Gotham and Yahoo! to animate the web
Representing more than 250 top directors, writers, producers, illustrators and artists, The Gotham Group has arguably one of the deepest talent pools in the kids entertainment industry. And despite its somewhat silly name, Yahoo! is certainly no fool when it comes to web content. So it’s no surprise, really, that the two companies have hooked up in a first-look deal for web content. The multi-year partnership will see Gotham produce original webtoons around brand-new IPs and existing properties owned by its clients. The content will play out across all of Yahoo!’s content banners, although Jon Vein, who negotiated the deal for Gotham, says the teen stream tends to be where breakout hits happen.
Vein chose to work with Yahoo! because of the commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by senior execs such as chief business officer Ira Kurgan, who witnessed the meteoric success of The Simpsons and the Fox Kids brand while at Fox in a business affairs capacity during the ’90s. A true believer in the power of animation, Kurgan is investing significantly in the medium to make Yahoo!’s online experience more entertaining. And looking ahead to the future, says Vein, dubbing animation into foreign languages without it seeming less indigenous means this content will travel well amongst Yahoo!’s international platforms.
Paramount steps out with Apple
Following bravely in Disney’s trailblazing footsteps, Viacom’s Paramount has hooked up with iTunes to make its back catalogue of movies available for download, including teen-friendly titles such as Mean Girls and Save the Last Dance. Disney has been selling flicks on Apple’s music site since October 2006, and according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, they’ve already been downloaded more than 1.3 million times. Target and Wal-Mart have made noise about being priced out of the race for new release profits because Apple is paying lower wholesale fees. While it’s true that Disney’s new releases sell for just US$14.99 on iTunes, these downloads don’t come with any of the extras that are exclusive to higher-priced DVDs. But regardless, Paramount’s decision to only offer library titles (priced at US$9.99) may be strategic so as to avoid coming under similar fire from its bricks-and-mortar partners.