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Selling to the U.S.
Hasbro Studios’ Stephen Davis www.tvkids.ws
THE MAGAZINE OF CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING
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BRB Internacional www.brb.es • • • • •
IN THIS ISSUE Coming to America Buyers from leading U.S. kids’ channels share what’s on their shopping lists 10
Interview Hasbro Studios’ Stephen Davis
Kambu Zoobabu Canimals Khuda-Yana Mica
This year marks the 40th birthday of BRB Internacional. “And we want especially to celebrate it with the Latin American audience!” says Emilie Pasquet, a sales executive at the Madrid-based outfit. As part of the celebration, BRB is kicking off the year at NATPE by presenting six brand-new shows for the market: Kambu, Zoobabu, Canimals, Khuda-Yana, Bernard and Mica.“Bernard is [already] very well known in Latin America,” Pasquet says.
“We’ll be at NATPE with our complete catalogue, looking to strengthen the great relationships we already have in Latin America.
Ricardo Seguin Guise
Publisher Anna Carugati
Editor Mansha Daswani
FremantleMedia Enterprises www.fmekids.com
Executive Editor Kristin Brzoznowski
Managing Editor Simon Weaver
Online Director Phyllis Q. Busell
• Max Steel • My Babysitter’s a Vampire • The Aquabats Super Show! • Monsuno • Tree Fu Tom
Art Director Cesar Suero
Sales & Marketing Director Terry Acunzo
Business Affairs Manager Vanessa Brand
Sales & Marketing Assistant Marissa Graziadio
In just a short time, FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) has built up a strong children’s slate. “The kids’ and family-entertainment slate is extremely diverse, and the titles we are bringing to NATPE have mass appeal on every level,” says Andrew Berman, FME’sVP of international distribution for children’s programming and family entertainment. Key titles are The Aquabats Super Show!, Max Steel, My Babysitter’s a Vampire,Tree Fu Tom and Monsuno.
“We offer groundbreaking, high-quality, original and innovative content which will resonate with and entertain kids worldwide.
Mondo TV Spain Ricardo Seguin Guise
President Anna Carugati
Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani
Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Kids © 2012 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website:
www.mondotvspain.es • Virus Attack • Puppy in My Pocket • Dinofroz • Playtime Buddies • Gormiti
There’s a mix of action, comedy and more on the slate for Mondo TV Spain. In addition to Virus Attack, Mondo is highlighting the animated series Puppy in My Pocket, based on the line of toys. There’s also Dinofroz, Playtime Buddies andGormiti. “I am confident about getting these series placed on pan-regional broadcasters after NATPE,” says Maria Bonaria Fois, the general manager of Mondo TV Spain. 48
Puppy in My Pocket
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Sweatbox www.sweatbox.es Nightbreeds
Spain’s Sweatbox, which specializes in 2D and 3D animation, was behind the TV movie Talma and the Myth of Agharta, launched in 2008. Now, CEO Darío Durán is looking to get the word out that Sweatbox is in production on a new project, Nightbreeds, and has its first episode ready to present. The 26x30-minute animated series, targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds, tells the story of a fight between two rival vampire clans and the Alliance, a force for freedom.The series is set in the year 2050 in Port Providence, a city where humans and vampires live together. Each episode tells the adventures of three unusual heroes in the Alliance: Zack, Rosalyn and little Lizbeth.Together, they will ruin the plans of Thelonious, the mastermind of evil, who is helped by his soldier slaves.
“We hope to get the most out of international presales or secure a collaboration with a broadcaster or producer for financing.” —Darío Durán
Toon Goggles www.toongoggles.com
A kid-focused and parent-friendly website, ToonGoggles.com aggregates animated children’s shows from around the world. For consumers, the site provides a destination where kids ages 4 to 12 and their parents and caregivers can screen clips, trailers, episodes and features in a safe environment. All the programs are available to be watched free of charge. For content providers, ToonGoggles.com offers analytic data to help them prove interest for their animation that will assist them in deal-making. The overall goal of the site is to provide a global entertainment platform for the hundreds of professionally produced cartoon series that are created each year, but are unable to fit in with network TV time constraints.
Zodiak Kids www.zodiakkids.com Tickety Toc
• Tickety Toc • Redakai: Conquer the Kairu • The Basketeers • Waybuloo
Cartoon Network Latin America recently scooped up the adventure series Redakai: Conquer the Kairu in a deal with Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media. Cécile Cau, sales manager at Zodiak Kids, says a key focus for NATPE is to “strengthen and increase our relationships with pan-regional broadcasters as well as achieving a richer understanding of free-to-air TV channels’ current needs and expectations in Latin America and Brazil.” The company is placing its bets on the slapstickdriven Tickety Toc; The Basketeers, which features an animated version of basketball superstar Tony Parker; and Waybuloo.
“Our shows stand out by having as much editorial strength as commercial strength.” 50
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America While many U.S. kids’ channels rely heavily on original programming, buyers and programmers are looking to acquisitions as a great way to complement homegrown shows.
By Kristin Brzoznowski
he U.S. networks are among the most coveted by distributors of children’s content. This is in part because scoring a slot Stateside can mean raising the profile of a property tremendously, in addition to a slew of other benefits that boost the distributor’s track record on a global scale. However, it is no easy feat to accomplish. While the U.S. is certainly among the most alluring markets for placing shows, it is also one of the toughest to crack. The “big three”—Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network—all produce a fair amount of original programming. These shows are developed by the channels with a particular tone and target in mind, helping to ensure that the final product is one that’s in line with the overall mission of their brands. Third-party titles with the same core values are then cherry-picked to fill the remaining parts of the schedule. “Our Nickelodeon channels are comprised primarily of our originally produced programming that we complement and enhance with global, regional and local acquisitions across our key genres and demos,” says Jules Borkent, the seniorVP of global acquisitions and international programming at Nickelodeon. “At Cartoon Network we have a really healthy balance between original content and third-party content,” notes Adina Pitt, theVP of content acquisitions and co-productions at Cartoon Network and Boomerang. “It ebbs and flows; at any given time we might put on some of our library shows or we may be stunting new series. The goal of the acquisitions is to complement all of the original content and I think we’ve been very successful in doing that.” “At Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior [one of the greatest factors considered when making buying decisions is], will the acquisition fit along with our original series, which have been developed with Disney’s DNA, and ultimately fit our brand,” Paul DeBenedittis, the senior VP of programming strategy, multiplatform, acquisitions and co-productions for Disney Channels Worldwide, says.
ZDF Enterprises’ Fun with Claude
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Off and running: Cyber Group Studios’ Manon is among the series airing on the Vme Niños preschool block.
The flagship Disney Channel satisfies its schedule with mostly original content, “but we are always looking to complement our originals with acquisitions or co-productions,” DeBenedittis notes. “At Disney XD we have an increased appetite for acquisitions, and with the 2012 launch of Disney Junior we are always open to unique ideas that capture the heart of the brand.” WELL BALANCED
Each of the three channels has a different target audience and this provides ample opportunities for distributors shopping shows ranging from preschool to tween. “At Disney Channel our target is kids first, with co-viewership opportunities among families, while at Disney XD we’re targeting boys 6 to 14, though our series must be girl-inclusive,” DeBenedittis says. “At Disney Junior our target is 2 to 7.” At Nickelodeon, the flagship channel skews evenly between girl and boy demos, “so we look for content that all kids will enjoy and that will enhance our original programming lineup,” explains Borkent.“Of course, for some of our other channels, such as Nicktoons, which skews more toward boys, and TeenNick, which skews toward girls, we’ll look for content that is targeted a bit more toward those demos.” When selecting acquisitions, Borkent says he takes into account the number of episodes committed and available for a series, also keeping an eye out for “unique content and concepts that have broad appeal, and we like to find those opportunities where we can sign on early and partner on the creative process.” Nickelodeon partnered with Rainbow S.r.l. to co-develop and co-produce seasons five and six of Winx Club, a prop1/12
erty popular with young girls around the world. “We acquired seasons one through four from Rainbow to introduce the series to our audience and presented seasons one and two as four hour-long animated specials. We are in the process of rolling out episodes from seasons three and four. We are excited about this property; the specials have performed well globally.” Borkent says he’s also looking forward to the global launch of Tickety Toc, a new preschool show from Zodiak Kids debuting early this year. For 2013, Nickelodeon recently picked up the CGI animated series Raving Rabbids, based on the hit video-game franchise, for global broadcast outside of France. In terms of past acquisitions, Borkent points to Entertainment One’s Peppa Pig and Power Rangers Samurai from MarVista Entertainment as top performers. “We originally acquired Peppa Pig for Nick Jr. in the U.K. and extended distribution to Nick Jr. in the U.S. based on its great appeal and performance.” To sit in the schedule alongside these recent acquisitions and the hefty slate of originals, Borkent says he’s currently looking for animated and live-action comedies. World Screen
Making a splash: Entertainment One’s Peppa Pig was brought to Nick Jr. in the U.S. following a successful U.K. run.
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Even through right now we’re focusing on comedy, we would never say no to a pitch just because it was a genre we hadn’t thought of as a priority.You never know where that next hit show you want is going to come from.” BOYS’ CLUB
Scary good fun: Disney Channel picked up My Babysitter’s a Vampire, produced by Canada’s Fresh TV, from FremantleMedia Enterprises.
This same is true for Disney’s DeBenedittis. “At Disney XD and Disney Channel, we’re always looking to acquire halfhour live-action comedies to complement our original series as well as animated comedy series. We’re also interested in expanding our alternative/reality offering to complement some of the recent additions this past year.” GETTING A GIGGLE
Finding a show that can bring the laughs is also a top priority at Cartoon Network. “Currently our focus has been predominantly on comedy, whether that’s live action or animated, and I don’t see that changing any time soon,” says Pitt.“Comedy repeats well. Kids come to us for comedy, but we don’t like to shut the door on any of the other genres; we are also known for really top quality action and a diversity of animation styles and genres.” Pitt notes that there’s also a good amount of alternative programming on the air, defined by some of the channel’s bigger game shows. “We had Hole in the Wall on the air, Destroy Build Destroy, Dude,What Would Happen; we like mixing the genres up a little bit to really see what our kids like.We have specials and movies, too. 54
Cartoon Network has a precise demo it aims for with its original and third-party programming, says Pitt. “We target 6- to 11year-olds and we definitely skew more boy, but, we like to say, with a nod toward girls. We definitely dominate in the boys’ space, but keep in mind that more boys watch cartoons in general. There’s a certain point where girls start to look for other kinds of shows. It’s not to say that girls aren’t watching cartoons—clearly they’re coming to us—but they’re very selective in the kinds of shows that they’re coming to see on our air.” Pitt says she’s focused on serving the current boy-heavy demographic rather than trying to attract more girls to the channel, since this is the formula that has made Cartoon Network successful. “When we look at the DNA of any show that we’re trying to pick up, we definitely want to make sure that there’s a point of entry for our target demo. We don’t want to alienate the kids who we know are coming to us, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see a show that really tilts the scales.” Pitt adds that there are some exceptions to the rules. “There are certain action shows that are all adrenaline; they’re boyskewed but if you happen to be a girl watching them, terrific! However, you’re not going to see the type of shows that you might associate with some of our competitors, which really tend to skew a little more girl. We know exactly who our audience is and we try to super-serve them.” Opening new doors in the U.S. for the kids’ distributors is the burgeoning Hispanic audience. New channels and programming blocks have popped up to serve this growing slice of the American population and many of them are heavily reliant on acquired product. “Most of our kids’ programming is from acquisitions,” says Doris Vogelmann, the director of programming and operations at Vme Media and Vme Kids. Vogelmann sources programming for Vme’s daily preschool block, Vme Niños, and for the 24-hour cable channel Vme Kids. The programming for both is primarily aimed at kids 2 to 6 as well as their co-viewing parents and caregivers, who are mostly between the ages of 18 to 34. “For the kids’ programming on Vme and on the Vme Kids channel we look for high-quality acquisitions that have wellconstructed stories, relatable characters and solid learning objectives that fit with U.S. educational standards,” says Vogelmann. Vme is home to a host of beloved children’s characters, including Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Barney 1/12
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mote learning through active play. We look for shows that promote interaction and encourage parents and caregivers to be involved in the child’s viewing experience.” CBeebies divides its day into blocks that suit the mood and energy levels of young children. For its morning block, programming that is more “active, exciting and colorful” is used to start the day, notes Graff. The discovery-focused segment features shows that encourage children to explore, learn, do and create. A playtime block accommodates a variety of entertainment shows for kids and their families, followed by a bedtime block that has softer, gentler programming to prepare children for sleep. Eyes on the prize: Zodiak Kids’ Waybuloo was produced for the BBC, which feeds the U.S. Spanish-language CBeebies channel.
and Angelina Ballerina. The Muppets of Plaza Sésamo, the PLAYFUL EXCHANGE Spanish-language adaption of Sesame Street that was origi- “We look for programming that allows parents to see their nally produced for Latin America, have also struck a chord children develop,” Graff says. “We want high-quality content with the Hispanic youth watching Vme. that engages a wide audience with well-crafted storylines, a “We look for productions from all over the world,”Vogelclear purpose and strong visuals. Our goal is to create a prodmann adds. “Vme is always looking for the next hit shows that uct that parents and educators can trust and that provides empower kids with innovative, entertaining, curriculumchildren with knowledge through fun and interactive experibased content.” ences that help them learn through play, as our slogan states.” Also serving the Hispanic preschool market in the U.S. is Graff says the channel strives to remain competitive with the CBeebies. The channel has access to a catalogue owned by strong players in the U.S. kids’ landscape.“We direct all our efforts one of the largest distributors in the world, BBC Worldwide, and resources toward the positive growth of the CBeebies brand. which accounts for the lion’s share of its schedule. “Our con- We are committed to offering appropriate content that promotes tent comes from the BBC’s catalogue, a great selection of learning through play in a secure environment, and maintaining shows specifically designed for the youngest of viewers, edu- the highest quality standards that have distinguished our brand.” cational, yet entertaining programming with the quality and While original shows can be brand defining, acquired series integrity of the BBC name,” says William Graff, the VP of have proven their value to buyers and programmers in the programming at BBC Worldwide Channels Latin America/ U.S. kids’ market. Distributors looking to shop their wares U.S. Hispanic. “In addition to that, the BBC provides us with Stateside can look forward to these new opportunities openthird-party programs that it has acquired worldwide and that ing up in the children’s market. follow the high-quality standards of the BBC.” One of the latest acquisitions to hit the channel, Baby Jake, is a hybrid of live action and 2D photorealistic animation produced by Darrall Macqueen. Top performing acquisitions overall include 3rd & Bird, Waybuloo and In the Night Garden. “Besides [tapping into] the BBC inventory, we also meet with independent producers of preschool children’s programming at conventions to keep up with industry trends,” Graff says of his content sources. “Combined with what we get from the BBC, this creates a good mix of shows that provide a wide Barking up the right tree: MEG Toys and Mondo TV’s Puppy in My Pocket heads to Boomerang in range of themes and pro- 2012, following a rollout on Turner outlets in EMEA and pan-Asia. 56
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ing extraordinarily well on The Hub, which is our first priority. In the meantime, Finn Arnesen [the senior VP of international distribution and development] has been able to sell our shows in 142 countries and they’re all performing well on all of the major broadcasters, [including] Cartoon Network, Mediaset, YTV and Yoyo TV. We are everywhere kids and families are watching TV, so the strategy is definitely working. TV KIDS: You mention producing shows outside of the U.S.
How do you ensure that your international partners deliver the same high quality that your Burbank studio maintains? DAVIS: We do all of the script development, as well as a majority of the front-end design work on our animated series in the studio in Burbank. We are very hands on with our overseas animation studios, and often we also do the postproduction work in Burbank. We’ve got some very successful game shows on The Hub with Family Game Night, The Game of Life, Scrabble, and we just produced our first overseas format based on Family Game Night for Boing in Spain. [For the international adaptations] we’ll work with producers we hire, but we also have our own producers on the set to ensure that we’re maintaining that quality control, that we’re true to the brand DNA of our shows. TV KIDS: Are you looking to produce broader general-
Stephen Davis By Mansha Daswani
Announcing Hasbro’s most recent set of quarterly results, Brian Goldner, the CEO of the toy giant, emphasized to investors that the entertainment segment was a key growth area for the company. Indeed, its third-quarter financials showed a healthy 69percent bump in entertainment and licensing revenues, including improved intake from the sale of TV programming. Leading the company’s TV-production activities is Stephen Davis as the president of Hasbro Studios. Mining Hasbro’s deep library of brands, which includes Transformers, My Little Pony and The Game of Life, Davis and his team are generating productions for The Hub—a joint venture with Discovery Communications—and then selling those shows to broadcasters around the world. He tells TV Kids about the tremendous growth Hasbro Studios has experienced since its launch two years ago.
TV KIDS: How has Hasbro Studios grown over the last year? DAVIS: We’ve grown substantially. Just in terms of output,
we’re in production now on our 13th series. By 2012, we will have produced 590 half-hours of original production out of our base of operation in Burbank. In addition to the U.S., we’re producing shows in about seven other countries, from China to Japan to Korea to Canada. Our shows are perform58
entertainment game shows, in addition to those focused on kids and families? DAVIS: Our initial focus has been to produce kids and family game shows for The Hub, but we are selling formats of our game shows internationally that are attractive to an older demo. Interestingly, in a lot of the conversations that we’re having with overseas broadcasters, they really want the same thing that The Hub and the other U.S. kids’ networks want in the game arena—co-viewing. Our games lend themselves so well to family play that when we’re formatting a game show for the overseas market, we definitely have the whole family in mind. We now have Kevin Belinkoff, our VP of games and reality, charged with driving a strategy that delivers great game-show formats for not only The Hub but for the international market as well. The Spanish format of Family Game Night for the Boing channel in Spain was a great ratings success—with lots of fun and engagement for a broad audience. TV KIDS: In 2011 you separated your current programming and development operations, and created teams around specific genres, with boys/action and girls/preschool. Why is the new structure important for the future growth of Hasbro Studios? DAVIS: For us it’s all about focus.We want to have the greatest impact we can have, both in storytelling as well as in our toy and game business. When we started the studio two years ago it was really all hands on deck; let’s mobilize the team, get everybody rowing in the same direction and deliver a lot of original production in preparation for The Hub’s launch, which was in October of 2010. Now that we have achieved that successfully, I felt like we needed to begin to concentrate our teams to [each] have a specific focus around genre, around development, around current [programming], and it’s worked really well. Mike Vogel, who runs development, and his team are doing a phenomenal job both on our existing brands as well looking for new opportunities with Linda 1/12
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in the creative process, as opposed to being dictated to. We also find that talent responds to the brands themselves. In most cases our creative partners grew up on those brands—they have a fondness for My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Transformers, among others. It’s fun to be able to extend your creative energy on something you’re so fond of, that you grew up with; that’s attractive. And I think they’ve seen the success we’re having on The Hub and they’re seeing the success we’re having internationally, and that’s a great thing to be a part of. TV KIDS: Given the success you’re
A good pick: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a Hub original series based on a classic Hasbro brand.
Steiner, who runs current [programming]. Linda and her team have upped our game significantly with respect to overseeing our current series. I’m really pleased with the way that focus is working. It’s kept our eye on the prize, which is making great stories, great characters, and reimagining our brands for The Hub and the international markets. TV KIDS: Tell me about the process of mining that huge
portfolio of Hasbro properties. How do you identify things that can be turned into entertainment brands? DAVIS: It’s wonderful because Hasbro has over 1,500 brands, so obviously we have a lot to choose from. We spend a considerable amount of time as a senior leadership team, both within Hasbro and working with Margaret Loesch, who runs The Hub, and her team to really align Hasbro’s brand priorities with The Hub’s programming priorities to reimagine, reinvent and reignite the Hasbro brands for TV. We have some very good, healthy debates about the various brands that’ll break through for television. Having a wealth of brands to choose from, we can actually plan pretty far forward, which is a great position to be in.We can also be very nimble because we own and control a majority of our brands, so we only have ourselves to come to when we want to make changes on the fly as one has to do. We also believe strongly in the voices of our creative stewards, our show runners.We’re pleased that we’ve been able to work with a number of A-list talent in our business. TV KIDS: How have you been attracting that top-level talent to the studio? DAVIS: We’re a pretty easy place to do business. We’re very writer, producer and director friendly and I think that in an increasingly competitive business, talented people respond to working in an environment where they feel like their creative opinions matter. We give them a real opportunity to look at a brand and have an active voice at the table 60
having and now with Mattel’s acquisition of HIT Entertainment, do you think that toy brands in general are going to play a larger role in the global children’s content market? DAVIS: Brands themselves will continue to have a significant impact irrespective of where those brands may come from. We live in an increasingly cluttered and fragmented entertainment market: lots of great ideas, lots of creativity, lots of competition. Everybody is looking for a way to cut through that clutter— they’re looking for self-promoting brands, they’re looking for IP that people can respond to. Ultimately you may respond to a terrific brand but we also have to deliver from a storytelling perspective—I’m not sure everybody understands that. It’s not enough to say you have well-recognized IP; beyond that you have to reignite it in a significant way, create stickiness around the series and create viewer loyalty.That’s the real challenge.
Dog days: The Pound Puppies brand started as a toy line in the ’80s and went on to inspire an animated TV series and feature film. 1/12
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