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Beyond-distributed Iconicles(right) and Curtis Jobling’s Rah Rah! (below)

representing the CBeebies-commis- sioned show Iconicles, which was creat- ed by Little Robots producer Create Media, and has retained the licensing rights for the property. “We have very high hopes for

[Iconicles’] merchandising potential,” says Beyond’s general manager Fiona Crago. “The characters lend themselves perfectly to merchandising and the prop- erty could not have a better originating platform, with it being commissioned by the BBC.”

The ideal combination is, of course, a merchandise deal and the backing of a key broadcaster. “The cross-promotion between the broadcaster and the mer- chandising is mutually beneficial, each one building awareness of and the fan base for the

property,” Crago says. Viselman adds that any TV creator interested in the long-term success of their property should treat their brand as if they were building a house. “Your home video business is a wall in your house; the publishing is another wall…and for a long term successful business you have to keep feeding those separate businesses.”

The notion that property owners need to adopt a long-term vision to secure a hit series was the main rea- son Chris Bartleman sold Studio B, the animation company he co-founded, to Canadian distributor DHX Entertainment. Now at DHX, Bartleman says: “Two animators can’t turn their properties into international successes. The making of a hit show is more than the show. It takes a much bigger strategy to launch you to the next level with partners, licensing agree- ments etc. Of course you need a good show, but the more of the other stuff you have in place then the easier it is to cre- ate that perfect storm.”

DHX hopes that it is on the way to creating that with its preschool series Animal Mechanicals, which will air on the new US Hasbro/Discovery Communications network The Hub. The 55x11mins series is one of the highest-rated preschool shows in Canada, where it airs on CBC, and has

10TBI Kids June/July 2010

already been picked up by a host of other territories including the Disney Channels in UK and Asia, Discovery Latin America, Romania’s HOP. Bartleman also reveals that DHX has been in talks with Hasbro over the planned re-launch of the My Little Pony franchise. “It’s amazing to sit there and talk about how high up on a shelf prod- ucts might get placed and what colours they will be. You really learn a lot about all that goes into design of the charac- ters and the millions of different things they have to consider.” However, it’s a market that Ross Russell is approaching with caution, and he is currently trying to reduce the number of kids shows on BBCWW’s slate with the view to focusing on a few key properties, such as the in-house produced CBeebies series, ZingZillas. “We have around 40 brands. There are 27 kids TV channels running around 1,000 shows. Out of those there will be a maximum of 10 key brands. That means that there’s a 0.1% chance of as show’s brand being successful at retail,” he says. A stroll down the toy aisle of a big supermarket will reveal some media-related properties will be movie titles such as Toy Story 3 while others are perennials such as Disney. “So trying to breaking in with a new brand is incredibly difficult,” Ross Russell notes. TBI

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