Sony Pictures Family Entertainment’s Max Steel earns its ‘property to watch’ badge mainly because of the speed with which it shot up the ratings charts. Only four weeks after its March debut on Kids’ WB!, the show grabbed a number one ranking with boys ages two to 11 in its 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning slot. The four-week average showed the series clocking in with an average 6.9 Nielsen rating and 22 share among boys of the same age, up against Nick’s Rugrats and Nascar Racers on Fox Kids. For the six to 11 set, the series did even better, with a 7.9 rating and 25 share. At press time, Steel rated number two with kids six to 11, just behind Pokémon, and it has already been picked up for a second season with 13 new eps.
The CGI series features 19-year-old Josh McGrath, an extreme sports fanatic by day with a hidden identity as bionic secret agent Max Steel. The extreme sports angle is dictating the next stage in the property’s licensing program, which will build on the 40-SKU Mattel toy line that hit shelves in January with new sporting goods and apparel licensees. The next product wave hits both specialty and mass market retail this fall, where it will go head-to-head with similar merch from Hasbro for Action Man.
SPFE is prompting licensees to use the thumbs-up logo from Steel’s clothes and vehicles on licensed apparel, sporting goods and other merchandise. ‘This will allow boys to feel they are Max Steel,’ says Juli Boylan, Sony Pictures Consumer Products VP of domestic sales and retail development, likening it to the Hang 10 logo of Generation Me. SPFE is also hoping to drum up a licensing furor over the high-tech elements in the series. ‘Max Steel takes kids into a video game-like experience, and that has a lot to do with the show’s success,’ says Boylan.
SPFE will dangle the second season renew carrot before potential licensees at Licensing 2000. A QSR deal with Pizza Hut will also run from November through December in 2,000 restaurants across the U.S., featuring four extreme sports-themed premiums, and three million units to be distributed in all. On-line buzz is being generated via three separate sites, including a site produced by master toy licensee Mattel (www.maxsteel.com), a Sony-produced site (www.maxsteeltv.com) and a Kids’ WB! Web area (www.kidswb.com).
Max Steel’s U.S. and international licensees have now grown in number to 19, including recent additions such as New York’s Rand International for sporting goods, and Jem Sportswear of San Fernando, California for apparel and accessories.