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Rainbow’s Winx Club (left) and Ken Viselman’s upcoming film and TVseries Oogielovies

tion that broadcasters are starting to alienate preschoolers. “Execs are saying: ‘Let’s create a prop- erty for older kids and get the younger kids reach up for it’. That’s totally wrong. You have to make the characters relat- able,” he says. While Bob the Builder and

Teletubbies might only come around once every five or ten years, there is a feeling in the industry that the market is overdue an international hit. However, as Neil Ross Russell, BBC

WorldWide’s managing director for chil- dren’s points out, the playing field has changed considerably since the last kids TV smash hit. “Teletubbies raised the visibility of merchandise as a business model for

kids TV and it also came out at a point in which pay TV had only just arrived,” he says. “You could take Teletubbies around the world and free-to-air broad- casters would give you a very large share of the preschool audience and were very happy to pay for the rights.” Since pay TV kids have spread around the world, free-to-air broadcasters have largely stopped showing, or reduced their commitment to, kids TV. Simultaneously it has become more diffi- cult to sell kids content into pay TV. It’s not uncommon for content owners to sell to US broadcasters at a subsidised cost - or for free. When you consider a half hour animation can cost upwards of $350,000 this is an extremely high-risk strategy.

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“A lot of kids TV channels are vertical- ly integrated and their parent companies have their own content they want to put out there,” says Ross Russell. “They’ve also started to realise how important they are in gaining creators the exposure they need for merchandising and so are not prepared to pay a premium for pro- gramming.Those were the sorts of deals we were looking at when we first tried to launch In the Night Garden in the US and we were not prepared to hand over our baby when you consider the quality and the nature of that show.” According to Italian producer and dis- tributor Rainbow, creator of Winx Club, a reason why quite successful properties fail to crack one or two key territories, making them fall just short of an out- and-out worldwide TV smash, is some- times down to timing. Winx Club, a TV show for 4-to-11 year- olds involving a band of trendy fashion fairies, first launched in 2004 and is cur- rently airing on more than 150 networks. To date its merchandising has generated over US$2 billion in sales, largely thanks to the detailed clothes design of its char- acters. Yet Winx failed to establish itself in the US and UK markets when it first launched in those territories.

Rainbow consultant Lisa Hryniewicz notes: “At the time Mattel released Bratz to a similar demographic and it split the market. Also UK viewers were not that familiar with the type of Manga- inspired animation, which is more com- mon now.” Since Winx has gone on to be a suc- cess in other territories Rainbow is

TBI Kids June/July 2010 7

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