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Universal Music tunes into Uki’s Euro merch potential

With UK broadcast placement on CBeebies in-hand, 52 x five-minute animated preschool series Uki is now getting a major multi-territory licensing push from owner Universal Music.
October 22, 2010

With UK broadcast placement on CBeebies in-hand, 52 x five-minute animated preschool series Uki is now getting a major multi-territory licensing push from owner Universal Music.

The series (winner of the 2008 Pitch It! competition at KidScreen Summit) bowed in its home territory of Belgium in April on children’s channels Ketnet and Club RTL, and starts airing daily this month as part of CBeebies’ Show Me Show Me block.

Uki follows the gentle adventures of the irrepressible titular character. Each ep starts as Uki greets the sunrise, and his day goes on to mirror a toddler’s from playtime to story time. With a cast of friends including Rabbit, Flowers, Hedgehog, Duck and Turtle, Uki’s world is full of color and music, and it’s these aspects Universal will attempt to capture in the inaugural CP program targeting kids ages two to five.

‘Products will start rolling out quickly in Belgium,’ says Lesley Douglas, MD of Universal Music UK, adding that DVDs, greeting cards and plush will hit retail in Belgium this month. The Benelux licensee roster includes Lannoo Publishing (books), Simba-Dickie (plush) and Paperclip Cards (greeting cards). And Universal plans to follow a similar path in the UK, launching the initial line of products between three and six months after the series bows on-air.

Neil Jennings, director of business development at Universal Music UK, says he expects Uki to be well-represented on retail shelves in the region next year. ‘From a UK licensing perspective we think Uki is a key prospect in 2011,’ he says.

With series distribution being handled by BBC Worldwide, Uki now has TV placement in Australia, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Poland, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. On the L&M side, Universal is using the Belgium and UK markets to gauge what products work best as it looks to secure partners in a number of different categories.

Douglas adds that she foresees digital and educational as driving categories for the program. She is already in discussions with leading companies in those areas about developing products for the new year.

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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