When FremantleMedia split its Enterprises division into two stand-alone units in 2013—one focusing on kids and family entertainment and distribution, and the other fixed on digital and branded entertainment—it put a three-year strategy into place to increase the company’s global footprint.
And it seems to be working out for FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment, which is ready to tap into its parentco’s catalog of unscripted formats to expand its business beyond producing largely animated fare like Tree Fu Tom and Kate & Mim-Mim.
To get to this point, FMKFE president Rick Glankler says the division first solidified its base by determining which brands could become global franchises encompassing broadcast, digital, consumer engagement and licensed products.
But FMKFE is now ready to explore new options. “We looked at how we could diversify further,” says Glankler. “We examined what would happen if we took our scripted kids expertise and mixed it with our experience in unscripted formats, like game and talent shows, and used our ability as one of the largest prodcos making localized content with 29 offices around the world. Could there be opportunities to offer kids broadcasters unscripted, adult-proven formats, but made for kids?”
The strategizing has led FMKFE to choose two of its parentco’s popular adult/family game shows, Beat the Clock and Freeze Out, to transition to kid-targeted series. The company also worked with the BBC to uncover formats that could potentially be produced and localized in other markets.
One show, for example, that Glankler says has a lot of potential to travel as a localized series is CBBC’s Marrying Mum & Dad. The program is an award-winning format that puts kids in charge of organizing a wedding for their unmarried parents or step parents in just four weeks. Unbeknownst to mum and dad are the crazy themes, outfits and entertainment that their kids have planned for the big day. “It’s an incredibly endearing show. The concept that kids can participate in a day that is important to them has tremendous universal appeal,” says Glankler.
As for Beat the Clock, the series has been hugely successful in the US since launching in the 1950s, and it currently broadcasts on FremantleMedia’s BuzzrTV channel.
“It’s a tried-and-true activity-based show that kids would love to participate in, as long as the games remain simple, with a big focus on physical competition. We think it has potential for a Family Channel Canada-type of network, or a Nick US,” says Glankler.
The second Fremantle format opportunity, Freeze Out, is a newer series from FremantleMedia UK, in collaboration with ITV. Inspired by air hockey and curling, the quiz show tests contestants’ general knowledge and their abilities to master a giant circular table made of solid ice, on which a variety of games are played using a special Freeze Out slider.
“We obviously wouldn’t look to launch it in the UK market, but there may be an opportunity to do a kids version in the US or Canada,” says Glankler. “We’re starting small and setting a very realistic baseline. We know the game show format is something that is out of the wheelhouses of a lot of broadcasters, so it will take time for conversation, understanding and finding the right opportunities. But since MIPCOM in October, the interest is certainly exceeding our expectations.”
This article was originally published in Kidscreen’s February/March 2015 issue.