Lion nurturing cub

MGM unveils label stressing kidvid on DVD

MGM Home Entertainment is launching an MGM Kids label — featuring a lion cub in place of the familiar Leo in the logo — to emphasize all the new deals it has struck for high-profile preschool and children’s product.

MGM is acquiring live-action and animated films and TV programs from Scholastic Entertainment, Nelvana, NBC Enterprises, the Mad Science Group, Monster Distributes, Southern Start Sales and WGBH Boston Video. Lion recently inked agreements with kids’ labels DIC Entertainment and Broadway Video.

Under these deals, MGM will in the coming months distribute on DVD and VHS such properties as Nelvana’s “Miss Spiker’s Sunny Patch Kids” (a top-rated Nickelodeon series that will arrive on shelves early next year), WGBH’s “Peep and the Big Wide World” (an educational series set to premiere on the Learning Channel) and NBC Enterprises’ “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie” (a Jim Henson Co.-produced special starring Joan Cusack and Whoopi Goldberg that drew 11 million viewers to NBC last Thanksgiving weekend).

Some industry estimates put the value of the overall kids marketplace for VHS and DVD at up to $1.4 million annually. With DVD players infiltrating everything from toys to the back seats of SUVs and DVD slowly usurping VHS in the kids programming arena, David Bishop, president and chief operating officer of MGM Home Entertainment, believes the preschool market will grow significantly in the months to come.

“There is a higher and higher ratio of family-oriented product moving toward DVD,” Bishop said. “It’s not the same ratio that you would find on (MGM’s) ‘Die Another Day,’ which was about 90% DVD, but it’s definitely moving that direction.”

The 2- to 5-year-old set also provides MGM with a stable marketplace, Bishop added.

“We think there will be overall growth to this genre, regardless as to how the market moves,” he explained. “This is a piece of business that’s really indifferent to the marketplace trends.”

(Daniel Frankel is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)

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