Based on the initial success of Porchlight Entertainment’s established kids series Jay Jay the Jet Plane, the company has formed a new consumer products division to handle its own properties, as well as other kid and family properties with out-of-house origins.
PBS recently agreed to take an additional 14 half hours of the Jay Jay series for its June 2001 Ready to Learn block, increasing the number of existing eps to 40. Stephanie Tier Friedman (formerly of Harvey Entertainment), who is heading up the division, says Porchlight hopes to eventually have 60 eps of Jay Jay in its library. The series currently airs on The Learning Channel.
According to Tier Friedman, the division’s first big project will be to add licensed Jay Jay toys, games, stationery, bedding and apparel to a merch lineup that already includes products from publishing licensees Intervisual Books and Tommy Nelson, as well as plush licensee Kid Power. The complete Jay Jay line will launch at retail by fall or Christmas 2001, after the show has had several months to build an audience on PBS.
Porchlight initially formed the division to keep up with Jay Jay’s growth. Tier Friedman says that the larger audience the show will gain on the Ready to Learn block should give Jay Jay enough viewers to support a wide-ranging consumer products program that includes a direct-to-video title in the works for fall 2001. Tier Friedman says once Jay Jay has a loyal fan base in the U.S., Porchlight will look to sell the series internationally, hopefully triggering demand for product abroad as well. Because it’s hosted by a live-action character, each territory will be able to insert a geographically-specific host.
The new division is also looking to expand Jay Jay’s reach into Christian bookstores and mass market outlets. Currently, product is primarily sold at specialty retailers.
Porchlight Consumer Products’ next assignment is to act as a licensing agent for other properties. It has already picked up all licensing rights for The Brainiacs.com, a TV movie produced by Porchlight Entertainment for the Disney Channel. Also planned as a weekly live-action series, The Brainiacs.com stars a group of kids who use the Internet to take over their father’s toy company. Porchlight will be looking sign interactive and toy licensees for the series, which will target 10- to 12-year-olds.
Another project is Intervisual’s Icky Sticky novelty book series, which features googly eyes and plastic tongues sticking out from the covers of titles like The Icky Sticky Frog and The Icky Sticky Anteater, that will be developed into a video series by Porchlight. Both the books and videos were introduced last month at Licensing 2000.
Porchlight’s own property, The Book of Virtues, will spin out an education-based licensing program that includes plush, toys and interactive products based on the animal stars of the series. Product is expected to hit North American shelves by the end of this year.