Deal’s child’s play

Canadian, German kid programmers hook up

TORONTO — Toronto-based animation and children’s TV programmer Nelvana announced Monday a three-part distribution/production deal worth more than C$47 million ($32 million) with RTV Entertainment of Germany.

“We have a like-minded interest in the same kind of high-quality projects,” said Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsh, noting that the two companies have worked together before.

RTV has acquired “Little Bear,” “Rupert” and “Blazing Dragons.” “This is a very good strategic relationship for accessing the German market, and on our side we give them better access to the North American market,” Hirsh said.

European rights

RTV has acquired TV, homevideo and merchandising sub-agency rights to 560 half-hour episodes of Nelvana’s current and library productions for distribution in European countries. Nelvana will receive an advance of $10.2 million in cash payable in the next 12 months, and, once RTV recoups its investment, Nelvana will share additional distribution proceeds.

Nelvana calls this “one of the most significant international distribution deals in Nelvana’s history.”

Nelvana and RTV have also entered into a three-year, $22 million reciprocal distribution deal. RTV will purchase TV, homevideo and merchandising sub-agency rights from Nelvana for at least 65 episodes a year to distribute in Germany and elsewhere.

At the same time, Nelvana will acquire the TV, homevideo and merchandising sub-agency rights to at least 26 episodes per year of new RTV programming to be distributed in the Americas. Once they have recouped their costs the two will share in distribution proceeds.

Series on tap

And for each of the next three years, Nelvana and RTV will also co-produce at least two 26-episode TV series. Hirsh estimated that the co-production component of the deal could add about $47 million to the agreement’s total value.

RTV is one of Germany’s largest producers and distributors of children’s programming. The company is 78% owned by Ravensburger, the leading publishing, puzzle and toy company in Germany.

Nelvana produces and distributes children’s TV series and films and has merchandising and publishing divisions for its properties, which include “Franklin,” “Little Bear,” “Babar,” “Rolie Polie Olie,” “Pippi Longstocking” and “Rupert.”

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