Producers look to backend, pre-sales to shore up budgets

Kidvid producers have found ways to get their money’s worth despite the fact that license fees aren’t as big as they once were.

“It’s a much broader industry and not as insular as it used to be,” says Chloe van den Berg, of U.K. Entertainment Rights. “That’s what makes it interesting and why it keeps growing. I believe there is a great future in it.”

The production budget can be recouped through TV, video, merchandising and licensing.

Merchandising is one way of raising finance to cover the budget, and if a series is successful, can turn into an additional revenue stream. But it’s still very much viewed as the icing on the cake.

“Merchandising is part of the illusion that has driven this market crazy,” points out Marc de Pontavice, prexy of French animation studio Xilam. “If there’s one thing I know when it comes to 6- to 11-year-olds, there’s no way you can build your business model based on merchandising. In preschool you don’t have the choice, you have to produce merchandising to make your money back.”

Solid pre-commitments from North America probably account for 40%-50% of the production budget.

“We can pretty much be sure that we can recover the rest from the international market,” says Fireworks prexy Greg Phillips. “The lion’s share of a $350,000 kids live-action series with 13 or 22 half-hours will come back from its U.S. placement.”

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