The house of Bob and Thomas has long relied on a superb in-house creative team and merger-related acquisitions to build its impeccable library of preschool brands. But recognizing that there’s no monopoly on good ideas, HIT is now ready to start investing in co-productions.
Over the last two years, the company has spent somewhere between US$25 million and US$35 million annually on programming, and that pay-out will likely be maintained, even with co-pros thrown into the mix. But as the hunt for the right projects begins, HIT won’t be straying far from its comfort-zone of preschool-friendly fare with solid evergreen potential.
Executive director of corporate development Nigel Birrell will be on the lookout for live-action and animated shows that appeal to children ages zero to seven, with enough international appeal to give the company’s distribution network covering 200-plus territories a good workout. ‘We want to get all of our shows onto as many screens as possible,’ Birrell says, adding that HIT will likely aim to secure additional rights in home entertainment, live events and consumer products with its co-production ventures.
But above all else, projects should focus on the basic empowerment tools and rights of passage for preschoolers – namely, friendship, caring and finishing what you start.
Although an early-stage partnership is an ideal way to exploit HIT’s creative input, Birrell says the company would consider coming in at any phase of a project’s cycle, up to the start of production. ‘We could provide some funding and distribution, or just do some distribution,’ he says.
And while lining up HIT as a co-producer doesn’t guarantee airtime on the Sprout network in the U.S., Birrell says if it’s a good show, ‘there’s a very good chance it will end up there.’