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TBI KIDS THE US The Hub


showrunners and writers: “The choice of head writer is very important because their reputation and creative pitch initial- ly sells the show. Their role is to create character, story and set the tone. On Pocoyo, we chose Andy Yerkes (Bear in the Big Blue House) and Ken Scarborough (Arthur).”


Underlining the point is the decision by Nick US to drop Australian live-action series H20 - Just Add Water (Jonathan Schiff/ZDF Enterprises). Initially, the deci- sion to air the show suggested that US audiences had overcome their resistance to Aussie accents. But the subsequent decision to axe the show mid-season proved that the gulf between US and inter- national sensibilities is still hard to bridge. Tapaas Chakravarti, CEO of Indian production powerhouse DQ Entertainment says: "It is highly improba- ble that a US network would look outside its boundaries for comedy," he explains. "And the US animation market tends to be driven by specific and localised requirements."


Margaret Loesch, recently-installed President and CEO of The Hub,wants to bring together “a diverse slate and a wide array of amazing creative talent to make The Hub a popular destination for children and their families.” That sounds like good news for indie studios, which certainly did well in the first wave of shows picked up for the autumn 2010 season. All told, there are six Hub Originals and


seven US Premiere Series. Among the latter are DHX Media’s animated preschool series Animal Mechanicals,Moonscoop’s tween CGI series Cosmic Quantum Ray (pictured),


core audience, focus group data to sup- port the message, flexibility in deal eco- nomics and added-value features such as additional content and marketing sup- port. For children’s shows - particularly preschool - an educational element is crit- ical as pure entertainment is usually not parent endorsed. Ridge does not see Pocoyo’s presence on Nick Jr. as limiting the property’s ancil- lary potential. This is because ITVS has woven together a distribution plan that covers a number of broadcasters in both the English-speaking and Hispanic mar-


Dentsu’s anime action adventure series Deltora Quest, Henson’s puppetry series Fraggle Rock, Pukeko Pictures’ The WotWots and Oxford Scientific Films’Meerkat Manor. Of course, The Hub’s appeal to indies as a


brand-building platform may be temporary. Discovery is not famed for handing back rights to producers - while Hasbro’s primary objective will be the development of its own properties.With that in mind, it’s also possible that other toycos (notably Mattel) will be reluctant to support indie properties airing on a Hasbro-owned TV channel.


kets: “Pocoyo will make its English-lan- guage debut on Nick Jr. in June 2010, broadcasting daily,” he says, “but this will be supported by a weekly Spanish-lan- guage broadcast on Univision’s Planeta U block together with daily airings on WGBH Boston and Discovery Familia”. Combine this with marketing activity from master toy licensee Bandai and he expects Pocoyo to fare well in the US. Of course, all of this can only come together if international studios have the right mindset, says Ridge. Echoing Van Waveren, he says this means hiring local


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This insight has helped shape the way DQE approaches the US: "We have learned a lot about scripting, acting and cultural nuances from working with Disney, Nickelodeon and Universal on shows like Mickey Mouse Club House, The Penguins of Madagascar and Fan Boy and Chum Chum. We've combined that valuable learning with our technical expertise on series like Jungle Book and Peter Pan - properties that we own." DQE expects to announce US broad- cast deals for Jungle Book and Peter Pan this year. "The fact that we can deliver completed TV series is key to entering the US market. But also important is that we are producing iconic brands - since this offsets our marketing and promotional costs," Chakravarti says. "The US is still the undisputed leader in animation and largely drives the success or failure of a property worldwide. However, some intellectual property originating outside the US is finding financial success in other markets - animated properties like The Little Prince and Le Petit Nicolas have seen more region-specific audiences - something that was rare a decade ago.” TBI


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