Hasbro and Entertainment One are saddling up for a new era together, starting with My Little Pony. Following its acquisition by Hasbro in December 2019, eOne has been appointed as the toyco’s global entertainment arm, with responsibility for content and distribution moving forward.
“The aim of the acquisition was for Hasbro to really amp up the efforts of the combined group in terms of entertainment,” says Olivier Dumont, president of family brands for eOne. “It’s a very straightforward division of responsibilities in the sense that eOne is the content arm of the group, and Hasbro is the consumer products arm.”
This includes Hasbro brands like My Little Pony, Transformers and Power Rangers, as well as eOne IPs including Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ricky Zoom. The content team will explore opportunities for properties from both companies in a variety of formats, including shorts, seasonal specials, spinoffs and movies.
Kicking things off, eOne recently inked its first broadcast deal for a Hasbro property since the acquisition, securing Latin America’s Discovery Kids as a broadcaster for My Little Pony: Pony Life (pictured). Additional broadcast partners for the new series include WarnerMedia’s Cartoon Network and Boomerang (Australia and Southeast Asia), Channel 9 GO! (Australia), TVNZ New Zealand, Mediacorp Singapore, Spacetoon (Middle East), Tiny Pop (UK), Discovery Family (US), Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse (Canada), Disney Channel (Germany), Gulli (France) and Cartoonito (Italy).
Monica Candiani, EVP of content sales for eOne, says the biggest challenge of collaborating on Hasbro brands had nothing to do with the acquisition, and everything to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest difference was actually that we started working with our new colleagues [at Hasbro] during the lockdown,” she says. “There’s one person on my team I haven’t met, to this day, but despite that we work very well together.”
Inking agreements for Pony Life was possible even during a pandemic, Candiani says, because a number of the sales were to partners that eOne had worked with in the past.
Despite delays connected to global lockdowns and not being able to meet face to face, Dumont says the content teams from each company integrated well because there was little overlap (since the majority of eOne’s content focuses on preschoolers, while Hasbro’s entertainment skews to an older demo).
Moving forward, the family brands content sales division will be led by Candiani with support from Kate Morton, recently appointed as director of content strategy. Creative affairs is led by Mikiel Houser (action and adventure brands) and Jillianne Reinseth (preschool and fashion brands), reporting to Dumont.
And eOne is already starting to put its stamp on content for the Hasbro brands. Pony Life is designed to race the MLP brand into a new era. The show is set to hit small screens later this year and will continue to roll out into spring 2021. The 40 x 11-minute series focuses on comedy, and according to Dumont, it will act as a bridge between the IP’s previous iteration—Friendship is Magic—and eOne’s future plans for the brand.
“Pony Life is a sort of transition between the Friendship is Magic era and the completely new iteration of My Little Pony that we are developing now,” says Dumont. “Pony Life is the first step of that reinvention.”
Another one of these new efforts is an upcoming feature film slated for September 2021, which will include different pony characters and a new CGI look. And that’s not the only transformation eOne has planned; Hasbro’s Transformers brand is also getting a makeover. The company is preparing a series of announcements, Dumont says, about the development of several new iterations of the property (including one focused on comedy).
eOne has been busy with more than just updating classic brands recently. Dumont also teased a new preschool series that will skew slightly towards girls. And development is in the final stages on several new shows for various age demographics. Some are original IPs, while others are based on existing Hasbro brands, and eOne expects that two or three of them will be greenlit in Q1 2021.