Big Hit with kidvid

Brit producer peddles 10 series to U.S. outlets

NEW YORK — Hit Entertainment, a U.K.-based producer of children’s and wildlife programming, has sold 10 series to U.S. TV outlets, including Fox Family Channel, Nickelodeon, HBO, Starz!/Encore and Animal Planet.

Nickelodeon purchased Hit’s “Kipper” to be the lead-in to the preschool smash “Blues Clues” in early 1999, said Dorian Langdon, executive VP, Hit Entertainment, and head of Hit USA.

Fox Family Channel has purchased three series and a group of specials. “The Three Friends and Jerry” and “Big Sister, Little Brother” are currently being stripped on the cable web, and “Wildlife” and a series of “Monsters” specials will soon premiere on the channel.

HBO has acquired “Anthony Ant” for its HBO Family service, scheduled to be launched in February, 1999.

In addition, Starz!/Encore will carry “Brambly Hedge” and “Percy’s Park, Animal Planet has acquired “Wyland’s Ocean Worlds” and Miramax Films has acquired “The Phoenix & the Magic Carpet,” a live-action feature based on the classic novel of the same name which was co-produced with the BBC.

Langdon said taking Hit Entertainment public two years ago has been key to the company’s success.

“Being public has been good because it’s provided us with the liquidity to build our copyrights and the ability to more effectively administer those rights across all media,” Langdon said. “We’re in an era right now when people are asking how can we make shows faster and cheaper, but we take more time and spend more money on shows.”

Hit Entertainment, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, has market capitalization of $120 million.

Hit, which spends $350,000-$600,000 per half hour to produce its kids shows, now generates 30% of the company’s overall revenue coming from the U.S. market.

Hit holds the distinction of producing the most expensive animated series ever created for television, the “Peter Rabbit” series, which cost $1.5 million per episode. Langdon asserted “Peter Rabbit” has turned a profit for Hit.

Langdon said his company has invested so much per episode because each show is sold to TV outlets in many countries around the globe. Hit does business in 120 countries.

Also, Langdon said Hit gets more for its money by allowing the animation companies it works with to take an equity stake in the show.

“The quid pro quo is that we keep the overhead expenses down,” said Langdon. “We want the money to go on the screen.”

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