After more than two years on the international event circuit spreading the word about Brazil’s animation chops, MoP Brasil Digital has shifted some of its focus inward. The Sao Paulo-based production company, owned by Internet and venture cap firm Webforce Networks, has launched a distribution subsidiary to help small and mid-sized international producers find broadcast footholds in the region.
Director of operations Tony Reis, who will be heading up the new division, says he has been trolling markets including MIPTV and MIPCOM over the past year and is currently in negotiations to rep several properties in Brazil. He hopes to lock down at least four series for TV distribution and 10 DVD releases in the next few months. At the same time, MoP’s animation unit is looking to add three or four co-productions to its catalogue for 2005, and the sales unit will manage these domestically.
Free-to-air channels still dominate the Latin American TV airscape, and they ‘aren’t really paying so much attention to children’s properties right now,’ says Federico Goldenberg, MoP’s director of business development. But he adds that this is starting to change. For example, Globo TV, the largest free-to-air broadcaster in Brazil, has been retooling its kids lineup by picking up more anime-inspired shows from foreign suppliers, including Nelvana’s Beyblade. ‘The kids market is starting to open up. The penetration of cable and satellite TV is growing, and all the big players – like Cartoon, Nick and Disney – are here.’
Although the majority of international fare airing on the region’s kidnets is coming from large global studios like Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. right now, Reis believes that as the channels continue to look outside these libraries to refresh their lineups, smaller players could step in to meet this need. He does warn, though, that the Latin American market is quite insular and can be challenging to navigate for producers who aren’t familiar with the landscape or the language.
Without a key broadcast deal, kids DVD properties are still a hard sell, so Reis says the company’s strategy for now will be to find a TV berth before developing home entertainment options. However, the Latin American DVD market is definitely coming on stronger than it ever has before. DVD players came down significantly in price in the region last year, and unit sales increased by 80%, from roughly 3.5 million in 2003 to more than six million in ’04. Reis says there’s a big demand for more content to feed this market, and the majority of titles currently on shelves are family features such as Shrek 2 or big-name animated series like PowerPuff Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants.