Toronto-based Entertainment One (eOne) has sold its upcoming CGI-animated preschool series Ricky Zoom (52 x 11-minutes) to Viacom-owned UK broadcasters Nick Jr. and Channel 5′s preschool block Milkshake!, with plans to debut the series on October 5 and May 2020, respectively.
eOne also raced the series into new broadcast deals with international broadcaster Minika Cocuk (Turkey) and free-to-air channels Karusel (Russia) and Spacetoon Kids’ (MENA). The series is set to air globally this fall.
Co-produced by Italy’s Maga Animation and France’s TeamTO (which previously partnered with eOne on PJ Masks), the action comedy tracks a red motorbike on adventures with family and friends in a town made for bikes.
Despite the growth in the streaming market and all of the new SVODs that have come to play a prominent role in kids entertainment, eOne still sees the traditional broadcast route as the best way to launch a global brand, says the company’s president, family and brands, Olivier Dumont.
“A digital presence is critical to sustaining the series—and after a period it will eventually go to SVODs, as we did with PJ Masks—but our linear broadcast partners are doing so much to promote the show,” says Dumont. “The broadcasters are putting out promos for the series throughout the day, and you can’t get that with SVODs like Netflix, which just don’t have the resources to promote your show in the same way linear channels do.”
eOne is banking that the series will be a hit, and in order to get a jump on broadcaster demand and to keep the IP fresh for audiences, it has already begun writing and creating storyboards for season two, with plans to roll out the new season in Q4 2020.
“We’re spending more on the development process and taking this risk to ensure there is a small a gap as possible between the two seasons,” says Dumont. “If the broadcaster’s don’t want the second season then we could lose some money, but if they do then we have a lead on creating it and getting it out to them and audiences.”
The series launched internationally in the last two weeks on linear broadcasters Gulli (France), Discovery Kids (LatAm), and Nick Jr. (US). Although Dumont declined to share ratings, he says the response so far is encouraging.
Outside of distribution, eOne is also readying a consumer products program for the series in Europe and has appointed its frequent licensing partner Rosman to develop the brand’s publishing category in Russia. Russian licensing agency Megalicense is the appointed agent for consumer products for Russia and CIS, while FILMA represents eOne’s CP efforts in Turkey. eOne plans to start with publishing and toys before moving into ancillary categories like apparel in a second wave of products coming out in 2020, Dumont says.