In its ongoing effort to become a global entertainment powerhouse, Spain’s Planeta Junior has struck a number of recent co-production, distribution and licensing pacts with European companies well-known for fostering creative talent and developing properties with worldwide appeal.
“We are strong in Europe, but our strategy is to find the most relevant talent and build brands that have global TV and licensing potential,” says Planeta Junior GM Ignacio Segura. With support from Planeta’s international commercial director, Diego Ibanez, the company’s most recent deal came in January, when it struck a multi-year partnership to co-produce, distribute and license premium kids series globally with producer/distributor Federation Kids & Family and its Paris-based sister prodco, Cottonwood Media.
The deal will see Cottonwood and Planeta Junior handle development and production of new content, while Federation Kids & Family and Planeta will jointly exploit distribution and ancillary rights. First up is a 2D-animated co-pro from Cottonwood and Gulli France called Squish (pictured). This 52 x 11-minute series for kids ages six to 11 follows the adventures of an amoeba looking to survive in the cutthroat world of single-cell organisms.
Just two days prior to the Cottonwood deal, Planeta expanded its existing distribution and co-pro partnership with Germany’s Studio 100 and m4e to include collaborations on five new productions, incuding certain distribution rights for all companies. Currently in development, the yet-to-be-announced series will follow in the footsteps of current Planeta Junior/Studio 100 co-pros Beatrix Girls and Maya the Bee (season two).
While building an in-house production studio is not currently in the cards for Planeta, Segura says the company is increasing its focus on producing shows with third-party studios as more creators and executive producers come on board. He says the biggest content challenge is trying to stay local in the attempt to be global. “This is especially challenging in Europe because it’s the sum of different nations that vary not only in language, but in many cultural aspects, too.”
Despite the challenges, Segura sees North America, the UK and Asia Pacific as key regions for new growth. Planeta is also building out a new division for live stage shows, starting with European and Latin American tours based on ZAG Heroez original series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. “We’re hoping to launch our first tour by the end of this year,” Segura says. “You need live experiences so children can stay in touch and engage with the characters they love.”