stations. If you look at TF1, RAI or SUPER RTL for Calimero, or dealing with Disney on a European basis for Dude,That’s My Ghost! or Disney Junior for Calimero or M6 for Lanfeust Quest, that’s where the money is. We’re talking to everyone, but first of all we’re talking to major players and free-to-air. “We’re also having discussions with different kinds of digital platforms,” he adds. “Digital is still emerging and it’s more about promoting shows. We’re trying to be on both” traditional television and digital platforms, he says. So while the kids’ landscape has been getting healthier and expanding, it’s no longer enough just to come up with a good idea. Broadcasters (and viewers) are looking for the bells and whistles. “As well as TV content, you need a 360-degree transmedia approach to maximize revenues,” says Rainbow’s Perrero. “The new-media sector especially is growing, and buyers are buying again, but the budgets of traditional players are tight and they are cherry-picking only the best products with proven success. We cater to this approach, but also to the new players that are coming to us with bold strategies.”


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TV KIDS

brand design Mansha Daswani reports on key trends in the kids’ licensing and merchandising business.

eOne Family’s Peppa Pig.

There are lots of factors parents will consider when deciding whether or not to buy something for their child—safety, educational value, durability, price point, the ability to keep them entertained for hours on end…. Increasingly, even the creative auspices of a toy or other piece of merchandise is becoming a major condition in purchasing decisions, according to a report issued by the research firm NPD Group earlier this summer. The survey found that 56 percent of parents considered the license that inspired a product an important factor when evaluating toy purchases. That sentiment is reflected in retail figures—sales of licensed toys rose 4 percent this summer, as compared with a 2-percent decline in overall toy sales in the U.S. While the big theatrical franchises—Iron Man, The Avengers, etc.—continue to dominate the licensed merchandise business, television remains an essential platform for building brand recognition for kids, particularly in a major segment of the business: preschool. “For preschool it’s key to establish yourself well on traditional TV before you roll out your licensing program,” observes Olivier Dumont, the managing director of Entertainment One (eOne) Family and Licensing.The


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TV KIDS

Easy rider: Power Rangers Megaforce from Saban Brands has licensees across numerous categories worldwide.

ideal model, he says, is to let a show build an audience base on television for 12 to 18 months before a licensing program can be launched at retail. That’s the road eOne Family took with its megahit Peppa Pig, which airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S. and the U.K., among a host of other broadcasters. Ensuring good television slots was Dumont’s initial priority and now that that’s been achieved his team can focus on the L&M rollout worldwide. “The licensing program is really on fire in Spain, Italy, Australia, it’s doing really well in the U.S., and we have Latin America lined up next.” Rollouts are also slated for other markets in Europe and Asia, Dumont notes. The international L&M campaign for Peppa follows on the show’s British success, which, Dumont says, shows no sign of waning. “In the U.K., we thought we were plateauing and we were working really hard to maintain the licensing at a very high level. But we found that we’re progressing again this year. We’ve had quite a few new deals in the FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] section.We’re working very closely with retailers.We just had a promotion with [retailer ASDA] called Super Daddy and it was extremely successful, because dads actually love Peppa, they love watching it with their kids.”

The opportunities in the British preschool L&M space are also being pursued by Hoho Entertainment, which counts Cloudbabies and Toddler Time among its portfolio of properties. The TV series Cloudbabies has a strong broadcast platform in the U.K., airing on leading preschool channel CBeebies. At Brand Licensing Europe (BLE), Hoho will be looking to shore up new partners on the brand. The goal, says Helen Howells, Hoho’s joint managing director, is “to establish the brand beyond the TV by partnering with good toy and publishing companies who have a clear track record in the preschool market and who understand the challenges that all new projects face in today’s retail environment.” Toddler Time, meanwhile, is a book franchise that Hoho is looking to extend via licensed merchandise and retailer partnerships. TIME FOR TOTS

Even Saban Brands, home to the boys’ megahit Power Rangers, is getting into the preschool business with Julius Jr., an offshoot of the Paul Frank lifestyle character. FisherPrice has signed up as toy partner for the new animated series. “Consumers can expect a full range of products, including play sets, plush, roleplay toys and much more in the global marketplace,” says Kirk Bloomgarden, senior VP of global consumer products at Saban Brands. “Since the Paul Frank brand already has a set fan base, we foresee great success with Julius Jr. at retail.” Already well established in the preschool arena is American Greetings Properties (AGP), home to Care Bears, Holly Hobbie and Strawberry Shortcake, which Carla Silva, the VP of global licensing, refers to as “our beloved evergreen brands.” Merchandise around the three properties targets the core preschool set, Silva says, but there are also products aimed at juniors (teens and tweens) and infants. While all three have a slew of licensing relationships, AGP will be looking at new ways to extend the brands at BLE. “We look for partners who believe in the brands as much as we do…who are able to create innovative opportunities and unique campaigns, without compromising the integrity of our brands,” she says. For Strawberry Shortcake, a lead priority will be signing on distributors for the new toy line due


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TV KIDS

9

from The Bridge Direct in fall 2014. On Care Bears, meanwhile, the focus will be on the apparel, publishing and back-toschool categories. “We’ve also seen tremendous interest in our juniors’ program, which has been proven through our direct-to-retail partnerships with H&M and Benetton this year,” Silva notes.“We will continue to expand this demographic across additional regions.” The Holly Hobbie program, meanwhile, is expanding across Europe, reaching into new territories such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey, and a refreshed apparel line is being prepped for the spring. ACTION PACKED

A developing area of opportunity for AGP is the lucrative boys’ action sphere with the Disney XD series Packages from Planet X. Dumont at eOne Family is also gearing up for expansion into this space, with a boys’ action series currently in development. Planning ahead, Dumont says that merchandise around that as-yet-unannounced brand will have to be lined up ahead of the television debut, unlike the preschool business, where there tends to be a significant time lag between the broadcast premiere and an L&M launch. “It’s a bit like a theatrical release when you’re doing boys’ action adventure. Everything needs to be ready for the day of the launch of your program on TV.” ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE), for example, is already looking at the merchandise program for the new Thunderbirds series, Thunderbirds Are Go, a remake of the ’60s classic that is still in development. “We are already working closely with Vivid Imaginations, who signed as master toy partner for the E.U. with worldwide manufacturing rights, excluding Asia, to launch in 2015,” says Trudi Hayward, the senior VP and director of global merchandising at ITVS GE. “We’re also starting a series of highly targeted licensing discussions for other categories at BLE. We will also be launching our Classic Thunderbirds 50th anniversary licensing program, so there will be plenty to excite Thunderbirds fans old and new.” Another veteran property celebrating a milestone anniversary is Saban Brands’ Power Rangers. “The Power Rangers 20th anniversary products have been a huge success for us this year,” says Bloomgarden.“We also had limited edition Comic-Con International exclusive items that were selling out like wildfire at the show. Super fans and kids alike have also shown great excitement over products such as the Power Rangers 20th Anniversary Editions of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit that recently became available for purchase.”

Boosting the brand this year is the new season in the franchise, Power Rangers Megaforce, which has been rolling out worldwide courtesy of MarVista Entertainment. “We have licensed Power Rangers Megaforce to Channel 5 in the U.K., and we will be announcing additional distribution partners during MIPCOM,” Bloomgarden says. The British broadcaster adds to a global footprint that includes Nickelodeon and Nicktoons in North America;YTV and TELETOON in Canada; and Gulli and Canal J in France, among others. Meanwhile, the next iteration, Power Rangers Super Megaforce, premiering on Nickelodeon across the globe in 2014, is due to be presented to international broadcasters at MIP Junior. At BLE, Saban Brands will be meeting with its L&M partners to introduce the new season. “We are working with our existing partners to transition toys and merchandise from Power Rangers Megaforce to Power Rangers Super Megaforce,” says Bloomgarden.“With all of our partners and especially with our global master toy licensee, Bandai, we work closely to make sure the toy transition between seasons is a smooth, natural progression. We work to ensure all items are show-accurate and on shelf and ready for when the show debuts.” Another boys’ action brand on Saban’s books is Digimon, a Japaneseoriginated property

Back in time: Mondo TV S.p.A.’s Dinofroz is based on an existing toy line.

Young at heart: While largely a preschool brand, AGP’s Care Bears also features apparel aimed at teens and tweens.


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10 TV KIDS

Don’t let go!: Hoho will be at BLE with a preschool portfolio that includes Toddler Time.

that was first introduced to the U.S. in 1999.The show is being updated with Digimon Fusion, which launched on Nickelodeon U.S. this September, with an international rollout to follow. “Through the new series, upcoming licensed merchandise and mobile and online integrations, Digimon Fusion will allow fans to connect with the digital world within the series for the first time ever,” Bloomgarden says. TOYS TO TV

Mondo TV S.p.A. also has a portfolio of boy-skewing properties that are already known to kids, notably Gormiti and Dinofroz, based on existing toy brands.The company is also showcasing The Drakers, which Roberta Puppo, international licensing manager, refers to as an “exciting racing series,” being made in conjunction with Ferrari. “The continued interest of boys in cars and in everything related to the racing world has led Mondo TV to start its collaboration with Ferrari to make The Drakers,” adds Moris Calasso, licensing sales manager for Mondo TV Consumer Products. Also a priority for BLE is the video game Tetris.“It’s one of the most recognized brands worldwide,” Puppo says.

“We are working to celebrate the 30th anniversary in 2014.” While having a brand with built-in awareness certainly helps in the ultra-competitive kids’ L&M business, it is possible to find success with a new property, as Xilam has done with Oggy and the Cockroaches. The animated series has been the company’s biggest success thus far on the merchandising side, according to Erick Rouillé, executive VP of TV sales and licensing.The show has signed some 30 licensing partners in France alone, and the company is now working on building out the L&M campaign internationally “given the worldwide visibility of the series,” Rouillé says. “While there has been a retrenchment back to the classic brands in the last few years, there is an opportunity for retailers and licensees to get behind wellthought-through new brands and to be more confident about identifying the hits of the future,” observes Hoho’s Howells. LET’S GET DIGITAL

The digital space is proving to be an intriguing way to build awareness of new brands. “We’re definitely going to be launching properties as digital first, even before TV,” notes eOne Family’s Dumont. “We’ve watched the rise and popularity of nontraditional brands transforming into huge licensing properties,” states Saban’s Bloomgarden. “We have seen this trend spread throughout the digital and gaming realm with titles like Angry Birds creating merchandise. In anticipation of this trend, we’ve grown our digital capabilities with the acquisition of Zui.com and The Playforge last year. We can foresee future licensing opportunities with all of our priorities, including The Playforge, our mobile social game developer who is known for its internationally successful Zombie Farm games.” Digital extensions in general have become an essential part of developing broad licensing campaigns for properties. “The digital space is absolutely critical for kids’ brands in this online age,” says ITVS GE’s Hayward. “No


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brand strategy is complete without a digital strand. Being able to offer exclusive digital content to partners is crucial. Retail partners are seeing increasing online sales and being able to offer kids’ content is proving critical for them. Many see this as a way to evolve their own online sales strategy, driving the family audience.” Games, apps and e-books provide “another opportunity for us to complement our existing consumer-products program and connect new content with consumers,” says AGP’s Silva. “We work closely with our digital team and we’ve seen a great response with our new Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears apps. Digital entertainment is also a crucial aspect of our global licensing strategy.” According to Xilam’s Rouillé, apps in particular are a must. “This is instrumental to strengthen the marketing around our properties, develop a good feeling and affinity from consumers and generate added value.” “Children are getting to grips with all sorts of handheld devices (mobiles, iPads, tablets, etc.) at a very early age these days,” says Hoho’s Howells. “Apps probably play a greater role today than websites as these devices are so intuitive and children are capable of finding their way around the games independently by simple trial and error.” The growth in mobile and tablet usage among kids has led Saban to take an “omni-channel management approach with all properties, in order to extend our brands into markets worldwide and to consumers of all ages,” says Bloomgarden. “Additionally, e-commerce websites and online sales have become extremely important within the marketplace, as sites like Amazon.com have become bigger than ever.” SUCCESS STORIES

Xilam is also taking a multifaceted approach to developing consumer-products programs for its properties, Rouillé explains. “There is no generic rule; it’s on a case-by-case basis. According to the potential of the property, we can either decide to work with a broadcaster or with agents. Sometimes broadcasters don’t have structures dedicated to the licensing business and it does not make sense always to work with them. Agents are often much better [prepared] to deal on a daily basis with manufacturers, designers and retailers. Efficiency of the brand management and the property’s visibility at retail are our only priorities.” As for what kinds of properties lend themselves to L&M campaigns, Rouillé believes there are certain subject matters that translate particularly well—“cars, animals, robots, superheroes, etc.” Equally important, however, is the volume of episodes produced for a show and its worldwide exposure in good television slots. Saban recently reorganized its consumer-products division in part to “streamline the process between licensees, retailers and all business partners globally,” says Bloomgarden.“By thinking globally and acting locally, we are able to

focus on the global expansion of licensing programs for all properties and on driving the strategic consumerproduct plans with licensees, retailers, broadcasters and agencies worldwide.” At eOne Family, expanding its licensing capabilities has taken the form of the acquisition of Art Impressions, home to lifestyle brands like So So Happy and Skelanimals. “We want to be present in and launch products for each of the key demos of the licensing arena,” Dumont says. Plus, given eOne’s expanding theatrical-moviedistribution business, “we want to be equipped to do the licensing programs for the big teenage franchises such as Twilight or The Hunger Games in the key markets where we do the theatrical distribution. With [the Art Impressions] acquisition we demonstrate that we know the target demo and we know how to handle a licensing program targeted to teenagers.” At ITVS GE, Hayward and her team are expanding their business by talking on third-party properties like Matt Hatter Chronicles, which airs on CITV, and the gaming app Cut the Rope. Ultimately, “there is no magic solution to ensure the success of a licensing program,” says Xilam’s Rouillé. “Being lucky is also part of the solution!”

Love is in the air: Xilam’s most successful property on the L&M front has been Oggy and the Cockroaches.


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41 Entertainment’s Released into the world in 1980, the maze-traversing doteater PAC-MAN was a global arcade game phenomenon throughout the ’80s. Dormant outside of the video-game arena for the last two decades, the iconic character has been refreshed courtesy of former Marvel Studios head Avi Arad, brand-owner NAMCO Bandai and Allen Bohbot’s 41 Entertainment. PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures is currently in its first season on Disney XD in the U.S., with a second season in the works and sales across the globe. Bohbot, the chairman and CEO of 41 Entertainment, tells TV Kids about his unique approach to building brands for kids in a crowded marketplace.

TV KIDS: How are you positioning 41 Entertainment in the kids’ media business today? BOHBOT: I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I’ve seen the industry change. In the beginning, it was all about having a big catalogue, and independent animation studios thought that success was measured by how many projects they produced a year. The mentality was that success was achieved through quantity. However, broadcast networks around the world are not looking to buy quantity—they’re looking for quality and want to find those few selective hits. There may be a market for libraries in terms of new digital platforms, but even Netflix has enough quantity, at least in the United States. The whole world is looking for the same thing: that selective premium brand that can really break through to the consumer. To answer your question, our objective a few years ago was to set up a company that specializes in the animation business, with a focus on building brands that we can manage in all forms and venues worldwide. We wanted to build the infrastructure to distribute domestically and internationally; manage the licensing and merchandising internally, with our staff and with the use of high-quality agents; and carefully manage the broadcast landscape and the digital rights all under one roof. We speak to retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, DVD distributors and digital companies.We knew that a brand with history and legacy was the key. With those guidelines, our first brand was PAC-MAN, because it met all of our criteria. If indeed the animation TV business is becoming more like the animation theatrical business, as we believe, then we want to take on one major project every 12 to 18 months. DreamWorks and Pixar do not produce and release five to ten movies a year; they do one or two.We did PAC-MAN.We’ve already commissioned season two—or the sequel, in theatrical terms. For 2014 at MIPTV, we’ll announce another new series for 2015 that will likewise be an important proj-

Allen Bohbot ect. If we get bold and think we can do two, we’ll do two. But that’s it. Once you have one project that really works, it’s equal to the revenue stream of ten average properties. I’ve done enough average properties to know that the work is the same, the cost is the same, the time is the same, but the results aren’t the same. TV KIDS: What are the major challenges for independent kids’ companies today? BOHBOT: You’re going to see lots of companies really struggling because they have overextended themselves by making too many shows. If they can’t sell them and

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was immediate. Avi was right again. By February 2012, the group, including NAMCO Bandai Games, Arad Productions and 41 Entertainment, commissioned the entire project of 26 episodes with Disney XD support in the U.S. Today, the ratings are strong in the U.S. and merchandise is just getting into retail. The property launches internationally in February of next year. We have already commissioned another season, and most international partners are buying both seasons now. TV KIDS: How important is it to have

a known brand in this landscape? BOHBOT: Retailers are focused on major

properties—Batman, Despicable Me, Monsters, Inc., Spider-Man, etc. Besides that, there may be one to two additional properties per year that Walmart or Target or Toys “R” Us buys, and that’s it. It is the same with Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney. Just as we expected a few years ago, this is the “new normal.” TV KIDS: What are your plans for

PAC’s back!: Disney XD is the U.S. home of PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures, which is sold internationally by 41 Entertainment.

in fact broadcast license fees are dropping, where can these producers and distributors make their money? And due to the new economic realities, government subsidies are not the solution. Canada and France have a strong subsidy market, but how many hits come out of that business model? Not many. We live in America and get no subsidies. We compete solely on product. TV KIDS: How did your partnership with Avi Arad and NAMCO Bandai come about? BOHBOT: It started in 2010, the year of PAC-MAN’s 30th anniversary. Google dedicated its home page to PAC-MAN’s birthday. Avi saw that and realized that PAC-MAN had been a very under-marketed property. It was an arcade game more than anything else. He flew to see NAMCO Bandai Games in Tokyo, the property owner, and they agreed to do a couple of episodes in Avi Arad’s theatrical high quality. I was in Los Angeles in the fall of 2011 and Avi asked me to see the footage. He said, “Take it to MIPCOM and you will see the market reaction.” We took it to MIPCOM 2011 and the response

PAC-MAN as you head into MIP Junior and BLE? BOHBOT: In terms of MIPCOM and MIP Junior, the plans are very modest because we have already licensed to broadcasters in most markets. We’re there to reaffirm to everyone who bought it that they made the right judgment, and with those that have yet to buy the series, if this is an opportunity to do so, we are happy to discuss. At BLE, we’ll have a PAC-MAN booth with product and designs. We hope to sign many new partners in all categories and markets. Financially, we’ll do more business at Brand Licensing than we will at MIPCOM, but you do need MIPCOM. It’s still the one event every year that everybody goes to. We will have a dedicated PAC-MAN booth at MIPCOM and at Brand Licensing. The message from us is clear. We’re going to have one property per year and we’re going to make it very important in the market. In terms of products, from a pencil topper to underwear, we’re going to have almost a thousand PAC-MAN SKUs [stock-keeping units] by March when the international launch kicks off.Whether the kids are enjoying watching on TV or on a tablet, wearing the pajamas to bed or playing the new video game, that’s when you know that you created something that will last.


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Wood d i v a D By

! Y O B Boys’ action programming is a mainstay on a host of kids’ networks.

T

he mantra in the movie business for some time now has been that the money is where the boys are, as summer after summer, the Hollywood studios have released one big superhero blockbuster after the next. Naturally, those icons that went from comic books to the big screen are happily making the trip to television, where boys’ action has long been a mainstay. Disney, home to the Marvel library, has produced hit series based on Spider-Man and the Avengers, among others.Warner Bros.Animation is busy producing shows starring many of its DC Comics superheroes, such as Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go! Hub Network airs Transformers Prime, based on a Hasbro toy line that was turned into a feature-film trilogy by Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay. Producers of boys’ action shows are not solely depending on comic book legends for material though—one of Cartoon Network’s biggest franchises is Ben 10, based on an original idea. Arguably the biggest boys’ property today, Power Rangers, drew its inspiration 20 years ago from a Japanese series. As any parent will tell you, the most successful boys’ action franchises create entertainment that lends itself to inclusion in boys’ play patterns (and, perhaps increasingly, girls’ too). “Kids still are very active in their play patterns and like to mirror their heroes as much as they can when they play,” says Fernando Szew, the CEO of MarVista Entertainment, which distrib-

4K Media’s Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.

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Studies have shown that a single episode of a typical straight action series might be watched two to three times by a viewer, but a comedy or series with comedic elements might be watched ten times. As Faier explains: “With straight action, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.The emphasis is to up the ante and make everything bigger and better all the time. But with comedy, you can laugh over and over again.” PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Charging ahead: Saban Brands is updating the Digimon franchise with the new series Digimon Fusion, sold by MarVista.

Many owners of boys’ action brands have thought long and hard about how best to harness the dynamic of collectability in their shows. Get this part of a boys’ action show right and a series is likely to be quickly adopted into play patterns, increasing the potential for successful merchandising. Indeed, the most successful shows for boys are underpinned by a “robust ecosystem built around the shows, including licensed toys and merchandise to stimulate game-play, video games and sometimes even major motion pictures,” Dekel says. 4K Media’s global hit franchise Yu-Gi-Oh! began as a Japanese manga about gaming. Today, in addition to airing on networks across the globe, the show is accompanied by a successful trading-card game from Konami that has reportedly generated revenues of more than $18 billion worldwide. One way that boys’ action shows have tapped into boys’ interest in collectables is through the concept of morphing, as is the case with Nerd Corps’ Slugterra, which airs on Disney XD. “The mechanic of befriending slugs, training them and blasting them at 100 mph to transform them in battle taps right into boys’ love of collecting, competing and blasting,” says Faier. “These are the core components of the toy line from JAKKS Pacific, and they make the series a natural fit to cross over into other licensing categories, such as interactive.”

utes Saban Brands’ Power Rangers Samurai, Power Rangers Megaforce and Digimon Fusion. “That’s what boys’ action allows for: a lot of role play and running around.” The key to success is the genre’s ability to translate characters and story lines effectively into those play patterns, “whether it’s role-playing, mastery of challenging tasks or action figure play,” says Elie Dekel, the president of Saban Brands. “The shows that work best also have aspirational heroes, compelling and exciting content, deep and varied off-screen access, relatability and a strong sense of community among fans.” Another key element in popular action series for boys is comedy. “Networks and program makers are increasingly aware that comedy repeats far better than straight action adventure,” says Sander Schwartz, the president of FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment, which is working with Mattel and Nerd Corps Entertainment on a series based on the Max Steel toy line. “By combining the two genres, producers and broadcasters find they can sustain a show for much longer periods.” That’s a strategy backed by Ken Faier, the president of Nerd Corps Entertainment, who estimates that around 40 percent of his company’s titles can be classified as boys’ action, with hybrid shows such as the action comedy Slugterra showing how the genre has evolved. The introduction of increasing amounts of comedy into the boys’ action genre is in part driven by the expansion of kids’ entertainment in general, argues Faier. “There are around 24 to 25 specialist kids’ channels now, but their commissioning budgets are not getting any bigger, so they have to repeat things regularly. That’s one reason why comedy has become more evident in boys’ action shows—it increases the Powering up: FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment partnered repeatability of the programs.” with Mattel for a new Max Steel series, inspired by the toy line. 354 World Screen 10/13


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The Slugterra plan was to seed the marketplace with products that boys would demand first—blasters and slugs. Reaction to the shows on social networks such as Facebook will be used to inform the retail strategy, which will be further developed this year and beyond. DIGITAL MAZE

Packing a punch: Sendokai Champions from Nottingham Forest is based on a successful online video game.

Another challenging aspect of developing a boys’ action franchise is successfully managing the rollout of the various elements of a full-fledged boys’ action property, from TV to gaming as well as products for other interactive platforms. The development of second-screen apps for boys’ action brands is “practically de rigeur these days,” says FremantleMedia’s Schwartz. “In fact, second-screen apps are ever more critical to driving engagement of an audience for all kids’ shows.” Alison Warner, the VP of IP sales, acquisitions and coproductions at Technicolor Digital Productions, is taking the boy-skewed 2D-animated series Atomic Puppet to MIPCOM and has another action-adventure property, The Deep, waiting in the wings. She says that boys’ action shows don’t all have to be straight “shoot ’em-ups” in order to succeed, The Deep being a case in point. “The Deep is based on an award-winning graphic novel about a 12-year-old boy who lives with his family in a submarine and who goes on a series of amazing adventures, exploring uncharted areas of the world’s oceans. There are no fantastical monsters or aliens, but rather bigger versions of the real thing—real creatures, pirates, giant hermit crabs and so on. While there will always be jeopardy there won’t be lots of fighting or battling,” Warner says. Technicolor has also been working hard on the second-screen app for the series with interactive company Magic Ruby.“It will really enrich the viewing experience because it will sync in real time with whatever viewers are watching,” Warner says. “The app uses watermarking technology, which recognizes audio embedded in the video master to populate the second screen with relevant content.We hope it will be intriguing to boys and girls and will make them wonder what’s in our oceans.” Another company employing a different strategy when it comes to boys’ content is Mondo TV S.p.A.The company has teamed with Ferrari on the new animated series The Drakers, about cars

Faier adds, “There’s a tremendous amount of work involved in managing a property successfully, and it’s all about the rollout. What we have found is that when kids love something they immediately want a lot more of it. When you go to a Facebook page for a kids’ brand you often read comments such as: ‘Where’s the game for mobile? Where’s the Nintendo DS game? Where are the toys? Where’s the Android version?’” If you haven’t anticipated this demand up to a year in advance, you might miss the boat, says Faier. “At Nerd Corps we are good at TV but we are not a toy company. Despite that, we have to anticipate the needs of different manifestations of kids’ brands; the needs of publishers, toy companies and game designers.” You have to be ready for the potential demand, insists Faier. “It’s all about managing the supplyand-demand curve. How are you going to manage your retail exposure? How hard do you go in? If you don’t do it at all you might miss the opportunity, but if you go in too heavily with too much product that doesn’t sell in store then you will be out. It’s a balanc- Slug fest: Nerd Corps’ Slugterra airs on Disney XD in a number of territories and is ing act,” he comments. accompanied by a range of boy-targeted toys from JAKKS Pacific. 356 World Screen 10/13


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Behind the mask: Beast Keeper is one of a number of boyskewing animated titles represented by Mondo TV S.p.A.

and motoring. “Programs about racing cars, like The Drakers, are unique nowadays,” says Matteo Corradi, the company’s CEO. For some, the video-game aspect of any boys’ action franchise, from console games to mobile games for iPhone, iPad and Android, has had a big influence on the boys’ action genre. “Not only can kids now watch their favorite shows, but they have the ability to take control of the characters and play as them through gaming,” says Saban’s Dekel. FremantleMedia’s Schwartz adds that the style of shows has had to evolve to keep the visuals fresh and engaging for kids, with video games driving technical innovations in particular, from CGI to 3D and, in the future, possibly 4K or Ultra HD. “It’s provided lots of new tools for storytellers, producers and artists to use in new and different ways to entertain,” he says. VISIONS OF THE FUTURE

developer Activision has seen its kids’ franchise generate more than $500 million in U.S. sales over the last two years, with Skylanders Giants, the latest game in the franchise, generating more than $195 million in sales of games, accessory packs and figures. While Activision may have scored with Skylanders, Nerd Corps’ Faier insists that the $100,000 to $300,000 investment required for mobile games is more viable and less risky. The key thing to avoid with games is skimping on the development costs. Underinvestment often leads to a poor gaming experience that doesn’t reflect the core values of the property and simply ends up disappointing fans. Another reason that the gaming potential of kids’ properties shouldn’t be ignored is that the growing market for gaming can be used as a launch platform to reverse-engineer a TV series. For example, following the success of the Giochi Preziosi action figures and trading-card game Gormiti, Mondo TV signed on to produce a series based on the brand.The show has rolled out on Cartoon Network in 130-plus markets. Spanish producer Nottingham Forest also took inspiration from an existing property for its series Sendokai Champions. Launched as an online video game, it was played by 150,000 individuals in Spain, and went on to spawn an animated TV series co-produced by Kotoc and TVE. “The success of the series comes from a strong property with a powerful story line and characters,” says Laura García Ortega, Nottingham Forest’s head of international sales and licensing. “It’s important to remember that regardless of how good the game is, a boys’ action property does not work if you don’t have a great story, with powerful characters and values.” García Ortega concludes: “The way that content is consumed by children is changing quickly and we can no longer just focus on the TV screen. It is important to understand what children want more generally. Not just how they watch TV, but how they relate to their parents and friends, how they interact with content, even what products they like to buy from their favorite series.”

Until the late 1990s it was all about 2D animation, but now Flash, Harmony and CelAction, CGI, 3D CGI and stop-motion are being combined and composited in new and different ways to truly realize the creative visions of showrunners and creators. “Of course, shows have to compete with video games and other media for eyeballs, so the more stunning the visuals and better the storytelling, the greater potential the show will have for success,” Schwartz states. Most of the activity in games development is in the mobile and tablet space these days, with the market for console-based video games tough and getting tougher. It’s a fact underlined by the bankruptcy of North American games developer and publisher THQ in 2012. The development of console games has become increasingly irrelevant, with kids’ producers focusing their energies on mobile games, where there is plenty of demand for downloads. But there is an exception to every rule, in this case the success of Skylanders, a console-based video game with action figures to No ordinary hero: Technicolor’s Atomic Puppet is an action comedy about a boy and his stimulate the play patterns. Games puppet sidekick. 358 World Screen 10/13


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By Anna Carugati

DreamWorks Animation (DWA), the largest animation studio in the world, has produced a long list of beloved franchises, from Shrek and Madagascar to Kung Fu Panda and more. CEO and director Jeffrey Katzenberg has been changing the studio’s course. Rather than only producing feature films and some television shows, DWA is ramping up development and producing content for all sorts of platforms. Last year, DWA acquired Classic Media and its set of beloved characters, from Lassie to Casper and hundreds more. This year, DWA not only set up a television division, headed by ex-Nickelodeon exec Marjorie Cohn, but also made a groundbreaking deal with Netflix—the studio will provide the OTT service with 300 hours of first-run original content. DWA also recently acquired AwesomenessTV, one of the most popular teen networks on YouTube. As part of the deal, Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV’s founder and CEO, will help develop a DWAbranded digital family channel. Katzenberg tells TV Kids how his studio is finding countless opportunities for quality content.

TV KIDS: What has been the strategy as DWA shifts toward being a multiplatform media company as opposed to being a studio that releases a few films a year? KATZENBERG: We made the decision close to three years ago for a number of reasons that were specific to that moment in time. At the time, we had arrived at “brandhood.” For many of us who met and worked together at Disney in the ’80s, one of the things we recognized is how powerful a brand can be and how it actually creates opportunities to repurpose your company and your IP into many different facets of media and entertainment. Three years ago, we were at a threshold: we either had to become part of a big company that had all of these verticals, or we had to do it ourselves.We went through that dance and got to the point when there really wasn’t a marriage that made sense for us. That was the point at which we said, OK, if we are not going to do it inside of a larger enterprise then we have to do

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION’S

Jeffrey Katzenberg

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Taking flight: How to Train Your Dragon has been adapted into a hit series, Dragons: Riders of Berk, which DWA has licensed worldwide.

it ourselves. That is when we made the decision to go from two movies a year to three movies a year, [and] to make sure that at least one movie every year has a very big consumerproducts opportunity around it so that it has strong ancillary rights inherent in the property itself, not just something that we think about after the fact. We had never [done that] before. We went out to build a consumer-product business. We recruited Michael Francis [as chief global brand officer]. He’s a global branding expert, maybe one of the best in the world.We realized that we were going to have to build our library out in order to be able to expand into these other areas, and we were going to need more than just the IP of our movies. That’s how the acquisition of Classic Media came about. That has sent us out into the theme-park business, the DreamWorks Experiences and the cruise-ship business. All of these things, of which there are more coming, have come out of that decision made a number of years ago that we really should get greater value out of the brands that we created, and we should diversify the number of platforms that we are in. TV KIDS: So Classic Media gives DWA brands and characters

that can be exploited in different ways. KATZENBERG: Here is the analogy I’ll make—it’s proba-

bly an ambitious analogy, but OK, guilty. I think Classic Media will be as meaningful and valuable to DreamWorks Animation as the Marvel library was to Ike Perlmutter when he bought it 15 years ago. There are things that are analogous about it because when he bought that library everybody thought, well, those properties have been exploited; they’re dated and they’re well-recognized, but is 362 World Screen 10/13

anybody going to care about Iron Man or Thor or the Avengers? And the fact is that they have done a brilliant job of reinventing those classic characters for the 21st century. I think we have the same opportunity to take these incredible characters that exist inside the Classic Media library— Lassie has been around since the 1950s—and reinvent them, and bring these classics into the 21st century. Lassie is a classic and I can say that about everything [in the library,] from George of the Jungle to Casper the Friendly Ghost to Where’s Waldo?—it’s an endless list. TV KIDS: Tell us about the Netflix deal. KATZENBERG: We had been out looking at a number of

linear opportunities for the last 12 or 18 months.There were, and continue to be, some opportunities for us, but they all have very high hurdle rates to achieving what we were setting out to do, everything from having to re-brand, to distribution agreements, to leverage in the MSO marketplace. With each of the partners that we had talked to, and we talked with the large cable content companies as well as some indie linear channels, it just felt as though our timing for this was not quite right. At the same time, we had acquired the Classic Media library, which was clearly a very big separator for us in terms of both the library itself, 6,100 episodes, and more importantly the IP—450 really well-known and well-recognized brands. It’s actually incredible how much IP resides in Classic Media. These things came together at the same point that we had actually made a deal with Netflix for a TV series based on the film Turbo.We had already started working with


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one another in a very collaborative way. They were amazing to work with, very unique, and I think they were likewise impressed with the leadership and the creative talent here. The thing that was ultimately the most compelling was just how passionate everybody here was to do something great. The ambition showed was very, very high and I think that that impressed the Netflix people. All these things started coming together and led to a great moment in time when they made the decision to re-evaluate the content deals that they were making. They saw how powerful kids’ content was and they wanted original content and they wanted a brand. The answer to all of those questions was us.

Wild times: Classic Media’s ownership of properties like George of the Jungle prompted DWA’s interest in the company.

TV KIDS: Children are watching a whole lot more on demand these days. KATZENBERG: When you talk to the leadership at Netflix, they will tell you that kids’ content has become one of the single most important drivers of subscriptions for them. Parents love it. It’s safe content and it’s a tremendous value proposition. It’s, “I can do this for my kids and, on top of everything else, for only $8 a month I also get to watch the movies I want to watch.” Kids’ programming became a very big driver for them, so I think for Netflix this was also an offensive play. They should go deep into what is clearly starting to show more and more value for them in their business.

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TV KIDS: As DWA increases its production of television series, what challenges on one side and opportunities on the other do you see in the children’s and family television space? KATZENBERG: It’s a time of great opportunity because there are more and more ways to reach our audience globally.There are new value propositions being offered that are in many ways becoming more compelling. Many of the traditional platforms that exist for kids today, some of the more dominant factors in that marketplace, are unlikely to be so tomorrow. That is what is fantastic about what is going on, and that is where AwesomenessTV comes in because it is an incredibly amazing new platform and new type of opportunity that is unlike any of the things that anyone is doing right now, including Netflix. I’ve never been more bullish, to be honest with you. I think there are more ways for us to connect with our audience, and the thing that always has been, and continues to be, the most valued is great characters and great content. That is the bull’s eye right now and that is what we know how to do—create great characters and build great stories around them. The fact that stories today can be in all different forms is great. It’s disruptive to the existing stakeholders. Really, that is what we are talking about. Three years ago I felt we had to join them to succeed. Today I actually feel the opposite of that. I feel that today there is greater opportunity to succeed, and to disrupt and create value out of that disruption, by being independent, by being unattached.


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Nickelodeon made headlines in late 2011 when its ratings started to slip. This was quite an anomaly for the first children’s channel to launch in the U.S. For more than 30 years, Nick had been a leading destination for young viewers, offering them hit live-action and animated fare. Millions of children through the years turned to Nick for their favorite shows from Rugrats and All That to Drake & Josh, The Fairly Oddparents, iCarly, and of course, one of the most successful animated series of all time, SpongeBob SquarePants. The ratings decline spurred aggressive new development, and the efforts have paid off—in ratings and advertising revenues. In fact, Nick’s comeback in the last six months contributed to parent company Viacom’s positive financial results. Cyma Zarghami, the president of the Nickelodeon Group, talks about scouting for talent and ideas and serving Nick’s new generation of viewers.

TV KIDS: There has been a considerable amount of good news coming from Nickelodeon lately. What has fueled this recent success? ZARGHAMI: Our research showed that there has been a real turnover in the kids’ audience. There is a new generation of kids coming up.The first 30 years of Nickelodeon were spent focusing on the Millennials. Now the next generation is emerging. They are 8- to 9-year-olds that we are calling, for the time being, the post-Millennials.We’ve spent a lot of time studying what’s different about them from the prior generation and trying to develop the right content that will make them laugh the way the early Nickelodeon content made the first generation laugh. So we’ve added a lot of content over the last six to nine months, both animated and great liveaction shows, including Sam & Cat from Dan Schneider and The Haunted Hathaways and Sanjay and Craig. We recently added Rabbids Invasion from Ubisoft to the schedule.We have some ways to go but we’ve come a long way and we are very excited by our current momentum. TV KIDS: Post-Millennials have a different media world in

front of them compared to the first generation that watched Nickelodeon. How are you satisfying their needs on screens beyond the TV set? ZARGHAMI: This new generation of kids is born into this world with all the devices that currently exist, so they aren’t discovering the devices, they are going to discover the content that is on those devices. We are making sure that we are developing content that has game play for the game apps and additional content that can live on our branded Nickelodeon app, as well as great content that they are going to tune in to on the linear channel as well. TV KIDS: Is today’s audience significantly different from the

first generation of Nick viewers, in terms of their tastes and what they want to watch? ZARGHAMI: What kids in this generation find funny and what their lives are like is very different from kids 30 years ago. Back then it was tough to be a kid in a grown-up world. Right now you can say it’s tough to get away from your parents because they love you so much! They’re not as interested in Hollywood glitz and glamour as the last generation was. They like good, clean fun; they’re not cynical in any way. In many ways because the world has changed so much, they live more in a bubble than any generation before them. They are

very protected, so they will stay very close to home, and they are devoted to their families in a way that we haven’t seen before.Who knows what kind of adults they’ll be, but they are lovely children! TV KIDS: How is Nickelodeon scouting for talent, whether

it’s live action or animation or shorts? ZARGHAMI: [Having] more is obviously the first criterion: we

need more ideas, more people, we need more sources of content. We have set out on a path to generate development in multiple parts of the company. Digital is one place, animation is another place, live action is another place, international is another place and great partnerships is another place. We’re bringing content into the house from many places. The second thing we are doing is making sure we find people who have stories to tell that are going to be relevant to this generation.The people who are going to tell the stories that the post-Millennials relate to are going to be the first wave of the Millennials. People who are in their early 30s and grew up on Nickelodeon want to tell their version of stories for the new Nickelodeon audience. To see kids who are saying, “I grew up on Hey Arnold, but here is my show,” or “I grew up on Rugrats and here is my idea.” That is very exciting to watch. TV KIDS: Nickelodeon recently had an animated short

film contest. ZARGHAMI: It’s less of a contest and more of an animation

shorts program. The idea is to submit your ideas to be eligible to make a two-minute short from our animation group. We took something like 600 pitches in the first year, then 900 pitches this year and expanded it to include an international program. They narrowed it down so they have produced 12 2-minute shorts. And in the process of narrowing it down, they find things along the way that they put into long-form development. Now that we have the Nickelodeon branded app we can find a home for the shorts even if we don’t develop them further into television. We have original content populating all the screens at the moment; it’s great. TV KIDS: Do the various international channels all speak to

each other when shows are in development? ZARGHAMI: They do all speak to each other. We have a development executive connected to somebody in all the markets at all times. A lot of the content comes in through the international door first.We’ve had some great successes in a couple of markets for certain genres. In programming one size doesn’t always fit all. One size seems to fit all when shows are going out of the U.S. One size does not fit all when they are coming in to the U.S.We are very attuned to that and we are trying to make sure that we are seeing all the best stuff.The animation team just did an animation program for the international market as well. So we are going to try to make sure that we get contenders from there. We just did a great SpongeBob event where we asked people to send in short films. One of the finalists came from Germany and the winner was from South Africa. TV KIDS: What caused the drop in Nickelodeon’s ratings? ZARGHAMI: It’s not a very complicated story. 2011 was an all-

time high for Nickelodeon in terms of ratings, performance 10/13 World Screen 367

By Anna Carugati


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Swinging by: Part of a host of new shows out of Nickelodeon’s animation studios this year, Sanjay and Craig has been a tremendous hit for the channel.

and business development and that’s just about when the audience shift began to happen.You could add together the fragmentation of the audience, the increase in competition, the aging out of some of our properties, and the fact that the iPad became a household device. All those factors together probably contributed to our drop, but most important was this idea that we had to figure out how to be super funny for this new generation of kids. Once we get that right, we’ll be all set. TV KIDS: Could you give some examples of how a property lives on multiple platforms nowadays? ZARGHAMI: The windowing strategy has changed. In the early days it was broadcast, syndication, cable and then local. Now the windows are linear, Hulu, SVOD, diginets and then Amazon. And downloadto-own is a big choice for kids. The distribution sequence has shifted a little bit. Kids aren’t moving to mobile viewership as quickly as adults, but they will definitely go there. Theirs is more of an on-demand viewing pattern, which is, “I want what I want when I want it, so somebody go find it for me because I don’t know how the television actually works!” So we just have to manage how the audience moves from one screen to the next without flooding every screen, because there are measurement issues. We have to be able to measure where they’re going and how they are going and at the moment we can’t measure viewership on all screens as accurately as we’d like. We need to run our business while we serve our audience, so it’s a balance. TV KIDS: The Amazon deal was an important one.What does Amazon

offer that another platform does not? ZARGHAMI: Amazon is exciting to us for a couple of reasons. One, they are in growth mode, so as they grow we will be able to grow with them. They like the idea that the branded environment is valuable to the consumer. And the deal we have with Amazon is mostly library product, so for people who want to find something specific, they can go there and find it. For people who want the new episodes, there is another place to find that. For people who want to watch it in real time, there is a place for that. And for people who want to watch it in the next three days, there is a place for that. We are just trying to manage the flow.


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Ben By Mansha Daswani

Drawing inspiration from an eclectic mix of classic American sitcoms, Japanese anime, Star Wars and more, Ben Bocquelet created The Amazing World of Gumball. The first series to come out of Cartoon Network’s European development studio in London, the show’s combination of 3D CGI animated characters and photo-realistic backgrounds with zany action and multilayered, pop-culture-infused comedy dialogue has found legions of fans across the globe—as well as critical acclaim. Heading into season three, The Amazing World of Gumball, focused on the Watterson clan and the students and staff at Elmore Junior High, has picked up an International Emmy Kids Award, multiple BAFTAs and other accolades. Bocquelet shares with TV Kids some insight into where the 12-year-old blue cat named Gumball Watterson and his friends and family came from, and where he wants to take them.

&

TV KIDS: What was the inspiration for Gumball? BOCQUELET: The show was created in about 2007 when

I was working as a development artist for Cartoon Network, which had opened a development studio in London. The plan at the time was for me to help other people develop their own shows. Then time came for me to propose an idea. I had worked in commercials for about three years, which was not very successful [laughs], so I had a vast quantity of unused characters in my drawers. I pulled those out and put them together and thought it was an interesting look. I started developing a concept around them, and that was how Gumball was born. 370 World Screen 10/13

TV KIDS: I read that it had initially been envisioned as a show

for Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s block for young adults. BOCQUELET: I was hoping Adult Swim might be interested in some of my work. I had proposed something a little more grown-up. It was about a remedial school for cartoon characters. All these characters that had been rejected had to learn how to be good cartoons. I thought it could be really funny. But the general concept was deemed a little too adult and a little sarcastic and potentially sad and bitter [laughs], so I had to revise it. At the time [Cartoon Network was] heavily into family shows and school shows—almost in jest I offered to combine the two and give them exactly what they wanted. I wanted the characters to replace archetypal sitcom characters; the bully is replaced by a T-Rex, because Tyrannosaurus rex means king of tyrants. I started developing these characters around what kind of role they would have in a classic sitcom. The idea was to start [each episode] like a sitcom and end it as far away as possible from anything remotely realistic. [Laughs] Each episode begins with a little problem, an everyday thing that happens to people, specifically children—so a lot of the stories are based on stuff that might have happened to me as a kid, or to the writers. We turn this into extreme action cartoon madness by the third act. TV KIDS: What are the main challenges you face in combining the CGI animation with different live-action backgrounds for every episode?


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Bocquelet A M A Z I E N G H T

D L R WO

OF

GUMBALL BOCQUELET: At first we didn’t really know where to

start. When you storyboard a show, knowing that you’re going to need to find the live-action backgrounds to fit the shots you’ve drawn can be difficult. In live action you improvise with what you have. On a show like Gumball where everything is composite, it’s hard to plan ahead. At first the idea was to film and take photos of backgrounds in order to save costs and come up with a cool look. This proved to not be malleable enough—we needed to be able to transform the backgrounds. As soon as we started bringing in matte painters, the kind of people who normally work in the VFX [visual effects] industry, it became much easier for us to plan a pipeline. We knew that we could just draw what we wanted and [the matte painters] would be able to accomplish it. We have a very solid layout stage, which is an almost forgotten part of classic animation. This is the part where we bring all the rough elements together, right after the animatics are done, and we can tell whether we will be able to accomplish [the background] technically or not. TV KIDS: How long did it take you to perfect the system? BOCQUELET: Well, it was chaotic, to say the least, for

the whole of the first series. We went into the second series thinking that we were seasoned animation warriors. The second series proved to be quite hard. Our ambition grew with what we discovered and learned over the first season. Now we’re making a third one and I wish

I could promise that it’s going to be easy, but I don’t think it will be! [Laughs] TV KIDS: Heading into your third season, how do you

keep the show funny and engaging for your returning viewers while also bringing in new audiences? BOCQUELET: I’ve learned a lot as a writer and a director over the past two series. This is something I had never done before—I’d never done proper narrative work, I wasn’t a writer. So it was a little bit of a leap; I had to learn as soon as we hit the ground. I learned that we needed to develop the characters and make them enjoyable and relatable, so we tend to inject a lot of personal experiences, personal observations. We like to develop double levels of meaning [in the dialogue]. A kid can watch Gumball and enjoy the antics and the stories and the action and the comedy. We make sure there’s enough slapstick in the show so that it will be accessible for a young audience. And then we inject what we personally love as adults, which is usually a lot of cinema references—we’re big fans of the golden era of the 1980s, the [George] Lucas and [Steven] Spielberg movies. We try and keep the show very heartfelt. We try and develop stories around real problems that you might socially encounter in your everyday life. And we try and keep a positive spin, even though the characters tend to not learn much in terms of the moral of the story! As a kid or as an adult, you appreciate the message—seeing someone fail [at a task] hopefully teaches you to do it better yourself. 10/13 World Screen 371


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Back to school: The first Cartoon Network original series to come out of the U.K., The Amazing World of Gumball is now in its third season.

TV KIDS: How much do your characters evolve from

episode to episode or season to season? BOCQUELET: The idea is to keep it episodic, but we’re also developing the universe of the show—the reason why these characters are the way they are in this environment. We’re starting to develop some mystery episodes where we stepby-step discover the true nature of Elmore [the fictional town in which the series is set], which is a little bit worrying and a little bit exciting. I’ve already written what I would consider to be the key episodes for the show. I don’t know how many seasons we’ll end up having, but the series will feel like a complete work by the time it’s finished. We’re also breaking the rules of what classic kids’ TV should be like and we are changing characters—for example, we have a character called Penny who is Gumball’s love interest. She’s a peanut shell with antlers. We’ll see her break out of [the shell]. I think it will be quite a beautiful, symbolic episode about teenage angst and the way young kids perceive themselves. I love the new direction we’re taking, but we’re still obviously doing classic silly Gumball episodes. There are just more facets to the show now. TV KIDS: When you got the green light, was there added

pressure in knowing this would be the first series out of the London studios? BOCQUELET: I guess I must be a fool because I always assumed it would work out. I don’t worry too much, I just dive in headfirst! But I was scared when it went on air—I was worried that people would just hate the show. TV KIDS: How has it been for you personally to see Gumball

rack up so many awards, and make its way to Cartoon Network feeds around the world? BOCQUELET: This is crazy. When I see Gumball in Japanese—I’m a big fan of Japanese animation—I think, this 372 World Screen 10/13

is great! It’s going out in all these countries and all these little kids are watching it. Sometimes I connect to Twitter and I look at what people are saying about it. It’s very heartwarming. It’s a beautiful experience because we share a lot of ourselves in the show and seeing it perceived well and received well by our peers and the audiences is better than anything we could have imagined. TV KIDS: What are your creative influences? BOCQUELET: They come from everywhere, as you can

probably guess when you see the show. I was heavily influenced by Japanese animation growing up as a child in France—there was a lot of it on TV during the ’80s. I was into [the works of the acclaimed director and animator Hayao] Miyazaki when I was 14; you could find bootlegged videotapes of his films and we would watch them and hallucinate over how good and beautiful they were. I was a big fan of Akira [the 1988 animated cyberpunk film from Japan] when that came out. I snuck into the cinema— it was rated 18-plus and I pretended to go watch Basic Instinct so that I could go see Akira instead! There’s a lot of illustration that influences the look of the show. Storywise, I’m a big fan of Charlie Kaufman, his style of writing, the stuff he’s done with Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. I was a big fan of classic sitcoms. I loved The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Happy Days when I was a kid. [The influences] come from everywhere: music, album covers, everywhere. TV KIDS: How do you think creators like yourself, reared on ’80s pop culture, are changing the kids’ television landscape? BOCQUELET: If the kids are mostly watching Cartoon Network, I think their parents will be really confused as why they know what a VHS player is or what a floppy disk is. [Laughs] I guess they will be into retro technology!


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new show, why don’t we call it Degrassi and have Emma as the star of a new [group] of characters?” I added The Next Generation. That was how we brought it back. TV KIDS: Why do you think it’s had such enduring appeal? STOHN: One aspect to it is that our characters graduate and

we bring in new ones. We’ve been able to tell a lot of stories, in many ways similarly themed but always from a fresh perspective, because there are always new characters going through some of the archetypal stories that teens go through. One of the mottos we have internally is, whatever they are talking about in the school corridors, we should be talking about on the show. It’s pretty dramatic stuff. There’s this innate tension in being a teenager of having one foot in the wonderful naïve world of childhood and another foot in adulthood and going back and forth, even over a 5-minute period. Somehow the stories have engaged the audience and have been authentic to the audience. That’s what we strive to do. TV KIDS: How do you keep up with what kids are dealing with? STOHN: Just as our characters stay with us for a while and then

they graduate and move on, our writers do as well.Also, the writers themselves, prior to brainstorming for a new season, will actually go and sit down in classrooms and meet with students in different grades. The other side is of course social media. The writers, myself, we’re all avidly involved…personally Tweeting, Tumblring, Instagraming, interacting with the fans and watching what they are talking about.

Degrassi ’s Stephen Stohn By Mansha Daswani

TV KIDS: You have a lot of fans that are not in the target 13-

to-17 age range. STOHN: While we are absolutely a teen show, our largest single

demographic is 18-to-34 females. My theory is, it’s a chance to go back and relive some experiences in high school. That’s part of it. The other part is, there are women in their 20s and early 30s thinking, When I have children and they go through that same high school experience, will I understand it? With most youth shows, the axiom is, kids watch up, not down. In the Degrassi case it seems to be, at the very least a guilty pleasure, if not more, to watch down.

When it comes to teen programming, Degrassi has, by all accounts, set the gold standard. The award-winning franchise created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood encompassed three series from the late ’70s through the early ’90s: The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. Ten years later, Epitome Pictures, the production company run by Schuyler and her husband, Stephen Stohn, resurrected the show as Degrassi: The Next Generation. Degrassi, as it’s now known, is in its 13th season. Echo Bridge Entertainment, as international distributor, has licensed Degrassi in more than 150 territories. Stohn, the president of Epitome and an executive producer of the show, shares with TV Kids some insight into making engaging entertainment for teenagers.

We’ve always cast age appropriate. You can have a 28-year-old who looks 16, but, no matter how good of an actor or actress they are, they bring a sensibility of someone in their 20s.There’s a naiveté, as well as a surprising knowledge about the world, in someone who is 16 years old. It’s very hard for a 28-year-old to bring that to the show.

TV KIDS: What prompted the decision to bring Degrassi

TV KIDS: Did you have any inkling in 1979 that Degrassi

TV KIDS: What do you look for in new cast members? STOHN: Vulnerability, number one, and can they take direction?

back in 2001?

would still be on the air more than three decades later?

STOHN: CBC and PBS and some broadcasters internationally

STOHN: Absolutely not! One of the reasons we’ve been able to

had been showing Degrassi in reruns, so it was never really off the air. We would get a lot of, “You should do a reunion.” We were working on another show, more of a teen soap opera, but it was starting to feel a lot like Degrassi, only ten years later.Yan Moore, who had written most of the episodes of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, said, “That little girl that was born to [the character] Spike on Degrassi Junior High, Emma, would be 13 years old now—she’d be going to Degrassi. So instead of developing this

produce the show in the volume that we’ve been able to produce is, back in 1996, Linda and I bought a 100,000 square-foot warehouse and we built four interior studios and a backlot.We’ve since expanded it. We’re able to do almost everything within a 500-foot radius of our office! It keeps the costs down, but also, just being down the hall from the writers and the editors and the actors, it’s amazing how much information can be transmitted by osmosis.

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Lagardère’s

Caroline Cochaux By Mansha Daswani

Back in 1985, in the very early days of French pay TV, CANAL J launched with a slate of imported and local cartoons to a cable base of about 300 homes. Almost three decades later, CANAL J is just one of a portfolio of market-leading kids’ and family channels operated by Lagardère Active. Between CANAL J, TiJi and Gulli, plus the Santa Claus Channel, Lagardère Active is serving kids of all demos across all platforms. Caroline Cochaux, as executive program director for the company’s youth and family channels, is making sure that French children can access the best of what the international market has to offer, as well as locally originated fare that speaks directly to their needs. She shares her content remit with TV Kids.

TV KIDS: The digital terrestrial landscape has become more

crowded across Europe. How is Gulli performing for you in France on DTT? COCHAUX: Gulli is the only kids’ channel in French free DTT. We say our target is ages 4 to 14, but as it is the only channel that can provide programs for children, we reach viewers younger than that. Any kid can watch our programs at any time [without viewing something inappropriate]. There are other channels that may air kids’ programs, but they don’t have this ability to [reach such a broad target]. Gulli is well known among all children in France—when asked what is the French free-TV channel for children, 95 percent will say Gulli immediately. There are still some people who don’t have pay TV, so we can reach almost any child in France. 376 World Screen 10/13

TV KIDS: How do you schedule the channel so you can appeal to different demographics? COCHAUX: We’ve made some programming blocks.The first is the preschool block—we call it Gulli Doo. This block talks to children from 3 to 7. It’s on early in the day, at the right time for young children to watch TV. The second block we have is Code Aventure. It’s a special destination for boys 8 to 12, but we don’t exclude girls. It has the big brands: Power Rangers Megaforce, Beyblade: Shogun Steel, Transformers Prime, Legends of Chima, Max Steel. We started an event last year called Girl Power, and it worked so well that we decided that for this season we would offer our little girls a block with some special programs for them. Inside Girl Power you can find some Barbie [programs], Atomic Betty, Monster High, Littlest Pet Shop and the French co-production Rosie. We have decided this year to put back some animation at lunchtime. This is a major move on our channel. At lunchtime we used to have some programs for the whole family, so that parents could watch TV with their children. We’ve decided that children are watching TV on their own. Another block is called Gulli Good and we say it’s the best-of. It’s a mix of animation and live action. We have Inazuma Eleven, which works very well. We have launched PAC-MAN and Monster Buster Club, which is a French series by Marathon, and we’ve got Victorious, iCarly and Which is Witch? The further you go in the evening, the older our audience becomes. From 6:30 p.m. to


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8:30 p.m. there are games, and there’s live action such as Les Parent, a Canadian program; all those [shows] are especially for teens and families. TV KIDS: What’s the focus on CANAL J? COCHAUX: CANAL J is the oldest channel on pay TV [in

France]. It was created almost 30 years ago. It’s more for boys 8 to 12 with a focus on adventure and humor.We have Xiaolin Chronicles, Grojband, Code Lyoko Evolution, this new superhero series SheZow and OH NO! It’s an Alien Invasion. We have a new program we produced with Genao called CANAL J Battle Dance.We’re doing really, really well with CANAL J. A study put it in the top three best channels for children. TV KIDS: How does TiJi complement your offerings? COCHAUX: TiJi is our preschool channel in pay TV. It is

for children 3 to 6. Most of the time it’s the first channel a child will watch. We are very careful with the editorial lineup. We have to convince parents that it’s the right channel for their children. The parents want to be sure their children are safe in front of the TV. We want them to be educated and entertained, and to have fun. We do a lot of things with [sign language]. We’re trying to make the channel more and more interactive. We have big properties like Polly Pocket, Littlest Pet Shop, Tree Fu Tom and My Little Pony. TV KIDS: Is your ratio of acquired shows to original productions about the same across the three channels? COCHAUX: We don’t calculate it like that. We have production obligations on Gulli—35 percent [must be] French animation series we produce or co-produce. We try when possible to give a premium window to one of our pay channels. For example, if we produce Xiaolin Chronicles, we will put it first on CANAL J one year before free TV. TV KIDS: Co-productions can be tricky.What has your experience been partnering with other companies to get original content for your channels? COCHAUX: We have an editorial team as well as people who advise us. Coproductions are very common for us. We meet each other every week, and we discuss the evolution of the characters and how we can improve the project for our target audience.We do work very well in co-productions. Producers have goodwill toward us. The more innovative and creative ideas they have, the better we are. [The projects] just have to match the age and the needs of our audience. TV KIDS: Disney, Nick and Turner are all pres-

ent in France. What impact are these global brands having on the local kids’ market? 10/13 World Screen 377


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The gang’s all here!: To target girl audiences, Gulli has launched an afternoon block featuring shows like Hasbro Studios’ Littlest Pet Shop.

COCHAUX: They’re all present in pay TV; none are present in

free TV. Sometimes we get some of their programs for Gulli, like Victorious from Nickelodeon. It’s not the same way of consuming programs. The more [players] there are in this industry, the more creativity you get. As the [leaders] of the industry, we are quite happy that there are a lot of projects that can work. I think it’s quite healthy. TV KIDS: What are some of your biggest hits now? COCHAUX: Pokémon [is one]. We have exclusivity on all 18

seasons for Gulli and for CANAL J, which is incredible. We now do a Pokémon marathon in the evenings. People love it. When we do the marathons, we can see that there are a lot of 15- to 34-year-olds that are not usually our target demographic coming to our channel. Inazuma Eleven is a big brand for Gulli. Xiaolin Chronicles for the second season is really big. I don’t know—all our brands are quite [popular]! The fact that we co-produce Xiaolin Chronicles is important for us. We put [our stamp] on it. Our team was very involved in the production, in the stories and in the editorial. If we work week after week on a program, we love it even more. This year on Gulli we will also have some 378 World Screen 10/13

more hosts on the channel. Benjamin Castaldi, who is a very famous host from TF1, will join us this year and make the animation for an incredible game that happens to be set in Tahiti. It’s a family quest. When there’s something happening for children, Gulli, CANAL J or TiJi must be there! TV KIDS: What kinds of content are you looking for? COCHAUX: We’re looking for major brands. We’re open. We

want producers to give us proposals.We want brands that have been famous already from books, movies, comics, anything. We want the producers to go for it. With any big brands, we’ll be here to listen. TV KIDS: What’s your preferred pitch route? COCHAUX: All the ways are good! I have on my team

Emmanuelle Baril, head of co-productions, and Caroline Mestik, head of broadcast. With our team, we read all the projects and we choose those that would fit with our editorial lineup. My goal, and that of Gérald-Brice Viret, Gulli’s CEO, is to [position] Gulli as the ultimate TV point of reference for children. We are looking for big brands.


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9Story’s VinceCommisso By Mansha Daswani

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More than a decade ago, Vince Commisso co-founded 9 Story Entertainment as a high-quality animation producer. Today, the company that Commisso leads as president and CEO has produced more than 800 half-hours of kids’ content out of its Toronto facilities. The firm has been expanding its business, taking on thirdparty properties, including the entire CCI Entertainment kids’ catalogue. Commisso shares with TV Kids his plans for building his business while remaining focused on top-quality animation.

TV KIDS: What led to the acquisition of CCI’s kids’ catalogue? COMMISSO: CCI was looking to shift their business away from

distribution to focus more on production and working with creators. Our primary focus has been production, but we’ve been looking to do more on the distribution side.We thought the fit was really strong, not only with respect to the quality and diversity of their product, but we really liked them, their management style, and their overall approach to production matched ours. We have an ongoing first look on their new [content]. There’s a great philosophical fit between the two companies. TV KIDS: What do you look for in properties you want to bring to the 9 Story slate? COMMISSO: We’re always looking to grow our library.We’re at 1,500 half-hours now. The CCI acquisition more than doubled the size of our catalogue. We look for complementary product, produced by people we think approach the shows in the right way, and that won’t cannibalize our shows. Our sweet spot tends to be animated comedy for 6- to 11-year-olds. TV KIDS: With this broadened catalogue, what kinds of

opportunities are you pursuing with new-media platforms? COMMISSO: Digital platforms offer two opportunities, really. The first being first-run SVOD opportunities, like our recent exclusive SVOD sale for our prime-time animated show Fugget About It to Hulu.That broadens your buying base—now Hulu and Amazon look to acquire first-run product, much like the traditional broadcasters do. [The second opportunity is with online] players in every territory that still buy product in bulk. Usually you have to go to a content aggregator to say, please make my [content] available to the SVOD players.That was true when we had 600 half-hours. It’s not true at all when we have 1,500 half-hours. TV KIDS: As an independent, how do you navigate the com-

plexities of financing and distributing kids’ programming? COMMISSO: Sometimes you get so wrapped up in how you dis-

tribute and what rights are available and how it’s going to live in licensing and merchandising that you forget about the product. While the world gets more complicated, we as the producers of the product are obligated to make it a little simpler.We are offering a piece of entertainment audiovisual content—let’s make it the highest quality piece of entertainment that we can, and let everything else take care of itself.That doesn’t mean we ignore the other business realities, but your starting point has to be a great piece of IP that you think you can produce into great content.We find that when we start that way, the financing takes care of itself. There are a lot of weird and wonderful and as-creative-as-youcan-imagine financing models out there.We’ve availed ourselves of many of them! But they are not even subject to discussion unless people want to put money in, invest in, think there’s an

audience for, [that content]. Sources of financing will change. But, if you always make a great product, you’ll be fine in the long run. TV KIDS: What are the growth opportunities for 9 Story? COMMISSO: There are three organic growth opportunities:

one is consumer products. We now have it in-house; along with the acquisition of the CCI library came some of the CCI personnel, [including] a licensing and merchandising team. We’re going to be working across our original programming, as well as some of the CCI properties. Two is digital distribution in regards to [platforms’] first-run acquisition of new product and not going through the content aggregators. The third is the Monster Factory [a Canadian toy manufacturer]. We bought into the company in 2011. We’ve been actively managing it over the last year and a half. Within the next six months you’ll hear about several events, including some terrific key partnerships in regard to the brand going forward. We are still looking for some strategic acquisitions and we’re very close to securing capital to help us do that.The purpose is to acquire third-party content, both in terms of individual shows and full-scale libraries, or other businesses that have synergies with our own.That was the idea behind purchasing into Monster Factory.We’re looking for other opportunities like that. TV KIDS: What are the new properties you’re focusing on? COMMISSO: We’re bringing demos for two new shows: Sonny

& Sky, an adorable preschool series, and The 3 Amigonauts. We’ll also be showcasing some newly acquired shows. We’re doing a show called Monkey See, Monkey Do and one with a Brazilian producer called Haunted Tales for Wicked Kids.We also have new episodes of Peg + Cat, Guess How Much I Love You? [and] Teenage Fairytale Dropouts.We’re also really excited about Numb Chucks and are bringing a full episode [to MIPCOM] to screen for the first time. 10/13 World Screen 381

Fight club: 9 Story is presenting a full episode of its new comedic series Numb Chucks at MIPCOM.


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CHANNEL PROFILE PROGRAMMING: ABC3 is run by

Australia’s public broadcaster ABC. About 65 percent of the channel’s grid is acquired. “ABC3 offers the school-age audience a broad range of genres,” says Barbara Uecker, the head of programTARGET AUDIENCE: Kids up to 15. ming and acquisitions for children’s REACH: 98 percent of Australian homes. television at ABC. “The morning starts with Studio 3, a popular hosted block RANKING: Market leader in its target demographic. consisting mainly of animation; the later SENIOR PROGRAMMING EXECUTIVES: morning features news and current Barbara Uecker, Head, Programming & Acquisitions affairs, documentaries and factual enterChris Rose, Commissioning Editor, Animation tainment. The afternoon has a focus on comedy, wildlife and animation for the Simon Hopkinson, Commissioning Editor, Live Action younger end of the audience. The early WEBSITE: www.abc.net.au/abc3 evening features drama, reality and action adventure, and the schedule closes with programs for the upper end of the channel’s audience. commissions often involve international co-financing partners such as ZDF, ZDF Enterprises, CBBC and major interThe schedule is 50 percent Australian.” Recent acquisitions have included Officially Amazing from national distributors.” Zodiak, Camp Lakebottom from 9 Story and Grojband from WISH LIST: “Currently we are particularly looking for shows FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment. Its slate of origthat will appeal to the upper end of the target audience—10inals, meanwhile, includes Dance Academy, now in its third season, plus,” Uecker says.“This audience responds well to dramas, such the science game show Steam Punks! and the comedy Splatalot. as Dance Academy, animation such as the Total Drama series and CO-PRODUCTION STRATEGY: “Most of our animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars and shows like Deadly 60 and Horcommissions involve co-production partners, and broadcast- rible Histories. And, of course, comedy is always high on our ers from Canada, Asia and Europe,” Uecker says. “Our drama shopping list.”

ABC3

Wheels in motion: ABC3’s portfolio of Australian originals includes Steam Punks!, sold worldwide by Beyond Distribution.

TRENDS: “As a public broadcaster,

ABC Children’s TV seeks to make our programming available without charge to our audience on the screen of their choice, including delivery by apps to mobile devices and offering a comprehensive online service with games and interactive content,” Uecker says. “We see increasing competition on digital channels in Australia and growing use of social media and gaming.” LICENSE FEES: “ABC’s license fees for acquired content have remained stable for the past five years. However, we see budgets increasing for production of live-action shows of all types, particularly drama.” DISTRIBUTION: “Our drama and

animation commissions are always financed in partnership with an international distributor. The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) distributes a growing catalogue of our commissioned shows, while ABC Commercial distributes most of our internally produced content as well as investing in the distribution rights to a range of commissioned content.” 382 World Screen 10/13


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CHANNEL PROFILE PROGRAMMING: The BBC’s dedicated channel for British preschoolers features a fifty-fifty split between original productions and acquired fare. Recent commissions include Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, from the BBC’s own Natural History TARGET AUDIENCE: Preschool children aged 2 to 6. Unit. Other highlights include the pirate REACH: The digital channel is available in just over 48 percent adventure game show Swashbuckle, of British homes. “which has really connected with our young audience and has been commisRANKING: Leading preschool channel in the U.K. sioned for a second series,” says Kay SENIOR PROGRAMMING EXECUTIVES: Benbow, CBeebies’ controller. “Old Jack’s Joe Godwin, Director, BBC Children’s Boat has been a wonderful vehicle to Kay Benbow, Controller, CBeebies engage kids in storytelling and will also Michael Towner, Executive Producer, CBeebies Independents be back next year alongside factual family Alison Stewart, Head, CBeebies Production, Animation history series My Story.” Recent acquisitions, meanwhile, include Peter Rabbit, Sarah & Acquisitions & Duck and the brand-new Q Pootle 5.” WEBSITE: www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies “The schedule follows the pattern of a preschooler’s day, from getting ready in the morning, with shorter animated programs, to our Discover & Do CO-PRODUCTION STRATEGY: “Many of our core titles on section of the schedule, which includes our Love to Learn block CBeebies are co-productions such as Tree Fu Tom, which is a copro with FremantleMedia [Kids & Family Entertainment] and teaching preschoolers basic literacy and numeracy,” Benbow ZingZillas, which was co-produced with BBC Worldwide.” says. “We then specially select programs for lunchtime, understanding children might be having a wind-down, including a WISH LIST: “CBeebies offers a rich mix of genres from story. Later in the day the schedule is designed for the older end entertainment to drama, comedy and factual,” Benbow of our audience returning from school, aged from 4 to 6, featuring more complex storytelling and themes. Then we says. “Programs must be produced specifically at a pace conclude with the Bedtime Hour, which is intended to set and style that will suit our young audience and we are lookthe tone for sleep and rest in the early evening, again fea- ing for ideas that transcend platforms. Currently comedy, music and content for the younger end of our audience (2 to turing a bedtime story.” 3) are all high on the agenda. We’re also very keen to see more female faces on the channel.”

CBeebies

Back in time: The new CBeebies commission Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures is represented by BBC Worldwide.

TRENDS: “CBeebies’ point of distinction in the U.K. market is its British liveaction content, coupled with the very best of U.K. and international animation. The move of even our youngest audience to mobile devices and away from linear TV viewing is our biggest challenge and to address that we launched our first CBeebies mobile app this August.” LICENSE FEES: “Our budgets and the

license fees we pay are broadly stable year on year. Like all public bodies, we have a bit less money overall but are looking to find that through operational efficiencies rather than take it off screen.” DISTRIBUTION: “The BBC’s commer-

cial arm, BBC Worldwide, has first look at our projects and is a major partner for CBeebies.They invest in many of our coproductions, in-house productions and acquisitions and through their family of international CBeebies channels. We also work closely with many other distributors such as DHX and FremantleMedia.” 384 World Screen 10/13


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