Nelvana Enterprises (U.K.) Limited is optimistic that changes in the Asian television marketplace will benefit its program sales and search for co-production partners.
For one thing, children’s series that ‘rely more on storytelling and the comical rather than action-adventure seem to be gathering some ground,’ says Tom van Waveren, international sales executive with London-based Nelvana Enterprises (U.K.). Nelvana programs such as Little Bear, Stickin’ Around and Donkey Kong Country suit this climate.
While van Waveren like many other executives attending MIP’ Asia emphasizes that each Asian country has its own culture, history and television marketplace, in general, the region is opening to a broader range of children’s programs. Animation from the West is becoming more common in Asia, while television series from the region are also appearing more often abroad. ‘[Children] thrive on seeing a large diversity of product,’ he says, as opposed to just more of their favorite.
A lack of ad revenues for preschool programs reduces the number of outlets interested in children’s programs. For example, Little Bear, which is aimed at preschoolers, will be easier to place in a territory where there is a bigger accent on public broadcasting,’ says van Waveren. ‘When it’s only commercial broadcasting, there is always the problem that ad revenue is very limited when the target audience is preschool children.’ Preteen series are easier to sell to commercial broadcasters.
It’s a good time to team up with co-production partners in the region. ‘There is a readiness on the side of broadcasters as well as studios and other players in the industry to ensure that they get quality product and that they don’t have to fight for it once it’s completed. They will put in the extra finance and the extra effort to commit to a project at an earlier stage.’
Licensing and merchandising are ‘fairly young’ industries, ‘but evolving at a very high speed.’ As well as broadcasters asking about licensing and merchandising rights, companies interested in licensing properties are also inquiring about purchasing television rights ‘because they think that they can work the system the other way around, where they will propose television rights to broadcasters if they can get the advertising space around the program to promote their own