It’s been a bumpy year for most players in the kids entertainment industry, but BBC Children’s & Licensing has managed to keep more than afloat. KidScreen Daily got the scoop on the performance from division head Neil Ross Russell.
BBCW Children’s & Licensing posted a 9.8% sales increase, bringing in approximately US$46.4 million, compared to US$45.6 million in 2008. As for its portfolio of properties, Doctor Who and particularly In the Night Garden performed well, with ITNG finishing off 2008 as the second-biggest license in the UK toy and game market. Head of Children’s & Licensing Neil Ross Russell told KidScreen Daily that international sales of Teletubbies as well as Charlie & Lola in the UK also contributed to the growth. BBCW, meanwhile, retained its spot as the number-two licensor in the territory, behind Disney Consumer Products.
’2009/2010 is going to be a year where we were going to allow our licensees to sell through the inventory and get excited about next year,’ he says, noting that Doctor Who will be taking a slight backseat with no new series going to air until spring 2010. ‘So it’s going to be tough.’
Still, Ross Russell remains optimistic largely because of the positive annual results, which came in spite of the bankruptcy of UK retailer Woolworths and DVD distributor EUK last fall. ‘It’s left a pretty significant hole on the high street and no one’s fully replaced it yet,’ said Ross Russell of the challenging retail environment. ‘We are undoubtedly losing sales, compared to what we’d expect this time of year. But I have every confidence, though, that in terms of distribution, it will be replaced by the time Christmas rolls around.’
While growing licensing revenue on adult brands is more of a focus in the US office, where Tom Keefer is leading the charge, Ross Russell said the efforts will help build up the licensing team and pave the way for BBCW’s children’s properties to enter that market, with particular attention being paid to In the Night Garden.
‘It’s going to be a struggle to get much of [our kids brands] into 2009/2010, but really what we’re doing here is setting ourselves up for growth for future years,’ he said.