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Henson takes licensing in-house

After spending five years keeping the management of its properties at arm's length, The Jim Henson Company has taken licensing matters into its own hands, bringing industry vet Melissa Segal on-board to head up a brand-new consumer products division.
February 17, 2009

After spending five years keeping the management of its properties at arm’s length, The Jim Henson Company has taken licensing matters into its own hands, bringing industry vet Melissa Segal on-board to head up a brand-new consumer products division.

Segal, who founded boutique agency Brandolution in 2006 and spent eight years at Disney Consumer Products, has taken the post of SVP of global consumer products at Henson. She’s charged with building licensing programs for new projects – particularly Sid the Science Kid, currently airing State-side on PBS, and upcoming series The Scrumps and Dinosaur Train – and breathing new merch life into properties residing in the Henson vault such as Fraggle Rock and Dark Crystal. (Both classics are rumored to be getting the feature film treatment in the coming months.)

More than just an exec appointment, Segal is folding her licensing agency into Henson to make Brandolution JHC a division of the company. The new division will continue to suss out additional third-party representation deals and work on Brandolution’s existing roster of properties such as Skatelab and KidTribe.

Henson president and COO Peter Schube says that the previous five-year licensing representation deal with HIT Entertainment, where the preschool specialist looked after licensing efforts for many Henson properties, including Fraggle Rock, was successful. But with plum broadcast spots secured for newcomers Sid and Dinosaur Train, the company is eager to reap the opportunities presented by the properties in full.

As such, an initial line for preschool IP Sid is set to launch this fall at mass retail, just a year after the series’ debut on PBS. So far, Segal has inked a DVD deal with NCircle Entertainment and expects to make more partner announcements at Toy Fair this month. Science-centric Dinosaur Train, meanwhile, bows on PBS this coming fall and licensed products are due to hit the shelves in Q3 2010 in a variety of categories, including books, games, apparel, accessories, home furnishings, social expressions, stationery and packaged goods.

Schube and Segal have already tested the waters with retailers and the results have bolstered their optimism for the new division despite a challenging economic landscape. ‘Retailers realize that we started doing this a long time ago,’ Schube says. ‘We were one of the first real active character licensors with The Muppet Show – it’s baked into our fabric around here.’ GR

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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