High-octane Japanese anime has been the backbone of RTL2′s kids programming strategy for the past few years, and it continues to perform well. The 11-year-old German channel, which airs 20 to 26.5 hours of kids fare each week in a weekday afternoon animation block, rakes in a 33% share of the country’s three- to 13-year-old viewers with its top kids program Yu-Gi-Oh! (from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.), followed closely by 30% shares for Yu-Gi-Oh! lead-in Detective Conan and Digimon at 2:45 p.m.
With its reputation as a boy-skewing action-adventure destination so solidly established, Andrea Lang, the channel’s senior VP of acquisitions for animation and kids programming, will be trolling the Palais at MIPCOM in pursuit of new girls shows to even out RTL2′s gender split of 65% boys and 35% girls. After an acquisitions spree, she would like to be closer to 50/50.
Lang will definitely be checking out the second season of Rainbow’s Winx Club since the first run debuted over the summer and is averaging a 24% share. ‘Winx Club has a modern look and is fantasy-driven,’ says Lang, explaining that these elements appeal to boy viewers and mesh well with the RTL2′s existing action toons. ‘But there’s also a level of identification for girls ages eight to 10 because of its emphasis on friendship, jealousy and companionship.’
Lang also plans to swing by the Toei Animation stand to take a look at its latest girl-power property Pretty Cure. The series launched in Japan this spring as part of TV Asahi’s weekend morning block, and its first 10 episodes averaged an overall share of 8%, with girls comprising 60% of that audience. Pretty Cure has roots in anime’s magical girl genre, starring two schoolgirls who work together to fight an evil force that takes over everyday objects and wreaks havoc. Lang says the series echoes back to one of RTL2′s first anime acquisitions, Sailor Moon, except this new show is ‘not so flowery or pink, and there’s a lot more action involved.’
The network leads off its afternoon toon block at noon with a double shot of girl-skewing Doremi (Toei), followed by a Warner Bros. hour with Mucha Lucha and Ozzy and Drix. The rest of the block – which runs through to
4 p.m. in the summer, and later until 5:30 p.m. in the winter – is dedicated to darker, hard-core anime shows such as Beyblade (Nelvana and D-Rights) and One Piece (Toei). Lang says RTL2 is the only destination for older kids on weekday afternoons, and the block nets an average 33% share of its core eight to 13 target audience. Other German kidcasters run the bulk of their toons on Saturday mornings, and weekday specialists KI.KA and Super RTL tend to focus on kids under 10.
Lang anticipates the effort to include girls in RTL2′s action-heavy schedule will also serve to offer younger boys an alternative to the dark, fantasy edge that characterizes shows like One Piece and Beyblade, both of which also have the kind of multi-episodic story lines that appeal to older viewers.
Lang is also looking to connect with distributors of animated comedy programming that runs at the same pace and is styled in a similar vein as Mucha Lucha. This is a new buying remit for RTL2, so she’s just hoping to come away from MIPCOM with a better sense of what’s available and in development.
Although Lang says her immediate focus is on finding long-running series to strip into her afternoon block, RTL2 is also in the very early stages of evaluating projects for co-production. Lang stresses it’s not even a five-year plan at this point, but she’s open to hearing suggestions from producers as a first step towards launching the German net into its first co-pro.