Par, PBS pact on vids

Deal reps new push to sign third-party output

PBS Home Video has inked a five-year deal with Paramount Home Entertainment for distribution of its homevideo line, ending its 10-year run with Warner Home Video.

Paramount, headed by former Warner exec Tom Lesinski, takes over the PBS line April 5. Although Par distributes product from companies owned by parent Viacom, such as MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central, this distribution deal is the biggest with an outside company and reps part of a new push to sign third-party output deals.

“A key goal we have here is to acquire prestigious big-time content like PBS provides,” said Lesinski, prexy of Paramount Pictures worldwide home entertainment. At Warner, Lesinski was charged with third-party content acquisitions and worked with PBS for more than a decade.

Among the most high-profile PBS homevideo sets are Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” series, “The American Experience” and children’s product such as “Caillou” and “Teletubbies.”

PBS veep of marketing for consumer products Tracey Beeker said one reason the pubcaster chose Paramount was its success in distributing Nickelodeon product and other children’s lines. PBS’ children’s product will be integrated into Par’s overall push of kids video programming, she said.

“The change in the retail and economic market have really dictated that we get a little more creative in how and where PBS product and PBS kids products are distributed,” said Beeker. “They’re keen marketers. They’re able to do a lot of national campaigns but really do get down to that grass roots local level important to us.”

Pricing on current PBS releases through Warner will remain the same, and the videos will be available through Paramount beginning in April.

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