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Kids Tune in to Canada

]> At a recent meeting in Toronto, License! Global spoke with a

April 6, 2018

11 Min Read

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At a recent meeting in Toronto, License! Global spoke with a range of television companies specializing in children's programming. This round-up highlights some of the new TV programming planned or newly launched, as well as a number of new licensing, merchandising and expanded outreach programs into other countries and categories.

"The main focus for us now is to continue to support the rollout of 'Storm Hawks' into new territories for programming and licensing," says Ken Faier, president of Nerd Corps Entertainment based in Vancouver, B.C. "We recently finished delivery on season two of 'Storm Hawks,' which launched this past fall in several territories and will continue throughout 2009. Cartoon Network U.K. and YTV also launched season two in September 2008."

Faier notes that a number of new licenses are in the works. "In addition to the highly successful toy range from Spin Master Toys, our agent in the U.K., Target Entertainment, is bringing on an ever-increasing number of licenses. The latest deals include Christy's Group as the 'Storm Hawks' dress-up partner, Sony for home entertainment, Topps Europe for trading cards and stickers, Grossman for outdoor toys and Lightbody for celebration cakes," he says. i1_549.jpg

Faier elaborated on the expansion of existing licenses and programming into other countries. Plans are under way in a number of territories, including France, where RMP Licensing has brought on board Hachette for publishing, and Grani et Partners recently launched a sticker book line. Other categories under way in France include apparel, bedding, footwear and back to school. In North America, DMF Comics is in production on a line of graphic novels and comics based on the show, and in Australia, where the toy range launched in the summer, Haven Licensing is managing the rollout of other products. In Germany, where the show launched in September 2008 on RTL 2, the licensing program was launched through M4E. Other launches are being planned for Latin America with Exim Licensing, in Spain with BRB and throughout Asia with Empire Multimedia.

In celebration of "Max & Ruby's" 30th anniversary, Toronto-based Nelvana Enterprises has announced that 12 new episodes of the preschool series are being produced, adding to the current 40 half hours available. Ratings for the show about bunny siblings are at an all-time high both in Canada and the U.S. Home entertainment sales continue to outperform with close to a half million copies of "Max & Ruby" DVDs sold in Canada alone. Book sales also are booming with Key Porter's successful publishing program, and more than 30 titles will have been published by the end of 2009. "'Max & Ruby' is a strong content-driven brand that offers a deep and lasting connection with preschoolers and moms," says Mark Northwood, vice president of worldwide licensing at Nelvana Enterprises.

"Ruby Gloom" is another top merchandising priority for Nelvana. "Ruby Gloom" is an animated comedy series produced by Nelvana Studio, Radar Cartoons and Mighty Fine. It's an international broadcast hit with partners that include YTV in Canada, France 3 in France, Super RTL in Germany, Raisat in Italy, ABC in Australia and New Zealand, and Cartoon Network in Latin America, Japan and Spain. "'Ruby Gloom' is one of Canada's hottest television and licensing properties," comments Northwood. "The unique look of the show has caused an international fashion craze with tweens and teens, and more than 50 merchandise licensees are signed on around the globe." In 2008, "Ruby Gloom" made an appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival with specially designed T-shirts from Mighty Fine featured in the Tastemakers swag lounge visited by Jennifer Aniston and other notable celebrities.

Kirk Bloomgarden, executive vice president of worldwide consumer products and marketing at Cookie Jar Entertainment based in Burbank, Calif., shared news of two of the company's latest endeavors. "Two properties we are currently focusing on are 'Hurray For Huckle!' by Richard Scarry and 'Strawberry Shortcake.' 'Hurray For Huckle!' is a series we continue to focus on from a broadcasting global perspective. To date, more than 150 million copies of the Scarry books have been sold, so this is significant. Total sales are more than $300 million worldwide, and more than 300 titles in the Scarry library have been translated into more than 30 languages," says Bloomgarden.

"The 'Hurray For Huckle!' series is created by us, and in Canada, it is one of the top-rated preschool shows on CBC," says Bloomgarden. "They recently picked up season two, which is currently in production." Looking from an international point of view, it is on in France on dual channels, France 5 and TIJI. Similarly, in Germany, it is on ZDF and KIKA. In addition, there will be new broadcasters coming on board, as well, and there will be outreach into some of the Nordic countries. i2_260.jpg

"From a licensing point of view, we handle it here in the U.S., and CPLG will handle European representation. In addition, Simon & Schuster is doing the publishing for 2010, and NCircle will be releasing four DVDs in 2009," Bloomgarden says. He noted that they also are planning an immersive Web site, which is slated to launch next month, and are looking into expanding into apparel and other categories.

Regarding "Strawberry Shortcake," Bloomgarden says that more than $2.7 billion in retail sales have been generated since its relaunch in 2002. "We have more than 500 licensees worldwide, and the show continues to be broadcast on our CBS Saturday morning block here in the U.S., as well as in other broadcasts around the world," says Bloomgarden.

From a consumer products point of view in licensing, there is a new look in "Strawberry Shortcake" being launched in fall 2009, with a host of products and licensees. Hasbro is licensing a new line of strawberry-scented Strawberry Shortcake toys, and Hasbro is the new master toy licensee worldwide. In addition, Fox Home Entertainment has a new CGI movie and a DVD planned. "We have many new licensees coming on board in all categories. This success is global. It is big in both Europe and Latin America, as well as in the U.S. In addition, it is the No. 2 girl's property in France and was voted the best licensed character of 2008 in Brazil, by Lojas magazine," he added. i3_155.jpg

According to Jennifer Bennett, executive vice president of CCI Entertainment in Toronto, CCI launched its new CG animated series, "Turbo Dogs," at Mipcom this past October and will be seeking home entertainment and key category partners as broadcast deals are secured. "The first season, comprised of 26x30 episodes, targets 4- to 8-year-olds and delivers a winning combination of action and humor, while promoting friendship, fair play and teamwork. Look for it to launch on qubo in the U.S., which began in October 2008, and will launch early in 2009 on CBC in Canada."

CCI has several exciting properties in various stages of development and production—most of which have been created to deliver a strong off-air experience in terms of consumer products, publishing and live events. "Of note, we recently announced a partnership with the in-school publication, Weekly Reader, and I'm very much looking forward to working on that program, as well, which will begin as a U.S. initiative tentatively slated for late 2009/early 2010. I'm also very excited about a couple of preschool properties that I am confident have very strong licensing applications." One of those shows, "Rah Rah!" is being co-developed by CCI and Mackinnon and Saunders out of Manchester. "The feedback I've received from key categories has been tremendously positive, and the series was featured at the Cartoon Forum in September 2008," Bennett says. It's a stop-motion show targeted to 21/2- to 41/2-year-olds and follows the adventures of several little jungle animals as they learn about communication. i4_114.jpg

Bennett offered comments on growth opportunities for the future. "We have signed several new international licensees for 'Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs,' including plush, novelties, publishing, live events, and home entertainment in territories such as Germany, Spain, Portugal and Brazil. We constantly seek growth opportunities for our properties by way of new territories and categories and recently have appointed a number of new agents to represent several of our properties abroad," she added. Bennett just returned from Toy Fair in New York, where a number of their brands were well received. "We will be closing a number of deals in the coming weeks," says Bennett.

Kevin Gillis, executive producer and managing partner of Breakthrough Animation, and Stephanie Betts, director of development and licensing at Breakthrough Animation, outlined a synopsis of their plans. Breakthrough Animation has produced a primetime adult animated series, "Producing Parker," with CanWest Global, starring Kim Cattrall and Kristin Booth. "An edgy send-up of the daytime talk show genre, 'Producing Parker' follows the outrageous adventures of an overworked and underpaid television producer as she manages a dysfunctional production. We met with several American networks to find the appropriate home for 'Producing Parker' while at Mipcom, screening our animated demo," says Gillis. i5_89.jpg

In addition, the company produced a series titled "Jimmy Two Shoes," for Teletoon Canada, Jetix US and Jetix Europe. "Jimmy is an enthusiastic 14-year-old kid who accidentally falls into the weird world of Miseryville, where everything is designed to inflict torment onto its inhabitants. We were very excited to have screened 'Jimmy Two Shoes' for the first time at last fall's Mipcom Jr., alongside our partners Teletoon, Jetix Europe and Jetix US. We also met with several major home video companies, book publishers and potential master toy licenses while at Mipcom Jr. and looked forward to sharing our licensing campaign surrounding this hot new series," notes Betts. Gillis adds that "Jimmy Two Shoes" has been sold to the new Disney XD in the U.S. and started last month. "It launches in Canada in March on Teletoon and on Jetix/Disney XD in Europe in April 2009. Nickelodeon Latin America will be later this spring, and we are in the final process of closing with a major pan-Asia broadcaster," adds Gillis. i6_64.jpg

Currently in development with Treehouse Canada and 2D Lab of Brazil, Breakthrough Animation is developing, "My Big Big Friend," an animated series in which big problems shrink down to size with the help of a Big Big Friend. Gillis noted, "We now have a pick-up by Treehouse/YTV for 'My Big Big Friend' for 26 half hours and are doing this with 2D Lab in Brazil." In addition, the company will be promoting the newly completed third season of "Atomic Betty," along with its multi-platform content, including a new Web game, and has discussed several renewals, as well as new broadcast partnerships at Mipcom Jr. i7_50.jpg

Natalie Osborne, executive vice president of business development at 9 Story Entertainment, shared the company's programming lineup. 9 Story Entertainment brought its goodfella, Jimmy Falcone, out of hiding at Mipcom, with the introduction of "Fugget About It," the company's first prime-time animated project. The company presented buyers with a first look at the pilot of the new animated sitcom. "Fugget About It" follows the misadventures of a powerful former New York mob boss and his family, who are relocated to a sleepy Canadian town upon entering a witness protection program.

The pilot has been commissioned for The Detour on Teletoon, the network's teen and adult programming block. In addition, 9 Story Entertainment has secured broadcast agreements with Canada's TVO and Knowledge Network for the new animated series based on acclaimed author and artist Mick Inkpen's "Wibbly Pig."

"The company presented Mipcom attendees with a look at the first teaser of the highly anticipated new live-action adventure series for kids, 'Survivorman Kids,' hosted by Survivorman himself, Les Stroud," says Osborne. Created by Les Stroud and 9 Story and commissioned for YTV in Canada, "Survivorman Kids," 13x22 minutes, takes a team of six 14- to 16-year-olds into the wilderness for three weeks, with Les Stroud serving as their mentor and survivor skill judge. Stroud deploys his experience in the wild to embark on a journey where contestants start off as average kids with little or no outdoor experience and are transformed into confident, outdoor adventurers, able to confront anything nature may throw their way.

FitzRoy Media debuted its newly established media property development company and the worldwide launch of its flagship children's brand, BidZerk!, at Mipcom 2008. Announcing the launch was chief executive officer Hamp Hampton. Specializing in children's entertainment created for a variety of new and emerging media platforms, including mobile, Internet and interactive broadcast television, FitzRoy was selling format rights at Mipcom to "BidZerk!," a new game show concept for kids 9 to 14 that features a live studio audience.

A 21st century auction game for kids, BidZerk! combines the excitement of an online auction with the knowledge skills needed for television's top quiz shows, together with the prize-winning thrill of a game show. According to the company, the result is a game to be played across multiple media platforms, including Web portals and wireless networks, along with an interactive game board.

Hampton says: "We established FitzRoy Media to take advantage of kids' growing consumption of multi-media content—especially content offered outside of broadcast television—and to leverage other companies in that space who have proven success in distribution, licensing and production to complement our efforts. BidZerk! is designed to take advantage of the trend toward new platforms for entertainment and the emergence of these platforms as both complementary and alternate destinations to broadcast television, that will build global brands for children."

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