The distribution arm of New York-based 4Kids Entertainment posted a strong performance in 2008 with robust sales for some of its best-known series and new market entries. Chaotic chipped in with sales to Jetix (US), Teletoon (Canada) Network Ten (Australia), RTBF (Belgium), SIC (Portugal), MNet (South Africa) and Kids Central (Singapore). Viva Piñata continued to score high-profile deals with YTV (Canada), France 3, Canal J pay satellite TV and RTL2 (Germany), among others.
Perhaps the overriding highlight was the re-imagining of iconic IP Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The new series, TMNT: Back to the Sewers, certainly did not fall into the brink, with major deals to Cartoon Network (Australia, New Zealand, India, the Philippines) plus many other channels in the Asian and European markets.
New on the scene was Dinosaur King, which made an impressive debut on a myriad of nets including Mediaset (Italy), RTL2 (Germany), France 3 and Jetix (UK, Scandinavia and Spain).
On the heels of breaking into the US market with the sale of Skunk Fu! to Kids’ WB! in 2007, London-based Cake Distribution made some major inroads with Cartoon Network US in 2008. In addition to landing 52 x 13-minute Skunk Fu! from Irish prodco Cartoon Saloon on CN US, Cake also sold Fresh’s Total Drama Island (below) to the net’s US, Latin American, Scandinavian, Central and Eastern European and Middle Eastern and African channels. That doesn’t mean the heat cooled on Skunk Fu! To date, it’s been sold into more than 100 territories worldwide, including landing placement with broadcasters such as France 5, CBBC, Disney Channel Latin America and Super RTL in Germany. The martial arts comedy series and Elliot Kid, another toon in Cake’s catalogue, were also nominated for Best Animation BAFTAs this year. However, the cherry on top of it all thus far was Cartoon Saloon/Cake’s win at the Irish Film and Television Award ceremonies in Dublin this year, with Skunk Fu! taking home the Best Animation trophy.
Owner of the world’s fourth-largest independent children’s content library, with more than 1,000 separate TV license deals and 200 customers worldwide, Decode Enterprises could have sat on its laurels this year. But then it wouldn’t be in the running, would it? This year, sales highlights include Franny’s Feet scoring berths on PBS Kids Sprout and Disney UK; Bo on the GO! landing at France 5, CiTV, RaiSat, Disney Spain and Cartoon Network Asia; and The Latest Buzz getting picked up by Nickelodeon Spain and Cartoon Network Latin America and Germany. All three shows were commissioned for a third season in 2008.
The company has also expanded its third-party distribution business this year, picking up series such as Heroic Film Company’s How to be Indie, marblemedia’s Adrenaline Project and Adastra Creative’s Grandpa in My Pocket, CBeebies’ first comedy-drama for preschoolers. Also swelling its distribution roster are series co-produced by sister company Decode Entertainment, including Super Why!, dirtgirlworld and Waybuloo.
After only one year of operation, Studio100 has drummed up enough business to earn its spot as a finalist for our Distributor of the Year Award. Chief among the many moves made by the company was the acquisition of EM.Entertainment’s children’s catalogue and a number of territory deals sealed for puppet preschool series Big and Small, a co-pro with Kindle Entertainment, BBC, Treehouse in Canada and 3J’s Production. In addition to bowing on CBeebies this fall and readying for its 2009 debut on Treehouse, the series has been picked up by Germany’s Telepool along with IPTV and VOD rights throughout Europe.
The fledging company is further adding to its sales slate with a volume deal signed with CBBC earlier this year to produce format-ready live-action series The Slammer, Trapped and Beat the Boss. It will also co-produce what may be the market’s first preschool quiz show, Kerwhizz, with CBeebies’ in-house team.
Other successful ventures include acquiring the rights to the 52 x 13-minute series Balloontoons and Amberwood’s HD series Super Mega Hyper Pets. And with an eye towards the digital realm, the company signed a deal with iTunes to make all of its content available for sale on iTunes Germany.
Great ratings greeted many of the series on Taffy Entertainment’s distribution slate in 2008. In Germany, Dive Olly Dive! (a.k.a. Tauch Timmy Tauch!) was the highest-rated new show on Ki.Ka, and the second highest-rated show on the network overall. In the US, Olly debuted in PBS Kids Sprout’s weekend lineup in June. Within a few months, Sprout extended the show’s run to seven days a week. Additionally, Growing Up Creepie debuted on Nicktoons UK and instantly became the fourth-ranked show on the network this year. Taffy also completed a number of big deals for series that will begin debuting worldwide in 2009. Co-produced with American Greetings and India’s DQ Entertainment, Twisted Whiskers was snapped up by the UK’s CBBC and France’s Canal+, and co-pro deals with France’s M6 and RAI in Italy were secured for the anticipated toon Geronimo Stilton, an Atlantyca Entertainment/Moonscoop co-production.
To cap it all off, Taffy won an Emmy Award this year for I Got a Rocket, which debuted on its online/VOD network, Kabillion, marking a first for both Kabillion and the series.