Sometimes you have to look at the past in order to build a strategy for the future, and a new French partnership is testing that theory vis à vis web and mobile content. Marathon Media and Gallic broadcaster TF1 have cooked up a co-production deal to engage in some intensive off-tube development, with each company putting in a substantial investment in both funding and manpower.
‘Everybody is looking for a new model to give more financing to new media content, but maybe the old model can work,’ says David Doro, Marathon’s director of new media. The deal encompasses three Marathon properties, long-running tween action toon Totally Spies!, a spin-off that’s in early development and Monster Buster Club, which debuted on the channel in late October. Although neither partner would disclose how much TF1 is putting into the pot, Marathon plans to raise US$2.7 million from international sales to feed into year-one development and production. And it’s earmarked the same amount for 2009 and 2010.
With this kind of cash to play with, you can bet that both partners are aiming for something a bit more advanced than a website with a few show stills. Marathon says it’s ready to deliver a truly immersive experience. ‘We are going to create a Second Life-type of world around Monster Buster Club,’ says Doro. ‘This is pretty much unheard-of for a TV series; not many have online worlds because they are costly to produce.’ When the web content starts to roll out in Q1 2008, games, mini-episodes and other web exclusives will join the MBC virtual world on the property-dedicated site.
From a broadcast perspective, TF1 head of youth programming Dominique Poussier is excited to be sticking the net’s neck out with such a hefty commitment to online and mobile content. ‘We haven’t made investments that are on par with this one,’ she says. ‘But we wanted to work together for an extension of rights so we could ensure the best exposure for these properties.’
Although the deal was just struck, TF1 is already busy lining up advertisers willing to try something beyond traditional ads. ‘We get to create new forms of advertising,’ says Eleanor Coleman, the channel’s manager of new media, adding that TF1 is confident about finding sufficient advertising to offset its spend.