Nelvana may have a 30-year history in production, but the Toronto, Canada-based prodco maintains its edge by constantly changing. ‘We continually have to reinvent ourselves,’ says CEO Michael Hirsh.
Like the rest of the production community, Nelvana has found the continued consolidation of the broadcast industry a challenge, although the company itself was acquired by Corus Entertainment in January. While integrating with a parentco shook things up a bit, the deal brought Nelvana into an entertainment fold that includes broadcasters YTV and Treehouse TV, Teletoon (of which Corus owns 40%) and kids website Yabber.net.
But despite the conveniences offered by its new extended family, Nelvana continues to grow independently, as evidenced by a recent co-pro deal with MTV for Sausage Factory (working title), which signaled its move into the live-action genre and the young adult demographic. The prodco is also trying to establish itself as a significant dealer in tween fare by picking up the international distribution rights for Nick shows Taina and The Fairly OddParents.
Preschool is obviously still a key focus as programmers look for that next big tot hit, and the company also wants to continue its anime streak, hoping to pick up a top anime series every year–its first was Cardcaptors, followed by Medabots.
Setting the tone for next year, Hirsh singled out the development of the company’s marketing department, headed by chief marketing officer David Kincaid, previously VP of marketing at Corus. ‘We produced more shows than ever this year,’ Hirsh says, ‘but the important thing is to maintain a level of quality, and continue to promote and market the brand.’