Sony Wonder, the children’s and family division of Sony Music, has made a further move to extend its reach within the children’s entertainment arena with the acquisition of New York-based independent producer Sunbow Entertainment.
Under the terms of the agreement, Sunbow, which develops, produces, distributes and finances animated and live-action television series internationally, becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Wonder. C.J. Kettler continues as president of the company and retains responsibility for all day-to-day operations, which will remain based in New York.
According to Kettler, Sunbow had been looking for a suitor for a long time that would give it a stronger market position.
‘Having a strong corporate partner in this competitive marketplace is obviously a very good thing,’ says Kettler. ‘Our business is very much focused on the international market and international distribution, and having a rather large corporate parent allows us to do more projects on a much faster basis.’
‘It’s a perfect matching of skills,’ she adds. ‘Sony brings domestic video distribution to the table, we bring international television distribution. Plus, we each will continue to do our own creative development, and we will continue with our slate of development projects.’
Sunbow’s lineup of projects includes Brothers Flub and Student Bodies. The company is also developing several new series for international distribution.
Sony Wonder president Ted Green says the agreement is proof of how far his company has come in the five years since it was formed, and it represents a major step in Sony Wonder’s commitment to strengthening its position in the children’s entertainment arena.
‘This gives us an additional dimension,’ says Green. ‘It’s about having two separate creative entities creating original properties and programs.’
The deal is part of a long-term strategy by Sony Wonder to secure sources of programming that will lead to the development of original franchises for the television, home video, audio and ancillary markets.
Both Kettler and Green agree that the marriage of the two companies reflects what could be the beginning of a round of mergers and acquisitions within the children’s entertainment industry.
‘The market is pointing to the strong getting stronger and the smaller companies needing strong alliances in order to maximize their potential,’ says Green.
Says Kettler, ‘I think you may in fact see other independents looking for partnerships that will shore them up in a marketplace that is certainly more complex than it was five years ago.’