Buyer Françoise Reymond, director of TV program acquisitions and youth programming at Canal+, recently picked up two properties from opposite ends of the demographic spectrum as part of what she refers to as a new acquisitions direction for the Paris-based pay channel. ‘The new policy of Canal+ regarding animation is to try to reach two new audiences for French territories,’ Reymond notes.
Untapped demographic sectors sought by the channel are adult/young adult, which the newly acquired South Park will target, and preschoolers, which the web hopes to attract with Teletubbies, another recent Canal+ acquisition.
A timeslot was freed up for Teletubbies, which will air as a strip every morning at 7:30 a.m., beginning October 12. The early morning slot will be unscrambled in keeping with an agreement between Canal+ and the French government that makes certain programs available to the public for free. Developed by British animator Anne Wood and produced by Ragdoll Productions, Teletubbies has become a preschool phenomenon in the U.K., as well as in the U.S. and Canada, and is distributed outside of the Americas by BBC Worldwide (the show is distributed in the Americas by itsy bitsy Entertainment).
Similarly, a free late-night timeslot was emptied to accomodate South Park, the brainchild of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (a production of Comedy Central). The series is sold globally by Catherine Comte, director of international development for Comedy Central International Development. The edgy hit comedy will air unscrambled on Sunday at midnight, as well as in scrambled slots on Saturday nights at 10 p.m. and Wednesdays at noon. South Park will be broadcast both in its original version with French subtitles, and dubbed in French-a first for an animated series on Canal+.
While the two properties are admittedly diverse, they both fit into the network’s current strategy of offering the best and most original programming-and garnering exclusive rights to the programs in France. According to Reymond: ‘The reason why we acquired these properties was for their originality and creativity, but also to reach a wide audience. Our aim is now `from Teletubbies to South Park,’ Reymond notes, referring to a wide demographic reach.
The pay channel is currently looking for additional properties whose ratings success in other major markets bodes well for a similar Canal+ eyeball tally. Additional acquisitions and productions at Canal+ which lend a contemporary feel to the network include teen and young adult shows such as C + Cleo, Invasion America and The Simpsons. Currently, Reymond’s department contributes 10% of the channel’s programming schedule, which is comprised of half French and half non-French animation (40% is from the U.S., 8% is European and 2% is from Japan).
During her 14-year tenure at Canal+, Reymond has been responsible for picking up hit properties such as Daria and The Simpsons. She has also been involved in the production of series such as Babar and Calamity Jane. Reymond is one of the original members of the team that founded Canal+.