Extending YTV’s reach beyond Canada is no easy task. YTV president Paul Robertson believes the specialty channel’s best chance for reaching beyond Canada’s borders lies with its new preschool channel, Treehouse TV.
‘Treehouse is our most exciting opportunity to extend branding outside Canada,’ says Robertson. ‘We see the preschool area as one where we can make a contribution outside Canada.’
Launched in November last year, Treehouse TV offers commercial-free programming for preschoolers, age six and younger, from morning until night. The channel is offering preschoolers two new original programs, as well as favorites like Barney and Friends and Tots TV. Between programs, viewers can watch interstitials, hosted by humans and puppets in the make-believe world called Treetown.
The original series, Ants in Your Pants and Crazy Quilt, represent the channel’s best opportunity for reaching other markets, according to Susan Ross, vice president and general manager of Treehouse TV.
Ants in Your Pants is a half-hour music video show, hosted by a monkey puppet and three carpenter ants, featuring performances by children’s musical entertainers. Crazy Quilt is a craft show.
Ross says there are no firm plans to export the original shows, but she believes the shows will transport well into markets outside Canada.
‘We’re exploring where there is an opportunity to take not only the original programming we’ve created, but look for partnerships to include other programming and essentially package a service,’ she says, with the goal of branding the service with ‘our approach to on-air branding, our approach to the interstitial entertainment that takes place between the shows and put a proposition together that’s exportable.’
Treehouse TV is wholly owned by YTV. While Robertson believes that, internationally, the YTV brand stands for innovation and understanding of the kids market, his priority is to remain number one with kids in Canada.
‘The YTV brand is really strong domestically,’ he says. ‘Our challenge is to remain a strong number one with the kids community in Canada. Building that relationship [with kids] is key to our success and we’ll continue to build on that.’
Robertson cites the launch of Treehouse TV as one of many highlights of his time at YTV.
‘We believe it’s the first preschool channel in the world and we’re establishing a wonderful franchise among preschoolers,’ he says. ‘We are looking for opportunities to take our original [Treehouse] programming and broadcasting expertise we have with kids and extend it in partnerships in other countries.’