RTV Family Entertainment of Munich, Germany plans to expand its library by upping original production and distribution acquisitions. ‘We want to extend our library to get access to more international rights in order to position ourselves as an international program and content supplier,’ says Peter Hille, a board member at RTV.
The prodco has inked a deal with CLT-UFA International that provides RTV with international rights to 500 hours of kids and family-targeted animated and live-action programming. In exchange, CLT-UFA gets a 4% participating interest in RTV’s equity capital. The new programs include series The Legend of William Tell and the feature film Hugo the Jungle Creature. The deal means a significant increase in RTV’s library size, up 40% to 1,970 hours (or 5,016 episodes), compared to 1,120 hours (or 3,340 episodes) last year.
RTV also signed a five-year co-production and sub-license agreement with Super RTL, with the option to extend it another five years. Under the terms of the deal, RTV agrees to co-produce at least one 26 x half-hour series a year with the family channel and will also provide Super RTL with a minimum of three half-hour animated series a year. ‘We did this to have a solid relationship with a broadcaster,’ Hille explains, saying that RTV now has a broadcaster lined up for everything on its production slate. He speculated that either Wicked or Gloria’s House, both co-pros with Sydney-based Energee Entertainment, will be the first toon co-pro deal with Super RTL.
RTV projects a sales increase of 200% this year over last year, to the tune of US$49 million. The company also plans to increase its equity in the series it partners on, Hille says, adding that in the past, RTV has invested 20% to 30% equity investment in co-productions, resulting in limited rights for German-speaking territories and Eastern Europe. ‘Now we’re investing 50% of our entire budget, so we have better equity exposure and as a result, we will get more international distribution rights,’ Hille says. RTV is bankrolling its increased expenditures through money raised from going public.
RTV also opened its wallet to Energee Entertainment, investing US$26.6 million into the indie animation studio. The deutschmark infusion gives RTV a majority interest in Energee and allows for the merging of both companies’ distribution arms under the RTV banner, giving RTV a stronger distribution position in South-East Asia and Australia. Energee’s first animated feature, The Magic Pudding, will be released by Twentieth Century Fox in Australia during the Christmas season. The spin-off The Magic Pudding series is in development, slated for a Q4 2001 delivery. Budgeted at about US$300,000 per episode, the co-production with RTV targets ages six to 11. RTV is also co-producing Energee’s Scrooge Koala’s Cove (working title), along with GMTV UK. The 26 x half-hour toon, also budgeted at US$300,000 per episode, targets the preschool set and is based on the special Scrooge Koala’s Christmas Special. The 2-D series is slated for delivery in Q4 2001.