The truism that ‘no two deals are ever the same’ has never been more accurate than in today’s climate of intricate production partnerships linking companies from around the world. The main feature in our MIP-TV special report traces the evolution of these partnerships through the complex deals that led to new children’s television shows that are now being marketed at MIP-TV. The report also includes a discussion with U.S. studios on television programming trends, as well as a glimpse into the television markets of Germany, England and France.
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In many instances, when European animation is exported to the North American market, the programming is adjusted to suit local needs.
Such is rarely the case when North American shows are brought to France. Once bought, translated and dubbed, the shows are usually broadcast in their original version. And they can become huge hits.
A current example is the 26 x half-hour series Starla and The Jewel Riders (known as Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders in the U.S.), a fantasy-filled show targeted at girls, in which Princess Starla defends the land of Avalon. Produced by New Frontier Entertainment in association with Bohbot International, the series launched at MIPCOM ’95, and was first broadcast on France 3 in April 1996.
Starla reached the top of France 3′s ratings in children’s time slots, with a 77.6 percent market share average. ‘It was the first series for girls from five to nine years old on the market,’ says Nadia Nardonnet of Bohbot International. ‘But audience figures show that action, knights and fantastic stories work very well with boys, too.’
The series has been broadcast without interruption on France 3 every Wednesday morning since last September.
A vast marketing program was also launched at the end of last year. France Television Distribution, working with PolyGram, launched an original 10-song CD and developed a video with Welcome.
At the retail level, Bohbot and Toys ‘R’ Us have worked together to create a special area within the toy stores called Starla’s Boutique. The section offers such licensed products as bed linen, videos, dolls and children’s apparel.
Bohbot has also created its own interactive Starla Web site.
Another North American program that has made a successful transition into the French market is The Simpsons.
‘For us, it stands as our favorite series. It looks and sounds like Canal+,’ says François Reymond of Canal+. The Simpsons have been airing on Canal+ for seven years. Each year, the pay-TV channel broadcasts new episodes, along with older ones.
‘Scripts are even more surprising [now] than at the beginning,’ says Reymond, ‘and the audience is as enthusiastic as in the first years.’