Looking to replicate the success of its first-ever co-pro Five Minutes More, which won its time slot and averaged a free-to-air share of 64% with kids up to age four in its debut season last year, ABC Enterprises is actively combing the international market for new concepts to partner on. But the unit is shifting its focus up the demographic scale to zero in on older-skewing projects.
Says Katie Cordes, who took over leadership of Enterprises as manager of product and content development last September, ‘We love preschool, and while I think the ABC will always have a place for preschool productions, at the moment we’re focused more on cross-platform projects and school-age kids and tweens.’
Cordes and her team are interested in live-action and puppet-based programming that doesn’t come with a high pricetag, and half hours that can be broken up into 11-minute segments tend to work best for ABC Kids’ air. Educational concepts and short-form content that can kick off online or on a mobile/broadband platform are also particularly appealing.
In the next three years, Cordes plans to rachet up Enterprises’ co-pro activity level so that the division is pushing through one original series a year, as well as delivering new seasons of entrenched properties. The most valuable asset the unit brings to the bargaining table is access to funding since it rarely considers taking on projects that won’t get a commission or presale from ABC TV. Its in-house financing experts also know a thing or two about how to tap into local subsidies and take advantage of internal production resources (i.e. scriptwriting, design work, location scouting, shooting).
And then after a show is on air, Enterprises can move brands through its many ancillary business silos, which include international distribution, licensing, publishing, events, video/DVD and digital media, to maximize back-end profits. On Five Minutes More, for example, the team is preparing to roll out a book series, DVDs and plush/gift products this month.
In terms of its own brands and IP, Enterprises is working with ABC TV on developing a live-action arts & crafts series, as well as hooking up with Canadian consultant Loredana Cunti to find a partner who can help translate Jeanette Rowe’s Yoyo book franchise for the screen.