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Sci Fi net boldly goes into kids CP space

The Sci Fi Channel is beamed into 93 million US homes, and is a bastion for genre lovers looking to catch Battlestar Galactica reborn and X-Files repeats. On the surface of things, its connection to kids might not be immediately apparent, but the net does have younger viewers, and it's now looking to leverage its brand appeal with this crowd at mass retail. In fact, Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, calls the decision to enter the kids consumer products space a no-brainer.
January 6, 2009

The Sci Fi Channel is beamed into 93 million US homes, and is a bastion for genre lovers looking to catch Battlestar Galactica reborn and X-Files repeats. On the surface of things, its connection to kids might not be immediately apparent, but the net does have younger viewers, and it’s now looking to leverage its brand appeal with this crowd at mass retail. In fact, Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, calls the decision to enter the kids consumer products space a no-brainer.

‘Nobody actually aggregates sci-fi/fantasy content for kids,’ says Howe. Kids certainly have an appetite for the genre, if the success of Star Wars and Transformers is anything to go by. And although the net hasn’t yet split out ratings for the kids audience, Howe contends it’s sizable and growing.

‘Parents watch and then bring their kids in with them,’ says Howe. And according to the most current Nielsen stats available at press time, the channel was averaging a 1.0 household rating, attracting 695,000 viewers in the 25 to 54 demo, and enjoying a 3% increase in viewership over the previous year.

With an eye towards engaging tween boys and girls, the net that labels itself as ‘fuel for the imagination’ is looking to get a mass-market licensing program based on the Sci Fi channel branding and content off the ground in 2009. Howe is envisioning virtual sci-fi-friendly goods linked to virtual worlds, video games and tech toys as key launch categories.

Although it’s early days still, the net is on the hunt for potential licensees, and Howe is keen on getting the word out that the channel plans to enter the mainstream CP market. ‘We are a mass brand,’ says Howe. ‘We are not really interested in small, narrow and niche.’

The net also intends to capitalize on its in-house production capabilities to develop original kid-skewing TV series that will lend play into the merch plan. ‘We are in the business of building franchises, and extending that to family franchises is important for us,’ says Howe. To that end, the Sci Fi Channel has an MMOG and live-action series in the works with Redwood City, California-based Trion World Network.

Interested? Blake Callaway, VP of marketing at Sci Fi Channel, is heading up consumer products efforts and can be reached at 212-664-4559 for further information about possible partnerships.

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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