Paris-based Expand Licensing is evolving its licensed merchandise business into the realm of creating branded blocks of kids TV. The new endeavor began with a block created for Fox Kids France, Interdit aux Grands, which launches this month and will continue until March 2001. Bruno Zarka, Expand’s executive licensing manager, says the company is interested in branding other kids programs to create blocks for distribution in other territories.
For the Fox deal, Expand has maintained all the merchandising rights for the block in France. Including Thomas the Tank Engine, Mumfie and Bananas In Pyjamas, Interdit aux Grands, made up of one 30-minute program daily, will air 6:55 a.m. to 7:25 a.m. weekdays, and on weekends from 8:15 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.
Expand is also launching a kids monthly magazine, La Boite Magique, published by U.K.-based Eaglemouse, concurrent with the block’s launch in January.
On the merchandise front, Expand is currently negotiating toy and publishing deals for Bananas in France and is ramping up a Thomas program to go along with the introduction of the series. As for Mumfie, Expand is negotiating a plush deal, hoping to position the character as a niche property for preschool girls. Zarka is also working on several video deals, although none were signed at press time.