ITV nixes SM:TV Live
Faced with steadily declining ratings, ITV has decided to pull the plug on its flagship Saturday morning TV series SM:TV Live. The two-hour show debuted in 1998 and quickly became a top performer for the network. At the height of its popularity in 2001, SM:TV (produced by Zenith Entertainment’s Blaze Productions) was attracting audiences of more than two million viewers. But that audience has since been cut in half, according to Patrick Keegan, a spokesperson for Blaze. ITV plans to replace SM:TV with a new two-hour format, which Carlton Productions is co-producing with London-based studio The Foundation (Basil Brush). In addition to housing acquired series, the as-yet-untitled show will feature a mix of games, music and sketches. Until the replacement debuts next spring, ITV will air reruns from SM:TV’s archive.
MTV extends its reach into the Eastern bloc
Aiming to expand its footprint in Eastern Europe, MTV Networks International recently launched a Nick-branded animation block on Russian channel TNT – Telesat. Featuring Nick mainstays including SpongeBob SquarePants, Rugrats and Hey Arnold!, the two-hour block is available to TNT’s 90 million viewers and complements MTVNI’s existing kids cable network Nickelodeon Russia, which launched in 1998.
Fox Kids Europe ups its adventure quotient
Hoping to fortify its portfolio with more action-laden fare, Fox Kids Europe has purchased rights to three new animated properties. Leading the pack is Sonic the Hedgehog redux Sonic X (52 x half hours from Tokyo, Japan-based TMS Entertainment), for which FKE has scored TV and home video rights for all territories (excluding North America and Asia). From Tokyo MediaNet, FKE also picked up TV and home video rights in Europe (excluding Spain and Portugal), the Middle East, Israel and French- and English-speaking Africa (excluding South Africa) to fantasy series Shaman King (64 x half hours), which tracks the adventures of a teenage shaman priest. Rounding out the threesome is L.A.-based Porchlight Entertainment’s Tutenstein (26 x half hours), a fish-out-of-water tale about a 3,000-year-old boy Pharaoh trying to find his way in the present. Fox acquired TV, home video, on-line & interactive and merch rights to the 2-D/3-D series for Europe, Israel and French-speaking Africa.