With the aim of cementing its North American operations and becoming more of a global property powerhouse, BBC Worldwide is taking a new approach to the high stakes business of property acquisition. ¡°We are looking for properties that can be developed at the onset with cross-media elements,¡± explains Susanna Pollock, the group¡¯s SVP of TV sales, co-productions and children¡¯s, who stepped into her new post on April 1.
Right about now, you might be thinking, ¡°Sure, sure, you and everyone else.¡± But it¡¯s not just empty rhetoric, in this case. BBCW has already put its money where its mouth is, signing a deal with Pollock¡¯s old company Star Farm Productions to co-develop an animated series, website, MMOG and possibly a feature film based on a story arc called Kaimira.
The boy-skewing property¡¯s website is already live on http://kaimiracode.com, and the next phase of rollout will take place this summer when Walker Books and Candlewick Press launch Book One: The Sky Village in the UK, the US, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Kaimira is set on Earth in the distant future, and the central narrative thrust is that humans, animals and machines are locked in a battle for supremacy; only teenager Kaimira can restore harmony. Pollock was drawn to the property¡¯s rich and deep mythology and environments because they have natural potential for exploitation on a number of platforms. ¡°It¡¯s a robust world,¡± she says.
Pollock will be keeping a close eye on the market for additional animation and live-action concepts for the pre-tween set, and her goal is to strike up new North American production partnerships to bring them to life. She will also be building up the Beeb¡¯s New York-based office with a team that can handle a bigger property portfolio. ¡°Once we get to the point [with the new properties] of L&M, marketing and home entertainment releases, we want to be able to run all of that activity out of the US office,¡± she says.
So in order to bulk up, Pollock will be hiring a number of marketing execs in the next three to six months, in hopes of growing into a six-person team by this time next year. ¡°As our properties mature and go to market, we will grow from there,¡± she says. ¡°We will also be considering taking on some third-party licensing business.¡±
It falls to the US office to duplicate the UK success of In The Night Garden in North America, too. The Ragdoll preschool series has picked up a slew of broadcasting deals in the last few months, and BBCW¡¯s goal is to lock in a US home for the show and launch the Canadian licensing program before year¡¯s end.