MUNICH: EM.TV and Merchandising AG has inked a US$100-million, five-year deal with German TV net Sat.1, granting it 6,000 half hours of kids programming, including series like Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones and Alf. As part of the deal, Sat.1 will start airing a daily kids block branded under EM.TV’s Junior label on January 8, 2000. Junior was negotiated late last year as a 50/50 joint venture between EM.TV and KirchGroup. Sat.1, which ranks second in Germany’s commercial TV hit list, is controlled by Kirch, which owns a 56% stake in the channel. The agreement marks a departure from last year when Nickelodeon Germany shut down and TV providers like Pro Sieben and pubcaster ZDF clear children’s programs from their daytime skeds. Sat.1 is the only major German channel that never had any children’s slots in its lineup. Its decision to start airing kids fare stems from the increased presence of niche channels on the German front. These days, a general interest network must diversify in order to survive.
The deal also spells a broader exposure base for EM.TV’s Junior label-thus far, the branded block has only targeted subscribers to Kirch’s digital pay TV bouquet DF1. The increased eyeball net that the Sat.1 deal brings is crucial to the success of EM.TV’s hopes for launching a retail toy franchise in the near future.