Stevie Stardust, a 3-D animated co-production between Berlin-based Stardust Entertainment, Hallmark Entertainment and Super RTL partner Hahn Films, is a recent addition to Super RTL’s kids slate, and will be used extensively in branding efforts targeting boys, says Andreas Seitz, head of communications at the German network.
Twenty-six half-hour episodes of the series were acquired by Susanne Schosser, who, as Super RTL’s director of programming, is the channel’s primary buyer of kids programming. Schosser paid an undisclosed ‘standard license fee’ for the program, which at Super RTL means between US$60,000 and US$90,000 for unlimited runs of a co-produced series. About 20% of Super RTL’s kids programming, which airs 12 hours per day on the network, is produced in-house, whereas 80% is acquired.
‘Stevie Stardust will be a key character in animation programming, and will be used in interstitials as well,’ says Seitz. The series targets boys in the all-important seven to 11 demo, and incorporates high-quality, cutting-edge animation techniques, another criteria that weighs heavily at Super RTL. ‘We have a good image concerning animation,’ notes Seitz. ‘This series shows that Super RTL is willing to go in different ways, not just well-proven ones.’ Seitz adds that parental approval must be considered by programmers in Germany, so the edginess of acquisitions shouldn’t go too far. ‘Parents may make choices for kids-they always glimpse what kids are watching,’ he says.
According to Seitz, several factors make acquired kids programming more attractive than ever in Germany. First, the exit of Nickelodeon from the German broadcasting landscape has resulted in a 10% drop in licensing fees, a development which was very noticeable at MIPCOM `98. Secondly, local high-tech animation that’s affordable is rare. ‘It’s really hard in Germany to produce [animation] oneself, especially when the quality of international product is so high,’ he notes.
Riding high on the pick-up wave, Seitz says Super RTL is currently ranked number one among kids ages three to 13 in Germany, with RTL’s kids block and ProSieben finishing second and third respectively.
Currently, Super RTL is looking for high-quality live-action programming that targets older kids. Seitz says previous live-action offerings at the network have not fared as well as animation, so a success in this category is being vigorously pursued.