The launch of the Fox Kids Network in the U.K. on October 19 has many people wondering if there is any room left for another addition to an already crowded and competitive marketplace.
Crowded or not, the U.K. launch on Sky 2 broadcasting satellite is only the first step towards establishing Fox Kids as a global brand. According to Margaret L’esch, president of Fox Kids Networks Worldwide, Fox intends ‘to be in every major country in the world. Our goal is to be an extremely prolific, worldwide company providing entertainment for children.’
Entrance into the U.K. was determined as much by opportunity as by strategy. Contract negotiations were well under way on a proposed partnership with TCC when Fox was presented with an alternative. Rupert Murdoch’s Sky 2 broadcasting satellite offered Fox Kids the opportunity of broadcasting on the single remaining transponder site. Thus, Fox Kids could enter the U.K. market with complete control of its fate.
Fox Kids has been poised to grow internationally ever since it forged a partnership with Los Angeles-based Saban Entertainment. L’esch says ‘it was a non-cash transaction to create an alliance with Saban for the purposes of setting up international channels. We would contribute the strength of our distribution, the strength of our network, the creative leadership and broadcast expertise. And they would contribute their extensive library.’
Fox Kids will enter the U.K. with a strong brand push. Promotional efforts will build over four months, including a repeated promotional lead-in broadcasting on Sky 2 before the launch.
A partnership established with Virgin Cinemas will give Fox Kids trailers before movie screenings, followed by promotional giveaways in the form of collectible postcards. The promotional program is backed by extensive radio and television spots, in addition to outdoor advertising. In November and December, a promotional piece will appear on the back of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal.
Beyond the U.K. expansion lies the launch in November of a 24-hour Portuguese and Spanish channel in Latin America. Fox Kids is also currently in negotiations for the Asian marketplace with India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan being considered for additional networks.
Asked about his reaction to the Fox Kids launch, TCC general manager Franklin Getchell says, ‘We wish them luck, but not too much.’