Would a rose by any other name smell the same? ABC Cable Networks Group and Fox Kids Europe will find out this month, when a massive initiative to bring all of their broadcast offerings under a new brand called Jetix gets underway.
Kicking off in the Americas, the ABC Family morning schedule and Toon Disney’s prime-time Fox Kids programming blocks will adopt the new moniker first, while the FKE network of 17 branded blocks in Europe and the Middle East will start the conversion process in April. Fox Kids Latin America (which is wholly owned by The Walt Disney Company) will follow suit in early summer, with FKE’s cable and satellite channels (serving 57 countries) rounding out the effort this fall. By the end of 2004, the Jetix brand should be reaching 127 million households in 77 countries.
Bruce Steinberg, chairman and CEO of Fox Kids Europe, says the name change is purely intended to strengthen the alliance between FKE and ABC Cable Networks, and it will not affect the channels’ programming strategies one iota. ‘All of the core values we represent – action-adventure with a boys skew, cheeky humor – will remain the same.’
Steinberg adds that the Jetix relaunch also marks the start of a closer working relationship between FKE and ABC Cable Network on the production front. ‘When Fox Family was making all of the programming with Fox Kids, we were getting about 300 episodes a year. That’s where we want to go with ABC Cable Networks.’
The first co-production involving both entities to fall under the Jetix moniker will be W.I.T.C.H., a scorcery-themed animated series to be produced in conjunction with Germany’s Super RTL. Steinberg expects to announce two more boys action-adventure co-pros with Disney within the next six months.