In its first full-year financial report since its acquisition of Shaw Media, Canada’s Corus Entertainment has reported a year-over-year revenue increase of 44%.
With all of Shaw Media’s assets now under the Corus umbrella (as of April 1, 2016), consolidated revenue for the fiscal year ending August 31 stood at US$1.3 billion compared to US$622 million in 2015.
For Q4, Corus’ overall revenue rose 99% to US$293 million, compared to US$147.7 million in Q4 of 2015. This increase was primarily due to a sales boost in the company’s television division, which is where Shaw Media’s assets were integrated. Television revenues were US$265 million for the quarter, compared to US$117 million the previous year.
Overall profits for the segment were US$80.4 million, compared to US$42.4 million in last year’s Q4, while profits for the year stood at US$314 million.
Elsewhere in the company’s TV unit, advertising revenues increased 324% in Q4 2016 and 116% for the full year, while merchandising, distribution and other revenues increased 17% in Q4.
Looking more closely at Nelvana, the media conglomerate’s production and distribution arm has unveiled a brand-new logo—and a renewed focus on content—that’s timed with this week’s MIPCOM market in Cannes, France.
“Corus went through a major rebranding after the acquisition of Shaw Media,” says Nelvana president Scott Dyer. “And so we designed a new logo that was very reflective of the Corus one. It’s more modern, but has that same blue that we’ve always used. The new logo really symbolizes a little bit of a new approach at Nelvana.”
That approach involves a sharpened focus on storytelling and characters. Dyer says Nelvana will step away from the trend of merchandise-based properties and instead work to become a haven for creators. By developing content-driven brands, Dyer says Nelvana will be able to better engage audiences and boost ratings.
“It doesn’t mean these properties won’t drive merchandise at some point,” he says. “But we really think story and character should come first, and merchandise second. We haven’t seen a big push in legislation globally, but we can expect that the discomfort with what are essentially 30-minute commercials to continue. Our focus is on making great shows.”
In fact, Dyer believes this new focus will lead to even greater success for Nelvana merchandising, adding that good storytelling fuels consumer product success. These opportunities, he says, are more natural and more likely to be viable in the long-term, as Nelvana works to create more evergreen brands like Babar and Franklin.
Additionally, Nelvana will be taking on more third-party brands to ensure the CP group continues to be relevant, as long-term moves are made to focus on creator-driven content.
New team members were recently brought on-board to help Nelvana make the transition. Pam Westman joined as head of Nelvana Enterprises in May, followed by recent hire Athena Georgaklis (head of development) and Antoine Erligmann (head of Nelvana EMEA). Senior financial personnel have also been added to the team, as well as additional producers to strengthen the studio side.
These changes come as Nelvana prepares a number of major shows to hit US broadcast in 2017. Mysticons (Nickelodeon, pictured), Hotel Transylvania: The Series (Disney), Bravest Warriors (from the creator of Adventure Time) and Sesame Workshop’s new original series Esme and Roy will also see global distribution moving forward. Additional projects with pre-attached distribution in the US or globally are currently in the works, Dyer says, for both traditional broadcast and OTT platforms.
“We believe that this year we’ll probably see twice what we did last year in terms of overall shows, and we’d like to build to a level that is maybe 150 to 175 half-hours each year,” he says. “We’re also trying to increase our mix of 2D and 3D shows. There’s some pretty exciting 3D work coming that I think will really push the envelope for us. We’ve also done less in Europe and globally recently than I think we will in the future. I think you’ll see more co-productions, and you’ll see more global reach.”