While combining production, consumer products and interactive divisions under one roof has long been the modus operandi of established media outlets and larger prodcos, newer and smaller market players are making long strides in that same direction.
When former heads of MGM Animation Paul Sabella and Jonathan Dern created indie studio SD Entertainment in 2000, the duo’s main objective was to serve as a property launcher–developing, enhancing and rebranding global intellectual properties, beginning with 100 10-minute episodes of Make Way For Noddy for U.K.-based Chorion. In 2002, SD narrows the gap on that goal with the acquisition of U.S. TV and toy rights on Noddy and the launch of two new divisions to handle the company’s licensing and interactive businesses.
‘The plan is to determine what each new property’s core defining elements are and how they will play out in all forms of expression–video games, toys and publishing,’ says Michele Martell, who heads up the new divisions as senior VP and general counsel. And bringing in all partners and divisions at the outset, ‘rather than label-slapping on existing product that doesn’t really reinforce the brand identity,’ leads to integrated and cohesive franchises, she adds.
Future plans for Noddy hinge on securing a U.S. broadcaster and a master toy licensee. Once those two building blocks are stacked up, SD will likely handle the property’s U.S. licensing.
As to what’s next after Noddy, Martell claims SD is hard at work on some original properties–the details of which were unavailable at press time–and is on the lookout for international partners that share its ’360-degree’ property vision for the creation of children’s evergreen brands.
Along with portfolio growth, SD is looking to build its fledgling interactive gaming business. ‘Since a lot of what we do is in 3-D CGI, it dovetails nicely with video games. We’re working closely with a number of interactive partners to determine if there is a way to develop TV and video game projects simultaneously in order to exploit mutual assets,’ says Martell.