New York-based licensing and marketing agency Big Tent Entertainment is heading to MIPTV with a shopping spree in mind. The company has just closed a multi-million dollar round of financing led by Mercury Capital Partners and is primed for aggressive expansion in the kids and family entertainment space.
‘We feel we have some holes in the portfolio,’ says CEO Rich Collins. ‘And we’re looking to shore up the holes at MIPTV.’ Collins and his team will have very specific goals in mind as they look for projects that complement the company’s current lineup, which includes worldwide TV and merch rights for Domo and North American licensing rights for Entara’s Those Scurvy Rascals. (Both properties have scored worldwide broadcast deals with Nickelodeon in recent months.)
At the top of the shopping list are: a live-action family series, an edgier kids puppet/animation show, a teen fashion property and seasonal fare centered around major holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. Collins is interested in properties that can play on multiple platforms rather than those solely developed for TV so newcomers shouldn’t ‘have to stretch to work on broadband or mobile.’
As for Big Tent’s planned level of involvement, Collins says it can range from outright acquisition or investing in production to assuming licensing rights and masterminding a marketing push; he’s staying flexible.
The second peg of the plan revolves around Big Tent expanding its market reach further into Latin America, so expect the company’s future deals to include North and South American rights at a minimum. Alejandra Denda Hampton, co-founder of The Mercer Group, has been brought on to lead the charge.
‘We see Latin America as a huge opportunity in the next 10 years,’ says Collins. ‘The economies are getting better, the middle classes are growing, and the population is booming.’ However, he recognizes it’s a complex market, and each country in the region has its own challenges. Part of Hampton’s job is to build an overall plan of attack, and once that’s in place Collins says the company will begin putting staff on the ground – most likely an office in Buenos Aires, Argentina to start.
In the meantime, Collins has just made another key appointment to help grow existing business. He’s tapped industry veteran, and former EVP of worldwide consumer products at The Jim Henson Company, Isabel Miller to spearhead licensing and retail business development for Big Tent’s current portfolio of properties. Her immediate tasks are to ramp up licensing revenues for Domo, Rascals, Habbo, Aussie import The Saddle Club, teen-skewing Crusty Demons and preschool classic Miffy & Friends.