Banijay Group’s Zodiak Kids division has signed a deal with Amazon Studios to manage the linear broadcast rights to 17 of the streamer’s original children’s series and holiday specials.
This content will continue to be available on Amazon Prime Video worldwide, and Zodiak will be showcasing it for the first time at MIPCOM next month, alongside its own programming catalogue.
“These programs have been created very professionally by the Amazon team, and we have admired their approach in our years of working with them,” says Delphine Dumont, Zodiak’s SVP of sales, acquisitions and co-productions.
Series covered in the deal include animated preschool offerings Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy, The Stinky and Dirty Show!, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Little Big Awesome and Wishenpoof; animated kids series Niko and the Sword of Light and Lost in Oz (pictured); and live-action fare such as Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, The Kicks and four American Girl specials.
The Prime Video holiday specials include The Snowy Day, Click, Clack Moo: Christmas at the Farm and If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie—all of which premiered on the SVOD service this past year.
Zodiak Kids is no stranger to working with Amazon; it previously represented Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street outside of the US, UK and Germany when the streamer was only available in those territories. Zodiak managed to secure sales for these shows with ABC (Australia), Knowledge Network and DHX (Canada), Thai PBS, Mediacorp (Singapore) and ITI Neovision (Poland).
But when Amazon decided to globalize its service in more than 200 countries and territories in late 2016, it took back these distribution rights from Zodiak Kids so that all of its series would be exclusively available on its platform.
However, Zodiak has since lobbied Amazon persistently for the right to distribute its kids content internationally to broadcasters, which is something the SVOD service had never done before.
“We really loved representing Amazon’s shows originally, and we always had a really good reaction to them at markets, so we felt that there was something more that we could do for them,” says Dumont. “We always felt that our potential was cut short because of the change of strategy back then.”
This type of deal is highly unusual for a streamer, which generally seeks to retain its originals as in-house exclusives to draw people to its service with the promise of programming that can’t be found anywhere else. But Amazon was in a unique position to try this approach because, as Dumont points out, it produces its kids shows solo and therefore holds onto the majority of the rights. A platform like Netflix, in contrast, doesn’t often produce a show without a partner, so it would not be in the position to give one distributor all of the rights to its kids content.
The only other platform that has signed a similar deal is UK-based preschool SVOD service Hopster, which tapped Shaun the Sheep producer Aardman this past year to distribute all of its originals internationally. Hopster Studios shows included in the agreement are Clever Brenda, Hopster Jam and The Little Toymaker.
Despite this deal being slightly unorthodox, Dumont notes that there are actually several reasons it’s beneficial for the streamer. For one, just because a show is available on a linear broadcast channel doesn’t mean kids won’t go and watch it on Amazon later.
“Kids will watch a show on a linear channel and then seek it out again later because they want more, more, more—often these subsequent viewings are on a digital platform, so I think it’s a complimentary relationship and quite a smart way of doing things,” says Dumont.
Secondly, when the shows are available in additional places to more kids, it gives the brand a better chance to grow and expand. In our increasingly fractured media landscape, it’s difficult for producers to court a large audience of kids on any one platform. But if it’s available across several broadcasters in different countries, as well as on a platform like Amazon Prime Video, that brand has a better chance of sticking around.
“You have to think about longevity; it takes a lot of time to create a kids show and you want that brand to live through a few generations—that’s the dream,” says Dumont. “And I think this type of deal gives kids more chances to enjoy a brand, and gives the show more chances to succeed.”