DeAgostini, the Italian conglomerate with strong businesses in publishing, gaming and media, is getting into the kids TV game with the launch of 24-hour pay-TV channel DeAKids. Scheduled to bow on October 1 via Sky Italia’s satellite platform – which beams into roughly 10% of Italy’s 21 million households – the channel is launching with a mix of library and first-run animation and live-action fare for kids ages three to 12.
Over the last two years, DeAgostini has been building up a production infrastructure in support of its multimedia empire ambitions, acquiring Italian prodco Magnolia, a controlling share in Paris-based Marathon Media, and a 10% share of Sweden’s Zodiak Television. DeAKids represents the next step in the company’s steady march towards making a mark on both the supply and demand sides of the TV industry.
DeAKids channel manager Maria Cristina Crocetti has built her morning schedule around an older-skewing preschool block from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. that caters to four- to seven-year olds and a true preschool block from 9 a.m. to noon for the three to five set. And then from noon to 11 p.m., the content will shift gears and target the channel’s core audience, kids ages six to 12.
Crocetti says she expects first-run Italian exclusives such as Animalia from PorchLight Entertainment and Burberry Productions, Nelvana’s Z-Squad, Warner Bros.’ Justice League Unlimited (above) and Granada liver-actioner Darcy to help attract and cement viewers. And the new net is also investing in original productions. Magnolia’s The Band, slotted at 2:10 p.m. and 7:50 p.m daily, is a live-action series about a teen garage band. Also produced by Magnolia, Diari Kids invites real kids to send in their video diary entries twice daily at 2:50 p.m. and 8:35 p.m. Viewers can then vote online for their favorites.
Other shows on the sked include Garfield and Pippi Longstocking, drawn from DeAgostini’s library, and Decode’s animated spy vehicle, Delilah & Julius. Crocetti has bought enough programming to see the channel through its first year, but she’s interested in picking up additional content for year two, particularly edutainment shows that work for boys and girls six to 12.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not DeAKids will make waves in the Italian kids TV landscape. The upstart channel won’t compete against terrestrial heavyweights RAI and Mediaset, but it will be up against Raisat’s kids channel and pan-regional cabsat nets with carriage in the country, including Disney, Nick and Jetix.
For his part, Iginio Straffi, CEO at Italian studio Rainbow, wonders whether DeAKids is planning on entering into international co-productions and becoming a major force in the kids TV market, or whether its parentco is using the channel to air its own productions and drive consumer product sales.