A perfect storm of top-tier executives, low-cost distribution and thousands of hours of under-used content have come together to form the foundation of just-announced network KidsCo, says Doug Murphy, president of Nelvana Enterprises, one of three partners in the venture.
‘It’s a unique opportunity to create what we have been calling a fourth voice,’ he adds, referring to the well-established big three pan-regional nets: Disney, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Murphy also confirms that each equity partner in the new venture, which is rounded out by DIC Entertainment and Sparrowhawk Media, put up US$4 million to create KidsCo, which should start beaming into European homes this fall. Entering North America and Asia-Pacific is not in the gameplan.
Business operations are to be managed out of the net’s new London headquarters, and KidsCo intends to capitalize on low-cost distribution facilities owned by Sparrowhawk that will allow it to broadcast up to eight audio feeds for each video feed.
‘That is the magic bullet,’ says Murphy. ‘That way, we can broadcast Rolie Polie Olie in Europe, and put Dutch, German or French over the same signal.’
Former Disney execs David Hulbert and Paul Robinson will shoulder programming duties, and the plan is to cater to a variety of demos with blocks for preschool, kids six to 11 and family in prime time.
As for its business model, the net is going to rely on subscriptions and advertising. The mix will depend on territory regulations, and an expansive online component is in the works to further bolster the channel’s reach.
Murphy and partners envision KidsCo as a premier destination for independent producers to showcase their projects, which will bolster the 6,000 hours of content already in the net’s library.
‘It will be the best of the best of independents,’ he says, noting that it’s too early to say what kind of new commissions and co-productions are on the drawing board.
As for what separates KidsCo from the big three, and why it’s a viable venture in a market plagued by shrinking margins and stiffer regulations, Murphy is direct.
‘It will be the shows that people know,’ he says. ‘It’s a great place for quality library fare to go. Whether it’s Tin Tin, Babar or Inspector Gadget, these are shows that have huge embedded affinity in the marketplace, but haven’t found their way to broadcast.’