Herschend Entertainment Studios (HES) has recruited former Nickelodeon exec Keith Dawkins (pictured) to fill a newly created role as president of both HES and its historic Harlem Globetrotters basketball brand.
Dawkins officially started this dual position on January 3, reporting to Andrew Wexler, CEO of HES parentco Herschend Enterprises. He’ll initially be looking for new ways to evolve the Globetrotters brand from a live events business to a global entertainment brand, reaching a new generation of kids and families.
“We have a unique opportunity under my leadership to expand the Globetrotters’ reach to a new and diverse audience through immersive 360-degree experiences,” says Dawkins. “The foundation is the Globetrotters’ rich history of entertaining and inspiring kids and families on and off the court.”
Plans are in the works for new content, consumer products and more international business ventures, but details were still under wraps at press time.
In 2019, Kidscreen reported that Herschend was developing a Globetrotters game show for six- to 11-year-olds with Art Spigel of 7ate9 Entertainment, but the company hasn’t confirmed if the project is still going forward.
In the ’70s and ’80s, the basketball brand was adapted into two successful TV shows for CBS—animated series The Harlem Globetrotters and live-action Saturday morning variety show The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine. The Globetrotters also made numerous appearances on ABC’s long-running series Wide World of Sports. Herschend acquired the IP in 2013.
As for Herschend’s ongoing kids and family strategy, Dawkins’ first order of business is to formulate a vision that will inform the studio’s global content development, he says. “We have the opportunity to harness the potential housed within HES to bolster current IPs like Chuggington, while nurturing new ideas for kids and families everywhere,” said Dawkins.
Herschend acquired the popular Chuggington brand in 2018 from Ludorum, and has since produced a sixth season of the animated series, as well as developing a hybrid series and a new consumer products program with global master toy partner Alpha Group. Herschend also co-produced PBS KIDS preschool series Splash and Bubbles with The Jim Henson Company.
Prior to joining Herschend, Dawkins founded Rock Hill Media Ventures in 2018. He will stay in place as CEO of the company going forward. Under his leadership, Rock Hill secured a partnerships to develop kids and family content with Believe Entertainment in 2019 and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) in 2020. Dawkins also recently brokered a deal with 9 Story Media Group and THINK450, the content arm of the NBPA, to produce two new kids series.
Before setting up Rock Hill, Dawkins worked at Nickelodeon for 14 years. He ended his tenure as EVP of NickToons and TeenNick in 2017 to become CEO of a nonprofit youth development org called The First Tee.