Four years, five titles and two-million direct-to-video (DTV) deliveries later, Los Angeles-based PorchLight Entertainment and Emeryville, California-based toyco LeapFrog have extended their partnership – jumping to broadcast for original TV programming inspired by the brand.
The ink is drying on the contract, but a bible for the duo’s first yet-to-be-named preschool series is already in the works. The 52 x 13-minuter, budgeted at approximately US$300,000 per half-hour, will be an original concept drawn from LeapFrog’s edu-focused curriculum instead of the company’s existing line of electronic learning toys. PorchLight president Bruce Johnson says it’s too early to go into storyline details, but the production team is playing with animation styles and rough ideas for story concepts. The PorchLight team will start pitching to Australian, British, Scandinavian, German and American networks for presales in the coming months for the project’s expected delivery date sometime in Q3 2007.
And although LeapFrog is best known for its preschool-targeted LeapPad devices the pair is looking to create shows for other demos. (LeapFrog creates educational products for kids as old as 16, such as the iQuest handheld PDA.) The next series in line for development will target an older set, perhaps elementary school kids ages seven to 12. ‘We want to start [in preschool] where the opportunity is greatest,’ LeapFrog executive producer Chris D’Angelo says. ‘But we’re willing to go up or down from there.’
Johnson isn’t ruling out LeapFrog’s lineup of electronic books, games and plush assuming a bigger role in subsequent series produced under this deal. LeapFrog may create toy lines based on the programs, or the shows could incorporate a watch-and-play-along hook. Future series might tap LeapFrog’s cast of reptilian characters, including Leap, his sister Lily and younger brother Tad, for the TV spotlight.